European Reminiscence Network (Pam Schweitzer)
Work at University of Greenwich:
In October 2015, the European Reminiscence Network hosted a showcase at the University of Greenwich, which brought together older people from the Greenwich Pensioners Forum, drama and history students from the University of Greenwich and young people from Dresden. The older people (aged 82-98) performed a specially created piece of theatre based on their own wartime experience, the Greenwich students performed devised shows based on wartime reminiscence taken from the Reminiscence Theatre Archive, and the Dresden students performed their take on stories about the war told them by elderly relatives. The one-day event was reported in the current work section of the OH Journal (Spring 2016)
Over 100 people attended, including Greenwich students of theatre and history, local pensioners, University staff, school students from Dresden (Germany) and project leaders from two Dresden organizations. (There is a fuller report on this in my last year’s Regional Network report.)
Following on from this event, I have continued working with Greenwich students, taking the work in a new direction as part of a new international intergenerational partnership entitled ‘Understanding the Past: Building the Future’. This is a partnership project supported by the European Union under the Europe for Citizens scheme. Led by Jugend und Kultur, an intergenerational project in Dresden, this EU partnership works to promote inter-generational understanding through oral history, reminiscence and the arts. Partners are in Thessaloniki (University Art Department) Macedonia (Skopije University Art Department) Wroclaw, Poland (Culture Center of Olesnica and the Chamber of Memories) Budapest, Hungary (European project in the community) and European Reminiscence Network in partnership with University of Greenwich.
We have had 3 meetings already this year in Dresden, Thessaloniki and Wroclaw, with further meetings planned for Dresden, Budapest and London. In each venue we have seen the work on the ground produced by art, music, theatre and history students of the local universities and colleges in response to oral testimonies (live and recorded) of living through war, occupation, totalitarianism and oppression.
On 9th December 2016, there will be an event at the University of Greenwich for sharing the work of this international inter-generational project. It will feature presentations from Germany, Hungary and Thessaloniki. The university of Greenwich drama and history students will show the work they have produced on the project, hopefully with local schoolchildren. (Further details on the OHS website)
As part of the inter-generational programme ‘Understanding the Past: Building the Future’, I have been introducing University of Greenwich drama students to ‘Theatre-in-Education’ as an inter-generational approach to Reminiscence Theatre work. One student, Charlotte Price-Stevens, on a work placement with me created a theatre show with four fellow-students and we took this into schools to play for and with pupils aged 8-11. The students read wartime evacuation stories in the Reminiscence Theatre Archive at the University and then created a piece of participatory theatre based on these stories.
A crucial part of their show was the participation of real life evacuees (in their 80s) who had participated in our reminiscence theatre event last year. Four of these pensioners shared their stories with the children, who then worked with them in small groups and then performed scenes based on these stories for one another. There was plenty of follow-up work in the classroom and teachers and students were well satisfied.
Presenting the new European inter-generational oral history Project: “Remembering the Past: Building the Future”
Presentations from international partners in Germany, Hungary, the UK and Greece, followed by performances by the University of Greenwich students of drama, and local school children. Another free event but people must register if wishing to attend. All enquiries initially to Pam Schweitzer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
London (Sarah Gudgin)
Throughout the year in my role as Oral History Society Regional Networker for London, I have fielded calls, emails and enquiries concerning oral history, mainly giving pre-application advice to groups or individuals contacting me via the Oral History Society Webpages. However, it seems that this year has been quieter in terms of organisations seeking advice for new projects being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. There have been other types of enquiries which have been more time consuming, such as PHD students wishing to interview me about work my past oral history work at Museum of London, reminding me why I prefer to be the one holding the microphone! I have also continued to share my oral history expertise within the museum and heritage sector carrying out interviews, evaluations and training.
I have enjoyed collaborating with Siobhan Warrington of Oral Testimony Works on an oral history project with young people via The Winch, a youth and community organisation in north London. The Memories of Swiss Cottage oral history project saw us train youth work staff and volunteers and devise oral history training materials suitable for year 6 pupils who were based in two local schools. This resulted in 19 new recordings, which the young people will use as the basis of continuing creative work, as well as an exhibition.
