The National Directory of UK Sound Collections and the accompanying Report on the National Audit of UK Sound Collections have now been published online at http://www.bl.uk/projects/uk-sound-directory
Over a period of 20 weeks (from January to May 2015), this survey collected information on 3,015 collections, from 488 collection holders, containing 1.9 million items.
The resulting Directory of UK Sound Collections is now available to download (661pp) and contains details of all collections whose holders agreed to share information on their holdings.
A Report on the National Audit of UK Sound Collections describing the approach and methodology used, and analysing the results of the information gathered is now available to download.
The first oral history research seminar of this academic year will take place this Thursday, November 5.
Shelley Trower and Amy Tooth Murphy of the University of Roehampton will be leading the seminar titled, “She used to get lost in a book”: approaching gendered reading through two archives (Memories of Fiction and 100 Families).
The seminar starts at 6pm in the John S Cohen Room (203) at the Institute of Historical Research, Senate House, Malet St, London WC1E 7HU.
Seminars are free and open to all and afterwards there is opportunity for discussion over a glass of wine.
A new oral history project questions the role of the Commonwealth, asking if it is an obsolete relic and whether it has ever served a useful purpose.
The Commonwealth Oral History Project is the result a three-year programme of research, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). It was conducted by scholars at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, part of the University of London’s School of Advanced Study (SAS), with Dr Sue Onslow acting as lead researcher and interviewer.
Since the project launched in 2013, Dr Onslow has talked to 65 leading players involved in the Commonwealth from 1965 to the present. They include the Commonwealth Secretaries General Sir ‘Sonny’ Ramphal, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, and Sir Don McKinnon; former prime ministers from across the Commonwealth; and two former British foreign secretaries, Sir Malcolm Rifkind and Lord (Douglas) Hurd.
The interviews give an overview of the changing nature of the organisation over the last 50 years. The interviewees are often frank about the Commonwealth’s problems, but also give surprisingly positive insights, as well as candid assessments of its likely survival and future. These Commonwealth Oral Histories are freely available on a dedicated website hosted by SAS. The interviews:
● Throw new light on the Commonwealth’s attempts to end apartheid in South Africa
● Give behind-the-scenes accounts of relations with Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe
● Demonstrate conflicting assessments of Margaret Thatcher’s policy towards South Africa
● Provide rare insights into the Queen’s ‘hands-on’ role as Head of the Commonwealth
● Investigate the extent to which the Commonwealth was an important policy incubator in cancelling the debt of the world’s least developed countries
● Provide new details about challenging events for the Commonwealth such as Idi Amin’s brutal rule in Uganda, the invasion of Grenada in 1983 and the coups in Fiji in 1987, and 2000
● Chart the troubled history of efforts to reform the Commonwealth
To find out more and listen to the interviews go to: www.commonwealthoralhistories.org/
The OHS is pleased to announce the launch of special interest groups.
The groups are a response to increasing interest among OHS members for ways to develop networks and facilitate discussion and activities with others who share common interests and concerns.
We start with three special interest groups:
A group can elect its own officers and develop its own plan of work and activities: seminars, conferences, training, publications, online videos, for example. It can draw up to £250 from the funds of the society annually to support its work, and can apply to the trustees for more. With the agreement of trustees a special interest group can also establish a group membership fee and raise additional funds to support its work.
Any member or group of members of the OHS can create a special interest group by submitting a proposal to OHS secretary Rob Perks. If successful, one or more trustees will act as co-conveners and then as liaison officers linking the group and trustees. Any member of the society can join a group – simply contact the group’s conveners through the webpage on the website.
If you are interested in joining or setting up a group click here.
Oral history charity Wild Rose Heritage and Arts, is to merge its multimedia archive with that of the Hebden Bridge-based charity Pennine Heritage.
Over 12 successful years, Wild Rose has captured the life stories of diverse communities living in the upper Calder Valley, including those who were born in other countries and people living alternative lifestyles, and brought together different generations through using techniques such as inter-generational interviewing.
It has created an important multimedia archive of local heritage, regularly copied by the British Library to their server, and made many creative uses of the materials generated. Schools have developed their own drama performances based on Wild Rose interviews and guided heritage walks combined healthy outdoor activity with fascinating and sometimes grizzly stories of residents past and present. A Wild Rose interview with Hebden Bridge musician Steve Tilston telling the story of a letter sent to him by John Lennon recently featured on the Hollywood film Danny Collins.
