Spooks Spies and Videotape


Project summary

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The interviews, previously recorded on tape, have all been archived and are now freely available to view online in our dedicated Secret war video archive.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: martin@legasee.org.uk



Have you made an OHS training booking recently and not received a response?


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: m.winslow@sheffield.ac.uk


Call for papers. Tell Me More: Sharing our Stories. New Zealand, 22-23 October 2016

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:
• Title
• 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 nohanzconf2016@gmail.com 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.


Shanghati Oral History Project (London)


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: faridha.karim@shanghatioralhistory.com

Or phone: 07427 832 361 


Now online – National Directory of UK Sound Collections

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.

IHR/OHS seminar. Approaching gendered reading through two archives. Amy Tooth Murphy, Shelley Trower

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.

Click here for more information.

Oral history project sheds new light on the story of the Commonwealth

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/

OHS launches special interest groups for members

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.



Significant local history collections to merge

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.

Call for papers: Urban History 2016

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 richard.rodger@ed.ac.uk 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

Email: rebecca.madgin@glasgow.ac.uk


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

Email: jgreenhalgh@lincoln.ac.uk

Website: http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/urbanhistory/uhg


More information about this article can be found at: this link.

Call for papers: Crossing Borders, Crossing Boundaries. Ottawa, Canada

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 smh2015montgomery@gmail.com

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.