A guide to oral history for schools and youth groups
Costs and Funding
It is possible to do an oral history project with no budget. You may be able to borrow equipment (try your local college or university, archives, museum or local history society – many of these places have digital recorders which they are happy to loan out). If you can’t afford an external trainer, have a look at our training ideas. However, most projects do incur some costs which we have listed below.
This is best done by someone with oral history experience rather than a local journalist or college media department, as oral history’s patient methods of helping people to remember the past go against the instincts of those who’ve had media training which taught them to elicit good sound-bites in a short time. Contact one of the Oral History Society’s Regional Networkers to ask advice on the amount of training you may need and the likely costs.
You may want to bring in a film maker or media company to help train students in aspects of film making, digital story telling or podcasting. You may want to pay a professional to write a script, or undertake audio or video editing.
Your pupils will be capable of transcribing short extracts from an interview and will learn a lot about the spoken word in the process. But if you are creating multiple interviews and want transcriptions of them all, we recommend using a professional transcriber. (The average person takes 8 hours to transcribe a one hour recording).
Factor in any travel costs, either to get your students to your interviewees, or to offer expenses to your interviewees to travel to your setting. You may also want to organise trips to places relevant to the project or to the local archives.
Bear in mind that organising an oral history project is very time consuming and you may want to bring in cover for you or other teachers involved in the project. You may want to have a paid project organiser.
Depending on what you plan to do with your oral history material, you will need to consider the costs of creating your outcomes. Have a look at our inspiring ideas section, where students have created podcasts, websites, aps, DVDs, productions, dance displays, exhibitions and booklets.
You may want a launch or final event which may generate costs such as food and drink.
Sources of funding
- Have a look at the general funding advice on this website. There is a long list of possible grants.
- The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) gives grants to many community oral history projects or projects with an oral history element. If a community group asks you to be a partner in an HLF-funded project, it will save you the time spent on making an application and should cover all the costs. Schools and youth groups can also make direct applications to the HLF: https://www.hlf.org.uk/looking-funding/our-grant-programmes and https://www.hlf.org.uk/oral-history
- The Big Lottery Fund distributes funds to all sorts of community projects including those that promote intergenerational work and empower young people. One example is Awards for All (£300 to 10k).
- Local charities and local councils often have small pots of community funding available to local schools and youth groups.
- Many local supermarkets have charity token schemes which will support a local project, for example: Waitrose Community Matters, Tesco Bags of Help, Co-op community fund and the Asda green token scheme.
- The Armed Forces Covenant; Local Grants is a fund to help the integration of armed forces and civilian communities and has provided funds to schools for projects involving interviewing veterans and currently serving members of the armed forces.