Pennine Heritage is a highly successful heritage charity, founded in 1979, that works to protect, promote and preserve the natural and built landscape of the South Pennines. Its current project, Pennine Horizons, aims to tell the 1000-year-old story of the interaction between the Pennine landscape and the move from an agrarian to an industrial society.
A major part of the project is the Pennine Horizons Digital Archive which consists of many photographic collections, including the Alice Longstaff Gallery Collection, Co-operative Heritage Trust, Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Society, Todmorden Antiquarian Society, Hebden Bridge Local History Society, Hebden Bridge Camera Club, Calderdale MBC. This community digital archive also contains many smaller, important collections.
The project has also developed a series of trails around the valleys and made them available through printed guides as well as offering them as e-Trails for download to portable devices.
The merger comes as Tony Wright, founder and manager of Wild Rose Heritage and Arts, steps down from his role after 12 successful years. Over this period, Tony has overseen the delivery of five major projects and secured £275,000 of funding to support the charity’s work.
Tony Wright said: “Together our volunteers, interviewees and the Wild Rose management committee have created an important new heritage collection that has already been put to innovative uses.
“My aim over the last 12 years has been to promote an understanding of the contribution that diversity and change make to heritage and community, involving others to enhance individual lives and community awareness.
“As the aims of the two charities are well aligned and the outputs sit so well together, we considered it a great opportunity to add out work to the impressive Pennine Heritage Collection.”
Tudor Gwynn, Chair of Wild Rose Heritage and Arts, said: “Our vision and hard work has made an important and unique contribution to understanding our past and present.
“Tony and the Wild Rose team have created an archive that enables people to enjoy with interest the personal life stories of older residents, as well as younger people’ lives and
perspectives. We have created an archive for now and for future generations and we are delighted that it is to find a new home.”
Judith Schofield, Chair of Pennine Heritage said: “We are delighted that the Wild Rose archive is finding a new home with us. Our work to tell the story of the industrial and social revolution in the area will be enriched through the addition of their innovative content”.
The merger of Wild Rose with Pennine Heritage will take place later this year and the Wild Rose website will continue to run so that its content can continue to be accessed.
Urban History Group 2016. University of Cambridge, 31 March – 1 April
Re-Evaluating the Place of the City in History
As the devolution of powers to cities gains political momentum in the UK it brings into sharper focus the roles of towns and cities in previous times and cultures. Since 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the first conference devoted to urban history (Leicester 1966) it provides the Urban History Group Annual Conference an opportunity to: a) clarify the general scope and methods of urban history, and b) to examine the potential for comparative research – both issues addressed in 1966. With the political developments in Britain, and a special issue of the Journal of Urban History in the USA, it is thus timely to question the historical role of the city.
The central themes of the 2016 conference are:
1. To what extent is the city a ‘site’ for action or an active agent that shapes behaviour and decision-making?
2. Should scholars disrupt the existing typologies by which towns and cities are defined?
3. Do scholars from other fields, including but not limited to, economic, social, cultural history, historical geography and/or urban studies, conceptualise the role of the city differently within their research, and how can this inform a deeper understanding of urban development?
4. By what means, if at all, has the non-western city played a role in redefining our conceptual and empirical understanding of urban historical processes?
5. In what ways do the ideas of key authors such as Lewis Mumford, Henri Lefebvre, Jane Jacobs, Manuel Castells, Fernand Braudel and others remain relevant to the study of urban history?
These issues are located across time and space and the conference organisers welcome papers from Britain, Europe and the wider world from 1600-2016. The conference committee invites proposals for individual papers as well as for panel sessions of up to 3 papers. Sessions that seek to draw comparisons across one or more countries or periods, or open up new vistas for original research, are particularly encouraged.
Issues to be considered can include but are not limited to:
*Representations of the city
*Comparative and transnational methodologies
*Inter-disciplinary research on the city
*The history and heritage of the city
*Urban governance and relationships between city and region
*Emerging methodologies for researching the city
*The urban biography in relation to urban theory
Abstracts of up to 300 words, including a paper or panel title, name, affiliation and contact details should be submitted to the conference organiser and should indicate clearly how the content of the paper addresses the conference themes outlined above. Those wishing to propose sessions should provide a brief statement that identifies the ways in which the session will address the conference theme, a list of speakers, and abstracts. The final deadline for proposals for sessions and papers is 2 October 2015.
The conference will again host its new researchers’ forum and first year PhD sessions. The new researchers’ forum is aimed primarily at those who, at an early stage of a PhD or early career research project, wish to discuss ideas rather than to present findings. These new researchers’ papers need not be related to the main conference theme, but should follow the same submission process as outlined above. Additionally, there will once again be some limited opportunities for first-year PhD students to present 10 minute introductions to their topics, archival materials, and the specific urban historiography in which their work sits. The intention here is to allow students at the start of their projects to outline their plans and research questions and obtain helpful feedback and suggestions from active and experienced researchers in the field of Urban History.
