Call for Participation: History From Elsewhere

History From Elsewhere: The Use of Archives and Recollection of Memory

Digital platforms have become a popular mode for community organisations and individuals from minority backgrounds to use their version of events and history to recollect memory and reimagine their heritage. Equally, heritage organisations are broadening their collections to meet the needs of a wide range of communities in order to promote an inclusive heritage. Yet such platforms also bring out new challenges and questions – Does the separation of space between the community organisations/individuals and heritage organisations reinforce marginalisation of minority history? And given the diversity that exists within the communities in Britain, what kinds of framework are being employed by heritage organisations to ensure that their collections are truly representative and democratic? This Symposium aims to explore the possibilities and also the pitfalls of using local and national archives in recollection of memory by minority and marginalised communities.

Call for Participation

The London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) will be holding a symposium to provide a platform to discuss a ‘history from below’ approach in recollecting memory. The aim is to explore ways that can make engagement with archive institutions more inclusive, democratic and ethical. We are looking for participants to engage with LMA collections related to minority communities/ invisible voices; and submission of papers from Post-graduate students, academics and heritage practitioners, related to archives and minority community history and/or history of marginalised sections of communities in Britain.

In the past three decades there has been a debate between the postmodern cultural theorists and the heritage sector over the power held by archives as institutions. Archives are seen as not only being able to wield power over the shape and direction of historical scholarship, collective memory, and national identity but also over how we know ourselves as individuals, groups and societies. The introduction of digital discovery tools and mass digitisation and online delivery of contents has provided the platform to democratise the experience and interpretation of heritage collections, however the inclusion of minority heritage and the accommodation of minority conception of national heritage requires further exploration. The post-colonial heritage theory suggests that individuals belonging to a national community have different experiences to the same past and do not share an identical memory related to the same spaces, places and events and therefore conceive their heritage through multiple frames of reference. The symposium therefore aims to explore the way archives are accommodating the multiple frames of conception of the past and also discuss the challenges in making archives more accessible, engaging and inclusive.

The Symposium will take place on 18 September 2015 at The London Metropolitan Archives.


Recollection of memory in shaping Identity and sense of belonging

Our Collections:

We have collections related to various communities whose voices are often missing from the national narratives. These collections include materials that were deposited by community members and organisations which include materials related to civil rights and human rights activists, oral history and publications. We also have collections from government bodies such as Greater London Authority and from the media related to campaigns and activism, workers’ rights, and minority communities.

How to Apply:

The symposium is seeking participants to:

1.Engage with LMA collections and share their reflections in how using LMA archives can recollect/reinvent community memories. To apply please email an ‘Expression of interest in participation’ explaining why you would like to get involved and which collection you would like to explore.

Please email:

(A document viewing event will be organised to explore the materials based on the interest expressed) For more information about our collections please visit our online catalogue via the link below.

Below are some examples of collections held at LMA:

a.Chinese Oral History project

b.Paul Robeson

c.Holloway women’s prison

d.Jessica and Eric Huntley collection

e.Limehouse oral history project

2.Postgraduate students of heritage/history, heritage practitioners and academics to present their paper in promoting minority history through archives/ role of archives in promoting ‘history from below’.

We are inviting paper suggestions of 300 words for 20 minute presentations.

At the symposium the participants will be given 20 minutes to present their research. The symposium will include a panel from various archival and cultural organisations.

Deadline for submission: June 12 2015

Contact the list owner for assistance at ARCHIVES-NRA-request@JISCMAIL.AC.UK

For information about joining, leaving and suspending mail (e.g. during a holiday) see the list website at

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USD School of Law Announces Release of ‘Judicial Voices Project’ Website

Oral Histories from South Dakota’s Highest Bench

The University of South Dakota School of Law and the South Dakota Supreme Court have created a website that provides written histories and video-recorded oral accounts of the state’s highest court.

The site,, entitled “Judicial Voices Project: Capturing Histories of the South Dakota Supreme Court on its 125th Anniversary,” includes the most comprehensive research on the court ever done as well as a collections of video interviews with current justices, some retirees and others familiar with the Supreme Court.

