South Yorkshire 2016


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.

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.’

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:

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.

Michelle Winslow, Sam Smith. Regional Networker Representatives

This guide is for people who record oral history interviews, and organisations and individuals who keep collections of oral history recordings in the four nations of the United Kingdom. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland comprise the UK and amongst them have three legal systems. However so far as the law is referred to in this document it is safe to assume that all come within the wider context of UK and European law. The Oral History Society promotes the use of oral history techniques to record the memories of those whose life stories would otherwise be lost to future generations, and encourages researchers and teachers to make use of oral history in their work.

It is essential that interviewees should have confidence and trust in interviewers, and that recordings should be available for research and other use within a legal and ethical framework which protects the interests of interviewees. The following information and guidelines are aimed at ensuring that these objectives are achieved.

Anyone involved with the creation and preservation of oral history interviews should take steps to safeguard their reputation for trustworthiness. This means ensuring that what they do is within the various UK and European laws that apply to oral history and that they have not been acting illegally. Oral historians generally speaking have a good reputation in this respect. This guidance is therefore offered as reassurance and advice to both interviewers and interviewees.

The Oral History Society believes that, while oral history work must comply with the law, legal requirements alone do not provide an adequate framework for good practice. No UK law was designed specifically to regulate oral history work; in fact no law even mentions it. Beyond legal considerations we have long held the view that oral historians should abide by a voluntary set of ethical guidelines.

For these reasons this guide covers responsibilities and obligations beyond legal requirements. Members of the Oral History Society, including those who are custodians, archivists and librarians, have agreed to abide by these guidelines.

The guidance reflects the workflow of a typical oral history interview. Much of the legal and technical detail is available not within the main guidance text but via hypertext links so that the key steps and terms can be understood and followed. There are also links to sample documents and resources.