If you wish to be considered for the new researchers’ forum or for the first-year PhD sessions, please indicate this on your submission.
Bursaries. Students registered for a PhD can obtain a modest bursary on a first come, first served basis to offset expenses associated with conference registration and attendance. Please send an e-mail application to Professor Richard Rodger at email@example.com and also ask your supervisor to confirm your status as a registered PhD student with an e-mail to the same address. Deadline 4th December 2015. The Urban History Group would like to acknowledge the Economic History Society for its support for these bursaries.
For further details and to submit your abstract please contact the Conference Organiser:
Dr Rebecca Madgin
Urban Studies, School of Social & Political Sciences
University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ
Tel: 0141 330 3847
For New Researchers and First Year PhD presentations Dr James Greenhalgh School of History and Heritage University of Lincoln Brayford Pool Lincoln LN6 7TS
Tel: 01522 83 7729
More information about this article can be found at: this link.
Society for Military History, 83rd Annual Meeting, Ottawa, Canada, 14 – 17 April 2016.
The 83rd Annual Meeting of the Society for Military History will be hosted by the Canadian War Museum and the Canadian Museum of History. ‘Geography as history’ is one of the Canadian War Museum’s overarching themes, reflected throughout its permanent galleries in discussions of topography and its influence on battle, and the gradual conquest of distance bytechnology, population movement, and communications. Wars are now fought on and over the surface of the earth, on and under its adjacent oceans, in space, in the electromagnetic spectrum, and on the Internet. Traditional boundaries are regularly transgressed, imperfectly administered, and unevenly acknowledged. Moreover, fighting forces can blend with civilians in asymmetric warfare, blurring the lines between combatants and non-combatants.
Borders and boundaries – geographic, political, or conceptual – remain important to the study of military history. The program committee has therefore welcomed paper and panel proposals on all aspects of military history, while especially encouraging submissions that reflect on this theme.
Further details: email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about the call for papers can be found via the link below.
More information about this article can be found at: this link.
Shelley Trower and Amy Tooth Murphy. Memories of Fiction. PLEASE NOTE DATE CHANGE
Please note that this oral history research seminar will take place on November 5th, not October 1st as originally advertised.
Thursday November 5th 2015: Shelley Trower and Amy Tooth Murphy, University of Roehampton, “She used to get lost in a book”: approaching gendered reading through two archives (Memories of Fiction and 100 Families).
Oral history seminars at the Institute of Historical Research are open to all and free to attend.
European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) Life History and Biography Network Annual Conference, Canterbury Cathedral, 3 – 6 March 2016.
From its first meeting in Geneva, in 1993, the Life History and Biography Network of ESREA has been a forum for a wide range of researchers, including doctoral students, drawing on different disciplinary backgrounds, and coming from every corner of Europe, and beyond. Life history and biographical approaches in adult education and lifelong learning are very diverse, and our conferences are based on recognition and celebration of this diversity.
We have decided to focus here on the place and nature of hope in learning lives, and of the resources of hope that we draw on as both researchers and people, whether at an individual or collective level. We want to consider the role of hope in building better dialogue and connection between diverse peoples, at a time when dialogue often seems difficult and the other and otherness can be experienced as a threat rather than a source of enrichment. The other may be someone of a different class, religion, ethnicity, nationality, age, gender, sexual orientation etc. and the dynamics of our interaction may be stifled. Perhaps we may need new resources of hope to help in building a new politics and education of and for humanity, across difference; and for strengthening democratic processes in contexts of diversity.
Among the questions we will ask are: what resources of hope are foregrounded in our research?;what resources of hope have been important in our own lives?; can life-based or narrative research itself offer resources of hope, and if so how and why? Life-histories and auto/biographies represent potential sites of innovation, for transformative learning, for community and political action, in diverse settings as well as for, at a different level, experience, perhaps, of the numinous and sacred. In such terms researching lives goes far beyond ‘pure research’ – or a detached view of academic research in an ivory tower – towards a highly nuanced as well as subjectivist sensibility. The conference seeks to build dialogue around this theme, and differing ways of understanding it: between those who may see the issue as to do with challenging oppression in the secular world and securing control over processes of production and or reproduction; or those who think the spiritual, or even the religious, is a crucial resource of hope (not least given the location of our conference in the Cathedral grounds). We will also be attentive to weaving into our work previous themes of our conferences: embodiment and narrative, critical reflection, social change, agency.
