Oral history operates within a context of informed consent which can be said to have been given if it is based upon a clear appreciation and understanding of the facts, implications, and future consequences of an action. In order to give informed consent, the individual concerned must have adequate reasoning faculties and be in possession of all relevant facts at the time consent is given. Impairments to reasoning and judgment which may make it impossible for someone to give informed consent include such factors as basic intellectual or emotional immaturity, severe learning disability, severe mental illness, intoxication, severe sleep deprivation, dementia, or being in a coma.
Oral historians need to focus not merely on gaining informed consent to enable the recording to begin, but should also inform participants about how the recording will be stored, preserved and used in the long-term, and how confidentiality, where promised, will be maintained. To ensure that consent is informed, consent must be freely given with sufficient information provided on all aspects of participation and data use and reuse. There must be active communication between the parties. Consent must never be inferred from a non-response to a communication such as a letter.
It is important to recognise that this notion of ‘informed consent’ that has underpinned oral history ethical best practice (and much other research) is different from the GDPR definition of the term ‘consent’. Interviewees still need to be fully ‘informed’ about, agree to, and be able to withdraw from the process which they are participating in. This can be achieved by using a pre-interview participation agreement.
Consent is only one of the legal bases available under GDPR to legitimise the processing of personal data, such as the making, storage and use of an oral history interview. You should be certain of your legal basis before beginning the interview, and the interviewee should be informed of the basis on which the recording is being made. Note that the legal basis that you choose to use determines which of the individual’s rights and which exemptions may apply to the activity.
You should also be aware that, when relying on consent for the publication or dissemination of an archive recording, you will also need the consent of every person who is identifiable from the interview, not just the interviewee, and this may be prohibitively difficult.
If you do choose to use consent as your legal basis, one of the key changes under GDPR is that consent to the use of personal data must be active (no pre-ticked boxes), clear, affirmative and distinguishable from other matters, and provided in an intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. Consent needs to cover both the holding of personal data and its further processing (use).
OHS advice therefore (drawing on British Library policy) is that for the processing of personal data for archival purposes a data controller should normally rely on the legal basis of ‘the performance of a task carried out in the public interest’ where legally able to do so, or on ‘legitimate interests’ where they are not. The processing of Special Category Data (previously called ‘sensitive personal data’: see below) requires an additional legal basis. For the processing of Special Category Data for archival purposes, a Data Controller should rely on Section 4(a) of Schedule 1 of the Data Protection Act 2018 – ‘necessary for archiving purposes… in the public interest’.
One of the characteristics of consent under GDPR is that it can be withdrawn at any time. If consent is withdrawn then you cannot substitute another legal basis to continue processing that data. This is why it is advisable to use one of the other legal bases other than consent when creating material for a permanent historic archive, hence the OHS recommendation above.
University ethics committee vary in their practice but each is likely to have a code of practice which will indicate what ethical standards are required. An example of a flowchart which shows the stages to obtaining ethical review at a higher education institution is here. At a basic level, projects are likely to be expected to produce their research plan including a rationale, together with examples of consent forms or recording agreements, as well as information sheets. They are also likely to indicate awareness of such issues as risk assessment, deposit agreements and an indication that in carrying out the work the contribution of others and use of relevant source materials is acknowledged. An example of a REC application form (from Royal Holloway, University of London) is here.
The UK Data Archive has produced helpful guidance for researchers when approaching and working with RECS here.
Post Description: Tape Letters: Invitation to tender for Project Co-ordination work
Modus Arts is seeking a Project Coordinator for the Tape Letters project which sets to unearth, archive and re/present to the public a portrait of the cultural heritage of Pakistani immigrants who settled in Britain between 1960-1980 commenting on their experiences of migration and identity as revealed through their use of audio cassette tapes as a mode of long-distance communication.
Drawing directly both from first-hand interviews and from the informal and intimate conversations on the cassettes themselves, the project seeks to shine light on this unorthodox method of communication, commenting on individual experiences of migration and identity, commenting on the unusual use of cassette tape technology, and commenting on the languages used in the recordings.
Contract Project Coordinator – freelance contract. 43 days at £200 a day: £8,600. National travel expenses paid. Contractor must be self-employed.
Purpose Coordination of volunteer and freelance staff. Managing (with the Project Manager) the collection of the Tape Letters archive.
Timeframe October 2019 – October 2020. Average of 1 day per week spent on the project.
- Recruiting community engagement officers in three areas of the UK (London, Manchester, Midlands)
- Supervising the work of three community engagement officers. Holding monthly supervision sessions with each officer.
- Overseeing the recruitment and induction of 12 volunteers
- Coordinating the community call out and project publicity
- Supporting community engagement officers to deliver 5 reminiscence events with community groups/members
- Supervise the collection of ‘tape letters’ cassettes and the recording of interviews for the Tape Letters archive – working closely with the Project Manager.
- Scheduling training sessions for volunteers and community engagement officers.
- Collect records of project activities for publicity and monitoring, including evaluating volunteer engagement and learning.
- Demonstrable experience of supervising staff and volunteers in community settings
- Demonstrable experience planning and delivering project outcomes.
- Experience of participatory facilitation of meetings, events and trainings.
- Excellent spoken and written communication skills
- Ability to collect highly personal archive material with sensitivity and tact and maintain confidentiality at all times.
- Ability to work co-operatively with other members of the project team.
- Willing to travel nationally on a regular basis.
- Good working knowledge of basic IT software (Word, Excel, Google Drive).