For the Snapshots Project, a photographic commission and research project, I carried out interviews with people with dementia and their carers, to explore how memory based art and reminiscence work can support people with dementia. This was a collaboration with Westminster Arts, which resulted in the Snapshots Exhibition as part of Dementia Awareness week.
Leicestershire & Rutland (Cynthia Brown & Colin Hyde)
The East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) held its annual Oral History Day at Nottingham Central Library in June 2016 on the theme of ‘Oral History and Health’. It was organised by Colin Hyde, Cynthia Brown and Verusca Calabria, OHS Regional Network representatives for the East Midlands, and drew an audience from across the region. It included presentations on Verusca’s PhD research into the role of social support and networks in psychiatric hospitals in Nottinghamshire, and that of Yewlande Okuleye on issues around the ‘re-medicalisation’ of cannabis as a medicine. Other contributions covered an HLF-funded project to document twenty five years of the history of Leicestershire AIDS Support Service (LASS); the Boots oral history project to capture the memories of past and present employees and the different perspectives that they can bring to the company history; and reflections from a volunteer for a project in Kent the extent to which talking about her memories helped to reduce some of the anxiety and distress of a patient with Parkinson’s Disease.
An oral history project focusing on the development of Leicester’s heritage from World War II to the present has been awarded a £45,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project, called ‘Changing Leicester’, will tell the story through oral testimony of the beginnings of heritage development in the 1950s and 1960s, continuing through the evolution of archaeological research, and reaching a peak with the discovery and re-interment of the bones of King Richard III which put Leicester on the world’s map. It will record changing perceptions of the importance of buried remains and local heritage, the impact of heritage preservation on local people, and the way that heritage preservation is reflected in the media. It is led by the Leicestershire Archaeological & Historical Society (LAHS) in partnership with Leicester Arts & Museums Service and EMOHA. Project staff and volunteers will seek out memories and memorabilia from across the city, and there will be exhibitions in a Leicester museum and community venues in 2017.
EMOHA has also secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a one year project to record an oral history of post-war Leicester 1945-1962. This will enlist volunteers to record memories of as many aspects of life in Leicester in the post-war period as possible. The results will feed into Leicester City Council’s Story of Leicester website. Further information at http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/community/postwarleicester.html. EMOHA continues to provide training for oral history projects across the East Midlands. In 2015-16 these have included the Diwali project at Leicester City Council, which has recorded memories of people who have attended the festival over the years (see www.visitleicester.info/things-to-see-and-do/arts-museums/exhibitions/diwali/); the history of the Nupur Arts organisation in Leicester (www.nupurarts.org.uk/; and a project by the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham to record memories of the former Shire Hall where it is based (www.galleriesofjustice.org.uk/share-your-memories-with-the-galleries-of-justice-museum/).
Nottinghamshire (Verusca Calabria)
I’ve been transitioning from London to Nottingham in the last year hence I have been giving advice and supporting oral history projects in both regions.
I recorded 11 interviews with key players about the history of St Martins of Tour, a thriving charitable organisation in London that was set up in 1920 by the Catholic Fund to cater for homeless and destitute men. I wrote a brief history of St Martins and produced sound bites from the interviews. To find out more, visit: www.stmartinoftours.org.uk/about-us/history.
I provided advice to the Greater London Community Interest Company on their HLF application for an oral history project entitled ‘The Greater London Council 1981-86: retelling a forgotten history’. The grant application has been successful.
I have helped prepare the audio-visual archive for the oral history project ‘Twilight People Stories of Faith & Gender Beyond the Binary’. The archive has now been deposited at the London Metropolitan Archives. More information about the project can be found here: www.twilightpeople.com.
I helped Colin Hyde and Cynthia Brown to organise the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) annual Oral History Day at Nottingham Central Library in June 2016 on the theme of ‘Oral History and Health’. As part of the day, I gave a presentation based on my PhD research on the value of social support and social networks in psychiatric hospitals in Nottinghamshire.
As part of the aforementioned research, I am conducting oral history interviews with former patients and staff of the Nottinghamshire mental hospitals. I plan to deposit the recordings at the Nottingham’s Central Library – Local Studies section – upon completion of my fieldwork.
I am about to start teaching on the BA in Health and Social Care at Nottingham Trent University. I have introduced the theory and practice of oral history to the curriculum including the option of adopting a life history approach as part of the assessment process.