One goal of this conference is to encourage all participants to reflect on their research and to ask themselves about the meaning of hope, at both a social and maybe a more intimate and individual level, as well as methodologically: where hope might lie, in short, in the business of doing research itself, in its myriad forms and dimensions.
Further information: Professor Laura Formenti, email email@example.com; or Professor Linden West: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information on the call for papers can be found at the link below.
More information about this article can be found at: this link.
York Oral History Society is still involved in a major HLF-funded First World War project. We have 285 recordings which were conducted in about 1980 with veterans from all over the country, but mainly Yorkshire and Cambridge. They were all done by Dr Alf Peacock, warden of York Educational Settlement.
There are also interviews with some conscientious objectors. We will be producing a book and exhibition and commemorative event next June, as well as running workshops in two local schools using the material about the war. A large percentage of the grant has been spent on digitising and transcribing the recordings. Unfortunately the transcribing has been very mixed, with even some professionals producing poor quality results. Admittedly the voices are not always clear, but we were surprised at the quality, and it meant that a lot of correcting was needed. The best transcriber has been Carolyn Mumford of Harrogate who I would heartily recommend.
Our project is different from most other First World War projects because our activities and publication will commemorate the survivors. Wounded physically, psychologically and emotionally, they still survived the war years. We are now trying to trace relatives of as many of the interviewees as possible, to obtain photos and to give them copies of the recordings. Those who we have traced have expressed their delight in receiving a copy of the interview with their father, grandfather, uncle or other relative. Often these men did not talk about the war with their own families but they were very open with Dr Peacock.
I am also doing some work with Beningbrough Hall, interviewing some of those men and women who had some involvement with the hall during the Second World War when it was requisitioned by the Canadian Air Force. The stories of some of these people form the basis of a trail at the Hall and an archive. Also this month my book on Coney Street, York, historically the centre of the city, has been published by York Archaeological Trust, combining historical research with oral history (I interviewed nearly 50 people).
Michelle Winslow & John Tanner
The past year has seen healthy oral history activity in South Yorkshire, with lots of projects coming to completion, others securing funding, and lots of events happening across the region at which oral history has played a part.
One exciting development is Experience Barnsley, the new Barnsley Museum and Discovery Centre, which has opened and hit its annual visitor targets in the first four months. Most of the objects and stories have been donated by the people of Barnsley. Through large touch-screens, visitors can listen to donors talking about what they’ve contributed to the museum, why, associated stories and what it means to them. Listening posts have been carefully designed to be changeable, with staff able to change content and rotate tracks on a regular basis. A special part of the Making History gallery celebrates voice, dialect and oral history – including a touch-screen interactive on which visitors can choose an interviewee, then choose effective questions to prompt stories and memories. A new Archives Discovery Centre has been created too, which at the moment offers an initial easily accessible selection of material from the new sound and film archive. This is being extended and a new visitor interface developed over the course of the next few months. http://www.experience-barnsley.com/
Two other exciting oral history-related projects have just received funding in Barnsley. These include Barnsley People’s Sport, a two-year project to capture memories and stories about popular participation in sport in the town. The new Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership spans large parts of Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham. This five-year £1.9m project involves improving access to sites, conservation of built heritage and an extensive programme of community engagement and oral history. These projects were represented at our 2013 regional network meeting held at ‘Experience Barnsley’. Seventeen people gathered to share and discuss their work, with presentations from John Tanner and Richard King (Barnsley Arts, Museums and Archives) and David Clayton (Shaw Lane Peoples Sport Project. Kate Burland and Dr Charles West (University of Sheffield) presented work on their projects ‘Black Country to Black Barnsley’, a study of dialect, and the ‘Witness Oral History project’, involving a group of students in researching particular aspects of Sheffield’s past.