The effort was the product of conversations between Chief Justice David Gilbertson, the court’s historian, and John Glover, recent Bush Foundation Fellow and long-standing professor at Black Hills State University, who was at the time associate dean of the University of South Dakota School of Law.

“Similar approaches have taken place with other courts, although such recorded oral histories are far less frequently occurring than one might expect,” Glover said. “As the Chief Justice pointed out, the most notable example of such interviews involved the U.S. Supreme Court in a project through C-SPAN. Additional examples can be found involving the courts in a half a dozen states including California, Kentucky, New York, New Hampshire, Texas and regional neighbor Minnesota.”

Judicial Voices was initiated by a seed grant awarded by the South Dakota Humanities Council in the spring of 2014. Additional support and funding came from the USD School of Law and Dean Tom Geu, the Unified Judicial System, the South Dakota Bar Association and the Woods, Fuller, Schultz & Smith law firm in Sioux Falls. South Dakota Public Broadcasting provided technical assistance. The project team was managed by Native Educational Endeavors Inc., directed by Glover and included Chief Justice Gilbertson, Dean Geu, Richard Gregerson, Web specialists Beth Aaker and Annie Woodle, editors Prairey Walkling and recent USD law graduate and attorney Kelsea Kenzy Sutton, and videographer Shane Artz.

Questions, comments and additions can be sent to Glover at or (605) 580-0941 (605) 580-0941.

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

A Google for Oral History Recordings

It sounds like something you might find on the Starship Enterprise but the oral history metadata synchroniser (OHMS) could transform the way oral history collections are accessed worldwide.

OHMS is the brainchild of Doug Boyd, director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky, who first began to think about broadening access to oral history interviews while he was an archivist at the University of Alabama. When he moved to Kentucky he got together with the head of the university’s digital programme and together they came up with OHMS.

The programme enables researchers to search through an oral history recording using keywords, and to be taken to the exact moment that the keyword is spoken. It means researchers do not have to scroll through hours of tape or pages of transcript before finding the topic they are interested in.

Boyd, who will be leading a workshop on OHMS at this year’s Oral History Society conference, says: “We have always talked a good game about oral history putting the stories on historical record but the reality was recordings sat on shelves and did not get used very often. We took the web usability approach and figured out a way to enhance access to oral history.”

Boyd says that OHMS has increased access to his archive of about 9000 interviews. The archive was lucky if 500 people visited it every year but since the OHMS was launched in 2008 around 8-10,000 people access interviews every month. “If you put the interviews out there people will use them,” says Boyd.

Originally, OHMS was designed for in-house use but Boyd and his team realised its potential for other institutions. With a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services the Nunn Center developed an open access, open source system that could be used by any oral history archive around the world. OHMS was launched to grant partners in 2013, before its official launch in 2014. Now 100 institutions in 10 countries are using it.

OHMS is free to use and should be accessible to the majority of oral history organisations. All that is needed is a website and a server and it works with the majority of content management systems. Boyd believes that it will help oral history move away from reliance on transcripts, which are expensive to produce and discourage interaction with the audio.

With OHMS the oral historian creates an index of keywords, which are tagged alongside the recording. The index can also include GPS coordinates and hyperlinks to enhance and broaden the experience. Boyd’s dream is to link all the institutions and organisations using OHMS together – a kind of Google for oral history recordings – so that a researcher can search for a term such as gay rights, and be taken to all the recordings around the world where this term is used.

But while Boyd is an enthusiastic user of technology his sole interest is in how it can enhance the practice of oral history.

“Oral history is this interaction between two people, or an interviewer and a group of interviewees. It’s a dialogue. It requires thoughtful questions and background research. We have to find the balance between where technology is most useful and where it is a hindrance,” he says.

Doug Boyd is one of the keynotes speakers at this year’s Oral History Society annual conference, where he will be talking about the use of technology in oral history. He will also be leading a workshop on OHMS. For more information and to book please go to the link below.

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