Essex (Martin Astell)
The Essex Record Office Sound and Video Archive project, You Are Hear: sound and a sense of place is now in its second year. A large number of archived oral history recordings have been digitised and made available through the Essex Archives Online catalogue. Listening benches have been installed in Colchester, Saffron Walden, Great Dunmow, Great Waltham, Kelvedon, Castle Hedingham, and Harwich. More listening benches and audio-visual kiosks have been touring the county, visiting places intended to reach people who would not necessarily think of visiting an archive. So far they have spent time at Stansted Airport, Hatfield Forest and a number of country parks. A further 11 listening benches will be installed in towns and villages across Essex in the next year. As part of the You Are Hear project, the Essex Record Office has also launched a new website – www.essexsounds.org.uk – which allows users to hear recordings linked to specific locations in Essex and also to compare historic and newly-created recordings from the same places.
The above project is primarily funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. There are a number of other oral history projects being carried out in Essex with funding from the HLF. Colchester and Tendring Women’s Refuge have begun a project exploring the turbulent early days of the women’s refuge movement. This project – called You Can’t Beat a Woman – should help to bring to light a valuable ‘untold story’ of the practical, political and personal difficulties involved in building from scratch a movement and institutions which we now take for granted.
The Essex Cultural Diversity Project are collecting stories from members of a range of minority ethnic communities who have used Thurrock as the starting point for their experiences in this country. Their project is called By Thames to all Peoples of the World: Thurrock Routes 1930-2004.
The Southend Association of Voluntary Services, in their project called Volunteering-on-Sea, are using an HLF Young Roots grant to help a group of young people to learn about the work of a number of charities based along the Southend seafront by interviewing volunteers who work for them. And the Mercury Theatre in Colchester has recently been awarded a grant for a two-year archive project which includes an oral history element. They will be working with the Colchester Recalled Oral History Group to gather interviews with people who have played a significant role (but not necessarily on stage) in the history of the theatre, but also people for whom the theatre has played a significant role in their lives.
The Maldon Society has received a grant from the Essex Heritage Trust to carry out interviews relating to the history of Maldon.
Video interviews with members of the Nepali community recorded as part of the Beyond the Gurkhas project organised by the Foundation for Indian Performing Arts (FIPA) have been deposited at the Essex Record Office. Other collections we have received over the last few months include interviews made by the Harwich Society; interviews with residents of the village of Clavering; over 60 interviews recorded as research for a Ph.D. into the effects of evacuation in the Second World War; and interviews with folk musicians and others about their experiences of the ‘folk movement’ in the 1960s.
Suffolk (Juliana Vandegrift)
This year sees the culmination of the three year HLF project ‘Eighth in the East’, a heritage project recording the story of the 8th United States Army Air Force in the East of England. Archive material was gathered and oral history recordings were made by volunteers. Further information can be found at http://www.8theast.org/oral-history/
In terms of enquiries received from members of the public, I’ve had less than half a dozen. Most of these were seeking advice for oral history projects outside of Suffolk. The lack of enquiries from people in Suffolk embarking on oral history projects prompted me to do a little investigative work on the Heritage Lottery Fund website. I discovered that since November 2015 the Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded grants in the East of England involving oral history recording to at least half a dozen groups ranging from Suffolk Wildlife Trust to the Bottolph Green Living History and Listening Project. However none of the groups has contacted me personally for advice so it’s hard to know where they got their advice from to write their bids. I noticed on the published minutes of grants awarded that several oral history bids for funding were rejected by the HLF East of England committee and I’m not in a position to comment on the standard of the applications as I was not asked for input or aware of their submission until the ‘rejected’ notice appeared. Having reflected about this, I think I need to request a meeting with the HLF East of England team to find out why the applications failed to get grants and how we can better publicise the Oral History Society’s advice and regional network which is available to assist groups and organisations submitting their bids.
Suffolk has less than a dozen paid up members in the Oral History Society, including institutions and I’d like to hold a one day event to promote oral history and our services to wider groups and also invite members. This is on my ‘to do’ list for 2017.