A presenter at last year’s South Yorkshire regional meeting, Gary Rivett (University of Sheffield) sends this update about project work focusing on Sheffield’s long and vibrant history of community and political activism: Over the past fifty years Sheffield’s activists have been vigorous and energetic campaigners on numerous social, economic, ethnic and political issues. This heritage is often lost or little known. Activists rarely archive or record their experiences. Their time and efforts are directed towards the important work of improving and defending the lives and livelihoods of local people. Sheffield’s history has long been shaped by an especially strong sense of civic and community engagement, whilst also being well known for its radicalism. The history of Sheffield’s activist heritage is an untold part of a much broader story of the City’s past. The project collects the campaign stories, memories and objects from activists, who campaigned between 1960 and the present day. Oral histories interviews are performed by volunteers trained by the project. These stories are collected and stored in Sheffield Archives, ensuring their accessibility to the general public. For more information contact Gary Rivett. email@example.com
A further project achieving much success is Researching Community Heritage, an AHRC funded project at the University of Sheffield. The research team have been working with community groups and organisations from across the region on Heritage Lottery Fund All Our Stories projects as well as developing new collaborative heritage projects. University students have also been working with community groups to record oral histories. Archaeology and English Literature students worked with the Heeley History Workshop, a local history group, to record stories and memories of social life in the area. They combined the recordings with moving images and archival photography to create a photo-film with photographer Gemma Thorpe – the film is available to view here: http://vimeo.com/68523096. Other projects collecting stories and memories include the Bengali Women’s Support Group who have been recording women’s readings and interpretations of traditional poetry and song and Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team who have been capturing memories of the World War II tank range at Langsett and Midhope. For more information on these projects and related events see: http://communityheritage.group.shef.ac.uk/ or e-mail Dr Kimberley Marwood at: firstname.lastname@example.org
An oral history and photography project in the Sheffield Macmillan Unit for Palliative Care continues to work with patients to produce audio life story recordings and photographs, funded by the Sheffield Hospitals Charity. The past year has been particularly exciting due to success in gaining two Macmillan Cancer Support grants. (1) The ‘Oral History Pilot Study’ is a two year project that is piloting oral history services in six centres in the north of England and Northern Ireland, based on the service in Sheffield. The project completes in September 2014 and evaluation will determine whether oral history as a service can be rolled out nationally. (2) ‘How does providing an oral history at the end of life influence well-being of the individual and the bereaved?’. This 12 month study is exploring the impact of oral history in palliative care with patients who make recordings and family who listen to them in bereavement, it completes at the end of November 2013 and has produced insightful feedback. For more information please contact Michelle Winslow: email@example.com
This year a growing body of academics and post-graduate students at the University of Hull have formed an informal group meeting regularly to discuss oral history theory and practice, sharing ideas and experiences. Ongoing interview work by members of this group includes research into memories of the fishing industry in the town, and into nursing in the British empire. There have been two community oral history projects that I know of within, or close to, my region. Both are HLF funded. The first is a project to record the memories of workers at Scampston Hall estate, near Malton, for use in the restoration and reinterpretation of buildings on the grounds. The second is an ongoing project by the High Wolds Heritage Group, who have been collecting memories of life in a remote farming area and have just published a collection of these memories in a book ‘Voices from the Wolds’ with an accompanying DVD. More information about each project can be found at their respective websites: http://www.scampston.co.uk/ and http://www.highwolds.org.uk/. A mention should also be made of the East Riding Museums Service, whose staff and volunteers continue to undertake excellent work collecting, catalogue and making publicly available oral history from residents of the county, on a wide range of subjects.
I have given advice by telephone and email to a number of groups, and I recently spoke about oral history to a meeting of the Archives and Records Association (ARA) in the Hull History Centre, where I of course spoke of the range of services provided by the Oral History Society.
Heather Nicholson on behalf of University of Huddersfield
Heather Norris Nicholson reports:
Much work continues in and beyond the Centre for Visual and Oral History (CVOHR), as projects reach completion and new projects get underway. This report captures some of the variety and apologies for any initiatives that may be overlooked. The University of Huddersfield’s Archives and Special Collections has received HLF funding for four years that will greatly boost online and public access to different heritage collections including the archives of the Rugby League and the British Music Collection. From later 2014 the project will develop greater emphasis also on community outreach that will enhance oral history practice across the region. Work has also begun on the Our Minds, Our History HLF funded All Our Stories project. The project is being carried out by St Anne’s Community Services as part of an AHRC funded scheme, Heritage and Stigma: The History of Learning Disabilities and involves Drs Rob Light and Rob Ellis and a team of care workers from the Kirklees area in interviewing clients about their experiences and changing approaches to care for people with mental illness over the last 40 years. Related work includes a recent exhibition entitled Nothing With Us, Without Us: The History of Learning Disabilities in Leeds that featured interview clips on themes of changes in care for people with learning disabilities, local experiences and the future of learning disabilities. http://www.leedsmencap.org.uk/history-of-learning-disabilities.