- Ability to be administratively self-sufficient.
- Experience of oral history or community heritage project management.
- Experience of community-based archive collection.
- Experience of working with audio: recording, editing and archiving.
- Ability to speak Urdu and/or other dialects spoken in Pakistan/ amongst Pakistani diaspora (i.e. Potwari).
- Knowledge of the British-Pakistani community.
To apply please send us a CV and answers to the following questions, referring to the role description and person specification above.
Closing date: 10 am on Thursday 19 September 2019.
* Tell us why you are interested in this role. (200 words or less)
* Describe your past experience supervising and supporting staff and volunteers in community projects/organisations (500 words or less)
* Explain how your skills and experience will help you to achieve the deliverables we list in the role description. (800 words or less).
Interviews will take place on the 3rd and 4th of October 2019.
Post Location: Co-ordinator could be based in or near to one of the three areas covered: London / Birmingham / Manchester
Post Duration: 12 months
Post Hours: average of 7 per week
Salary:£8,600 per anum pro rata
Post Description: To deliver an exciting project which will research and celebrate the history of Avenue St Andrew’s United Reformed Church as a church which helps others. Please go to this link for further information: Heritage project manager for Avenue 2020 project – job description
Responsible to: Avenue 2020 project team.
Further information: The successful applicant will hold a degree.
The Avenue St Andrew’s Archives Room is on the first floor and accessible only by a flight of stairs.
The post is funded by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
To find out more contact the Avenue St Andrew’s church office (10am-2pm, Mon, Wed-Fri) on 02380 678787 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Applications must be in before 6 September 2019, 12 midday.
Post Location: Avenue St Andrew’s URC, The Avenue, Southampton SO17 1XQ
Post Duration: 10 months fixed term contract starting early October 2019
Post Hours: Working flexibly with an average of 65 hours/month per week
Salary: £28,800 fixed contract fee to include any VAT and expenses
‘Surroundings’ is an artwork initiated, devised, created and delivered by Ivan Riches, a 360° image projection with a voice soundscape compiled of participant’s experience of their relationships to their surroundings, from locations in Southwark London, North Devon and Bavaria Germany. One version of this artwork is for delivery as an installation with musicians creating a live supporting accompaniment in a gallery setting. The other version of the artwork is without live music, available for wider public viewing on YouTube for smartphones, tablets, 360° headsets and computer scrolling.
There were 2 live installations/performances of improvised music/soundscapes with projected imagery, in direct response to recorded interviews, rich in feeling & intensity, creating live immersive experiences where the audience is surrounded by voices, sound textures & images.
‘Surroundings 360° (3 locations)’ Artwork by Ivan Riches 2019
This artwork part of the ‘Surroundings Project’ consists of voices recorded from interviews in Southwark London, North Devon & locations in Bavaria Germany, alongside mixed media imagery in 360° format. The Plough Arts Centre 26th June 2019
Musicians for the live installation/performance:
Zack De Santos
Read Colin Hambrook’s article ‘Surroundings – a journey into the known’ at Disability Arts Online:
‘Surroundings: Stories of Home’ with transcripts of the Southwark London interviews is available at: https://disabilityarts.online/magazine/opinion/ivan-riches-surroundings-a-meaningful-evocation-of-the-human-spirit/
Read more about the project and its development via Ivan’s blogs at Disability Arts Online:
Surroundings Blog No 1
Surroundings Blog No 2
Surroundings Blog No 3
Surroundings Blog No 4
Surroundings Blog No 5
Surroundings Blog No 6
Thank you to:
The project participants for contributing their voices
Partners and Sponsors:
South London Gallery
Plough Art Centre
Dr Jürgen Müller-Hohagen
Disability Arts Online
And Thank you to:
Fran Stanley for help and support
Willem Riches for help and support and some extra photography in Rosenheim Germany
Simon Puris for filming at the South London Gallery
All Visual Artwork & Film Coypright (C) Ivan Riches 2019
All Music Coypright (C) Ivan Riches 2019
Got an idea for sharing oral histories in the public domain? Apply for the NLS Goodison Fellowship to help fund it!
National Life Stories, the oral history charitable trust based at the British Library, is pleased to announce that applications are now open for the National Life Stories Goodison Fellowship 2020-21. The aim of the Fellowship is to increase public knowledge and awareness of oral history, particularly of the National Life Stories collections. The award of £5,000 is open anyone resident in the United Kingdom who wishes to use the National Life Stories oral history collections to reflect on life stories and memory, and share the results of their research in the public domain. Past Fellows have used the award to stage an exhibition, write a play script, research a book, write scholarly, online and journal articles and produce a series of radio programmes.
Applicants can draw on any of the NLS collections, but proposals using material from one or more of the following collections will be particularly welcomed:
Crafts Lives – over 160 life story interviews with British studio crafts makers recorded over the past 20 years
Architects’ Lives – over 150 recordings with pioneering UK architects recorded since 1989
An Oral History of Theatre Design – 30 interviews with prominent theatre designers.
The National Life Stories Goodison Fellowship provides the recipient the time and space to listen in depth to oral history material from across the collections. The award holder will become the Goodison Fellow for a period of three to nine months, subject to agreement with the Awarding Panel. The Fellowship must commence in the period 1 February 2020 – 1 November 2020.
For more information and application details visit https://www.bl.uk/nls/
The closing date for applications is midnight on Monday 28 October 2019.
Post Duration: 3-9 months(months)