South Yorkshire hosted the 2016 Regional Network meeting at the Showroom Workstation, Sheffield, on the theme of ‘Oral History and Museums’. The morning session, for professional development, will be led by networkers Martin Bisiker (London), John Tanner (South Yorkshire), Cynthia Brown (East Midlands) and Padmini Broomfield (South East). The afternoon session is open to local members and speakers include Elizabeth Carnegie, University of Sheffield, and Tracy Craggs, Freelance Oral Historian and Yorkshire networker.
Our project news includes Barnsley Museums award of £51,500 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a ‘Joy of Sound and Vision’ project. Paul Stebbing, Archives and Local Studies Officer, reports that this will include conversion and making available of all sound and film collections held in the museum as well as the creation of new material. A highlight is the large series of oral history interviews undertaken by local oral historian Brian Elliott over a 30 year period. Covering themes such as sport, politics, industry and leisure, the interviews will significantly add to understandings of the development of South Yorkshire. http://www.experience-barnsley.com/archives-and-discovery-centre
Gary Rivett has sent news from the University of Sheffield about ‘Stories of Activism in Sheffield, 1960-present’. The city’s rich history of civic and social activism is diverse, with a near countless number of campaigns and community groups. The project, a collaboration between activists and the Department of History at the university, collects and archives the oral histories that have made up these experiences. The next collaboration will be with Sheffield Women Against Pit Closures, focusing on the pit camp at Houghton Main, a colliery near Barnsley, in 1993.’ http://storiesofactivism.group.shef.ac.uk/about-the-project/
Also at the University of Sheffield, Mariam Khokhar is carrying out oral history interviews with Pakistani women in Leicester and has additionally begun doctoral study on personal experiences of head and neck cancer in Pakistan.
A joint project between the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, funded by Sheffield Hospitals Charity, has been piloting oral history and life story methods with people with dementia. The project has conducted several interviews and is concentrating on understanding how best to work with interviewees to develop an ethically robust project. A partner project working with people in palliative care has had another successful year but is currently facing an uncertain future due to funding issues. Please contact Michelle Winslow for more information: email@example.com
The Heritage Lottery funded ‘Ecclesfield Civil Parish Past and Present Archiving Project’ is progressing well. Christine Handley writes that volunteers have completed six interviews so far and have more to conduct in autumn. Group interviews have been found to work well in gaining a sense of how the local area has changed, ascertaining locations of old shops, pubs, farms, chapels etc. who owned them, cost of goods and anecdotes about living there. During this work lessons have been learnt about interviewing, interview content, recording and transcribing that have provided a solid foundation for the project. A booklet is planned as an output. http://www.archiveproject.ecclesfield-pc.gov.uk/
Michelle Winslow, Sam Smith. Regional Networker Representatives
Liberal Judaism, Rainbow Pilgrims project
21 Maple Street, The Montagu Centre, London, W1T 4BE
Details of Volunteer Post:
Volunteer Duties: Volunteers wanted to conduct oral history interviews, and transcribe and edit results (transcription summary with verbatim quotes only).
Rainbow Pilgrims is a landmark project that discovers the hidden history of LGBTQI migrants in the UK past and present. This initiative explores the interconnection between faith, sexuality, gender and ethnicity using oral history recording (audio and a/v), photography and other media.
We intend to record and process 30 interviews by the end of summer 2017; for those who’d like to continue we will have a variety of ‘skills-sharing’ opportunities from autumn 2017 in order to create an exhibition, run a symposium and a variety of pop-up events across Britain and finally preparing the collection for deposit at the London Metropolitan Archives.
We are an inclusive project and everyone is welcome.
Full training provided (optional).
Starting: now (12 March 2017) for a minimum of 6 months, flexible hours and time commitment.
Location: London and remote (depends on UK interview location)
Training Opportunities: Oral History Interviewing
Training : Sunday 12 March 2017, 11am-5pm (arrive at 10:30 for registration)
at a Central London venue.
Facilitator: Verusca Calabria (Heritage Consultant, Trustee of the OHS)
The training is designed to suit all levels and is tailormade for this project.
Certificates available on request.
Expenses: Reasonable travel expenses (not accommodation).
Other out-of-pocket expenses
Closing Date of Project: June 2018
A brand new permanent Sheffield Blitz exhibition opens from 18 Feb 2017 at the National Emergency Services Museum in Sheffield featuring artefacts, stories, oral history recordings along with a wealth of images from the collections at Sheffield Libraries and Picture Sheffield.