On-going individual staff projects involve a range of interviews on different topics including mining apprentices, volunteer nurses with Médecins Sans Frontières and filmmakers. Students are involved in collecting memories of international rugby league at the World Cup Celebration Day in November and also in a pilot oral history project on the history of the co-operative movement in Northern England during the 1956-2013 period. This latter collaborative partnership with the universities of Northumbria, Central Lancashire and Liverpool John Moores has the potential to become a major historical source.
Recent staff oral-history related publications include work on French experiences during World War II, the Miners’ Strike of 1984, former intelligence officers, amateur film makers and James Mason. Other current oral history work addresses aspects of Methodist history, local choral traditions, and postgraduates are working on different local migration experiences particularly within the South Asian and Eastern European communities, the BBC in Yorkshire 1945-90, Queer identity, and links with community memories and urban regeneration. Individual postgraduates also contribute valuably to the OHS/British Library led History of Parliament Trust Oral History project, as well as different local community initiatives. Recent seminars hosted by CVOHR include a presentation by Michelle Winslow and Sam Smith (Academic Unit of Supportive Care, University of Sheffield) on the contribution of oral history and palliative care. Jodie William, travelling as a 2013 Churchill Fellowfrom Norfolk Island in the South Pacific, brought a new dimension to community outreach during her recent visit. Spotting online The Sound Craft Place Vision project, her seminar provided an interdisciplinary opportunity to discuss her wishes to develop oral histories, archives and visual projects to record the island’s diverse histories and cultural inheritance. Discussions covered issues of identity, cultural retention and intergenerational memory, dissonant heritage associated with penal settlements, and the need for better understanding of Polynesian traditions and the Manxian legacies that derive from the island’s nineteenth century settlement by crew members associated with the mutiny on HMS Bounty.
An exploration of Huddersfield’s significance in the roots of UK reggae recently culminated in a Sound System Culture, a lively multi-media exhibition that features interviews, as well as songs, vinyl records and an interactive DJ booth equipped with turntable, records and recorded voices and a noisy launch that included opening words by Professor Paul Ward at the local Tolson Museum. Another new exhibition at the Tolson focuses on rugby league heritage and again features extensive oral material. In contrast, the RSPB Dove Stone Memory Bank project has created a memoryscape audio trail, two publications and extensive interview clips. The result is a fascinating record of lives, livelihoods and landscapes associated with a rugged upland area known as the Chew Valley within the Peak District National Park. It captures the memories and a sense of period in documenting the lived experiences of people directly affected by and involved in decisions associated with building a reservoir (opened in 1967) to supply water to communities west of the Pennines and in the Greater Manchester region. Further details of these and other initiatives are available via the CVOHR website, http://www.hud.ac.uk/research/researchcentres/cvohr/news/
(Michelle Winslow & John Tanner)
Many oral history projects are underway in South Yorkshire and here we report on a few, particularly reflecting a growing body of work taking place in universities.
In July of this year we held a 13th Regional Network meeting in Sheffield; this annual event is free to anyone with an interest in oral history in the region. The day was a mix of discussion and project presentations. Gary Rivett (University of Sheffield) began the day with an excellent presentation about his project ‘Stories of Activism in Sheffield. 1960-2012’. Alison Twells (Sheffield Hallam University) followed with a community history session in which she sought views and ideas for a new website; Michelle Winslow (University of Sheffield) presented work taking place in palliative care; and Elizabeth Carnegie (University of Sheffield) facilitated a session on oral history in museums. Plans for next year’s event are already underway; if you are interested in taking part please contact Michelle (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The website referred to above will provide an online community presence for South Yorkshire and is currently being developed by Alison Twells, Michelle Winslow and John Tanner (Barnsley Museums). The site will bring together community and oral history organisations and activities in the region; it will showcase and publicise community history events and projects, and gather groups and activities in South Yorkshire ‘under one roof’ (virtually speaking). It will offer opportunities to gain knowledge from other groups about, for example, writing a funding bid, buying equipment, and developing books and exhibitions. The website also aims to make available an extensive archive of digital resources relating to South Yorkshire’s history.
Alison Twells sends a report about work at Sheffield Hallam University with students who took part in oral history interviews as part of a new third-year module, ‘C20th Women: life stories and social change’. Most focused on the Sixties, interviewing family, neighbours and acquaintances about their experience of that decade, while others focused on women’s experience of work and domesticity during World War Two and after. They also enjoyed getting their teeth into oral history theory, via Lynn Abrams’ recent book of that title. Students undertook oral history interviews for their work on a ‘Community History’ module and one of them, Alexander, developed a KS2 teaching resource on the Sheffield Blitz, using as a centrepiece his interview with his grandmother.
