‘Oral History of Oral History’ interviews now online via British Library Sounds

 

We are delighted to announce that the first batch of life story interviews as part of our long-running ‘Oral History of Oral History’ project are now available online via British Library Sounds at http://sounds.bl.uk/Oral-history/Oral-historians.

The British Library-funded programme of interviews started in 2003 with the aim of recording the pioneers and leaders of oral history in the UK dating from the 1950s onwards. Whilst work undertaken at the University of Essex in the 1960s is often seen as the beginning of the modern movement in the UK, recordings were being made in Scotland as far back as the 1930s on cylinders, and later wire recorders. Recordings were also being made on the Isle of Man, at Leeds University, and in Wales capturing folklore and fast disappearing dialects and languages. In England George Ewart Evans ploughed a lonely furrow in East Anglia in the 1950s and 1960s recording farm labourer families using open reel recorders borrowed from BBC Norwich. At the BBC, Charles Parker was breaking the mould of radio programme-making with the ‘Radio Ballads’. The ‘Oral History Journal’ was founded in 1969, followed by the Oral History Society in 1973. From these early developments there was an explosion of oral history activity in Britain in the 1970s and 1980s, much of it community-based. Graham Smith’s The Making of Oral History is a useful introduction to the history of the discipline.