Venue address: National Emergency Services Museum, Old Police/Fire Station, West Bar, Sheffield, S3 8PT
A project to celebrate the role of South Asian culture in Birmingham’s history and identity has been awarded an HLF grant of £91,700.
The Library of Birmingham, in partnership with the British Library, will present a major exhibition and public programme of events and workshops throughout 2017. The Documenting Histories project coincides with the city’s wider celebration, Utsav, Year of South Asian Culture, marking the UK’s longstanding cultural ties with the Indian subcontinent.
Find out more about this exciting project here.
In recognition of the 70th anniversary of the disbanding of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) in January 2016, Legasee in partnership with oral historian Martyn Cox, and with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, have captured 70 remarkable interviews with men and women who played vital roles in the clandestine operations of WWII.
The interviews, previously recorded on tape, have all been archived and are now freely available to view online in our dedicated Secret war video archive. Additionally, every interview has been deposited at the internationally recognised ‘Archive of Resistance Testimonies’ at the University of Sussex for further study.
During the Second World War, London played a central role to much of the organisation of all clandestine operations. As part of the project, we have created a mobile phone App. It features both video and audio recordings of people who served in the buildings along with facts, photos and documents from the National Archives. Featuring geo-location it enables the public to learn about the “secret war” history of some of the buildings and streets of our capital city.
This App is a free download on both Android and Apple phones. Click here to access: http://apple.co/2dGhGPA
Reflections on the project
A great project with a lot of good press coverage. Met and interviewed some fascinating veterans from a fascinating chapter of British military history. My only regret is that I didn’t start the search ten years ago.
All the interviews can be viewed at: http://www.legasee.org.uk/oursecretwar/the-archive/
For more information about the project please contact Martin Bisiker: firstname.lastname@example.org
We apologise if this has happened to you, we’ve had a glitch in the online system and may have missed some bookings.
Please contact me if you’ve experienced a problem or not received a booking confirmation email within five working days. Or if you’ve had any other issues using the OHS website: Michelle Winslow, Oral History Society Website Coordinator: email@example.com
National Oral History Association of New Zealand
22-23 October 2016
Commodore Airport Hotel
It is 30 years since a group of committed historians formed the National Oral History Association of New Zealand. We think it’s an appropriate time to look back on our history, honour our founders and consider our future. By meeting in Christchurch, we’re also acknowledging the experiences of those affected by the earthquakes of 2011 and 2012, which have been recorded in a number of oral histories – including one by our keynote speaker and founder, Hugo Manson, for the Alexander Turnbull Library. Let’s consider how such life histories connect us to a wider network of whanau, friends and colleagues here and across the Tasman, and internationally.
We welcome papers that explore the idea of sharing, and shared, oral histories. We are interested in the many ways such stories are garnered and disseminated – all the way from the process of selection through to the archiving and future-proofing of the lives we record. We want to address issues of access and reuse. And we need to consider the ways in which rapidly-changing technology affects our work.
NOHANZ invites members, friends, and colleagues to the 2016 Oral History conference in Christchurch, timed to coincide with the city’s Heritage Week. Those interested in presenting at the conference are invited to submit abstracts for consideration by the Conference Committee.
We invite proposals for papers addressing any aspect of the above themes.
Proposals should include:
• Duration (20 minute full paper, or 5 minute project summary)
• Name of author/s, postal and email addresses and phone numbers
• Institution (if relevant)
• Abstract of 200 – 250 words on the proposed presentation
• Brief author biography (no more than 100 words per author)
Please send your proposal to NOHANZ 2016 Conference Committee either at firstname.lastname@example.org OR post to PO Box 3819, Wellington.
Closing date for proposals: Friday 8 April, 2016.
Successful presenters will be notified by Friday 20 May, 2016.
The project aims to help reveal the rich heritage of poetry in East London during 1960-80, primarily by Bengalis, through oral history and collecting community poems. You can get involved by becoming an oral history volunteer or publicity and events volunteer.
Training will be delivered by the Oral History Society and Bancroft Archives.
How to apply:
To Faridha Karim by email: email@example.com
Or phone: 07427 832 361