An oral history initiative taking place at the University of Sheffield is now entering its second year. Charles West writes that ‘Witness: Preserving Sheffield’s Past’ is a project run by students from the Department of History who will be conducting interviews on topics relating to living in Sheffield in the 1980s, and the Second World War in Sheffield. Last year’s interviews, and the report that came out of them, can be viewed at http://www.witness.group.shef.ac.uk/ If you’d like to find out more, or are interested in helping out, please contact email@example.com
In the Sheffield Macmillan Unit for Palliative Care, an oral history project continues to offer a service for people staying in the unit with the support of the Northern General Hospital Charitable Trust. The project began in 2007 under the auspices of the Academic Unit of Supportive Care, University of Sheffield. Michelle Winslow, the project lead, Sam Smith, and a team of volunteers make life history recordings with people diagnosed with life-limiting illness. This year Michelle is working with St Luke’s Hospice to establish a second service in the city. The new service recently featured in a Radio 4 documentary, ‘Dad’s Last Tape’, produced by Clare Jenkins, who explored why people record their life stories and what impact those stories have on other people. Michelle is also pleased to announce a new partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support; this national charity has agreed to fund both a pilot study of oral history in palliative care and a project to explore the impact of oral history with participants and bereaved family and friends. Regarding the first study, five project pilot sites in the north of England will be confirmed shortly, after which volunteers will be recruited to work as oral historians. A call for volunteers will appear on the OHS volunteer page in the coming months: www.ohs.org.uk/volunteers/index.php . For more information contact Michelle Winslow: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Barnsley, an opening date of May 2013 has been set for the opening of Experience Barnsley, the new, and first, Barnsley Museum with an associated Discovery Centre. The Discovery Centre incorporates Barnsley Archives together with a new Sound and Film Archive, and an opportunity for visitors to see and touch museum objects in an archival environment. Oral history is a major focus of the new Museum, both in the collation of existing collections and in carrying out new interviews. A number of very important collections have been brought together, news of which will be shared soon. There will be a host of different types of audio interpretation in the new galleries, and a Voice section of a Making History Gallery, in which younger visitors will be able to carry out interviews with characters on a life-sized screen.
Elsewhere in Barnsley, a host of groups of organisations are starting up new projects involving oral history, including a number of sports-based projects, and some very innovative ideas being developed with older members of the community and sheltered accommodation across the borough. Excellent work is taking place around industrial archaeology in the East Peak, which is hoped to provide a model for future work. A number of heritage sites are using oral history extensively in major reinterpretation projects, to share the stories of those sites in their original form, but also as public heritage sites valued by local communities and as visitor attractions through the 20th century. These include a country house, art gallery, water-mill and a large Victorian industrial heritage complex.
Doncaster Sound Archive has continued to run small-scale projects in the community, working with elderly people in reminiscence sessions and also engaging volunteers from third-sector organisations in work-based learning. In addition, Real-to-Reel Media and Doncaster Sound Archive have pooled their audio-visual and sound-editing equipment and made it freely available to other local groups. Dave Angel reports that this has proved worthwhile, as some people often want to initiate oral history work, but have limited access to such resources. The archive also offers help in using the equipment, and so far, this practice has worked well. Anyone interested can contact the archive at: email@example.com
Grace Tebbutt, Community History Project Officer, sends news from The Manor Castle Village community which represents a lost heritage. In the shadows of a grand Tudor estate grew a small village settlement on the outskirts of Sheffield city centre. This community thrived and adapted, lasting for two centuries. Although the Manor Castle Village area is now situated in an increasingly urban district, its position in a relatively rural enclave on the outskirts of the city originally allowed a ‘village’ type environment to evolve. Activities focused on the Methodist Chapel encouraged a communal spirit between residents and many occupants stayed in the area for much of their lives. Family ties are evident throughout the village’s history, allowing a rich heritage of inherited memories to build up which are still very much alive today. Since the demolition of the Chapel in 1982 the story of the Manor area has changed significantly. The Manor Castle Village Group has been meeting frequently during the past year: it consists of ex and current residents of the area, many of whom have witnessed huge changes in the district, from rural village to one of the country’s biggest municipal housing estates. Their memories will contribute to the ‘Hands on our Heritage’ project at Manor Lodge where a 1940s living cottage farm is in development. Many of the residents experienced events during the Second World War and have been able to help build up an accurate and insightful picture of the immediate area in the interwar and post war period. Finally, several members of the group will be involved in a film to document their stories. It is hoped that this film will be used for a local screening and to build up awareness of the fascinating hidden heritage of this area of Sheffield today. For more information please contact: G.Tebbutt@greenestate.org
I became the Regional Networker for East Yorkshire in Spring this year, and it has been a quiet one so far, partly because I have been busy working on amendments to my PhD thesis. The thesis utilises oral histories to tell the story of working-class community in Beverley, East Yorkshire, relating personal experiences to broader theories about community and to particular discourses about changes in working-class life in the post-war ‘age of affluence’. I plan to archive the recordings (over 100) made for this project in the East Riding Archives in the Treasure House, Beverley. In my capacity as Regional Networker, I have had two email enquiries thus far, one about oral history relating to mining in Yorkshire and the second about Land Army memories, and I was able to point the enquirers towards relevant material in each case. In terms of oral history projects taking place ‘in my patch’, the only active collecting I am aware of is that undertaken by the East Riding Museums Service, whose rolling programme of temporary exhibitions on rural life and the regions market towns involves collection of testimony from local residents. Recent subjects include circuses, Beverley’s ancient common pastures, almshouses and workhouses in the East Riding of Yorkshire. I look forward to becoming more involved in the work of the society after seeing off my thesis amendments, and therefore aim to have more to report next year.
Centre for Visual and Oral History Research (CVOHR)
History at the University of Huddersfield has two research students working in the oral history: Jo Dyrlaga has just started her PhD on oral history and performance and identity in the Manchester drag scene, and Simon Bradley is in the third year of researching the location of oral history within the environment as augmented reality, based on the regeneration of Holbeck in Leeds. Both are AHRC-funded. While the MA Oral History was closed as a response to government changes in higher education funding, the University of Huddersfield still runs an MA in Oral History by Research, with some fee waivers available. Current students are involved in an oral history of Huntington’s Disease and developing software relating to the intersection of oral history, sonic art and locative media. Past Masters students have conducted projects on urban space and immigration in Huddersfield, POWs in East Yorkshire, the oral history of Yorkshire TV, mining in the north-east and waste-pickers in India. The Yeoman Warders Oral History project, funded by the university and led by Paul Wilcock and Paul Ward, has interviewed more than 15 Beefeaters at the Tower of London. Paul Ward also conducted an oral history interview with Margaret Lister – the winner of the National Coal Board’s 1972 Coal Queen Competition as part of an artist project called Mining Couture: A Manifesto for Common Wear by Barber Swindells.
The University of Huddersfield’s Centre for Oral History Research (COHR) has now been renamed Centre for Visual and Oral History Research (CVOHR), under direction of Stephen Dorril, Director of CVOHR. The centre is host to several projects including Asian Voices, the ‘Up and Under’ Rugby League project, Two Minute Silence and Greenhead Stories. Projects and oral histories can be accessed via the University of Huddersfield’s CVOHR website http://www.hud.ac.uk/cvohr/. Current projects include the Centre’s Sound, Craft, Vision and Place project, managed by Dr. Rob Light.
The Centre for Visual and Oral History research (CVHOR) presents two new publications:
- Asian Voices book: Ali, Nafhesa. Asian Voices: First generation migrants. Riley Dunn & Wilson Ltd: Huddersfield, 2010.
- ‘Up and Under’ rugby league book: Light, Robert. No Sand Dunes in Featherstone. London League Publication Ltd: London, 2010.
Steve Burnip is a Senior lecturer at the University of Huddersfield, and his recent MA project and website archives oral histories of key people involved in the History of Yorkshire Regional Television. Memories of Yorkshire TV can be accessed on http://memoriesofytv.weebly.com/. Steve Burnip gives his seminar on YTV on the 24th Oct at 4.15pm at the University of Huddersfield.
Local History Society: Asian Voices
The Local History Society continues it collaborative work with local history groups in West Yorkshire and presents my Asian Voices talk ‘From South Asia to Springwood,’ South Asian migration in Huddersfield post 1960, at the Huddersfield Town Hall on Monday 25th March, 2013. For further details and booking please contact John Rawlinson, Chair of the Huddersfield Society JohnRawlinson@aol.com.
Kirklees Heritage Forum
2012, has seen the development of the Kirklees Heritage Forum, chaired by Bill Roberts. The Heritage Forum brings together oral historians, archivists and community organisations who are jointly developing a Heritage Lottery Fund pre-application.
The Oral History Company
The Oral History Company, based in Leeds, is a network of full-time freelance professionals with a common interest in producing high quality oral history. Recent projects include Leeds City Varieties Music Hall (2010-2011). Further details of The Oral History Company can be found at http://theoralhistorycompany.com/?page_id=142.