Strategic Plan 2019-2021


You can read the Strategic Plan 2019-2021 below or download it as a pdf here.



Closing soon, please tell us your views – OHS Membership Consultation for Strategic Review 2018-2021


The OHS Membership Consultation closes on Sunday 4th March. We welcome your views, please read below for details.

The OHS has begun a process of review of the organisation and we are thinking about our plans over the next three years. We wish to ensure that we are spending within our budget, meeting our priorities, considering more effective ways of communicating with members and ensuring a diverse involvement at all levels of the organisation. Your feedback is greatly appreciated.

Please fill out the questionnaire below, or click here to download as a pdf and return to by Sunday 4th March 2018.


The aims and objectives of the OHS, as stated in its Constitution, are:
- To further the methods and encourage participation in the practice of oral history in all appropriate fields.
- To encourage the discussion of methodology, technical issues, problems and all relevant matters by the publication of a journal, and by the organisation of conferences, training, meetings, a regional network and other relevant activities.
We welcome your views on these objectives and whether anything should be changed or added.

Are there any changes/additions you would like to see considered?

We also welcome your views on which activities should take priority in achieving our objectives over the next three years. A summary of the Society’s current activities is set out at When you have had chance to consider this, we would ask you to answer the questions below, and to add any other comments of your own.

What in your opinion should be the top five priorities for the OHS over the next three years, in order of importance? Please feel free to include ideas of your own as well as drawing on the list of current activities.

What in your view should take the lowest priority over the next five years? Is there anything that could/should be dispensed with altogether?


Membership of the OHS has been declining since 2013. There is also an imperative to ensure greater diversity within the OHS membership. Membership subscriptions are a vital income stream and if the decline continues or does not grow substantially, it could signify the end of the Oral History Society unless there are other options. Please let us know your thoughts on these or any other membership issue.

In your view, given the increased number of oral history projects since 2000, why has membership of the Oral History Society not increased?

In your view, what does the Oral History Society need to do to increase its membership base?

As well as increasing membership, are there other services that you would like the Oral History Society to develop?

The Society would like to increase the diversity of its members in terms of ethnicity, culture and belief, gender and sexuality, age and social status. In your view, what does the Oral History Society need to do to achieve this aim?

Do you think the Oral History Society should remain a membership organisation? If yes, why? If not, why not?

If the Oral History Society was not a membership organisation, what alternative methods could be explored to raise funds?


Aims and Objectives (see extract from Constitution above p1).


Oral history has been successful in enabling people who have been ‘hidden from history’ to have their voices heard. Groups engaging in oral history across the UK are demonstrably diverse. However, this diversity might be better represented in OHS membership and its Trustees.

How can the OHS increase the diversity of its members in terms of ethnicity, culture and belief, gender and sexuality, age and social status?


OHS communication on oral history issues and activity takes place via the journal, website, social media, regional network, conferences, seminars, and Special Interest Groups (SIGs).

Is OHS communication up to date and technologically relevant to diverse oral history practitioners in the UK?

How can the OHS meaningfully use technologically to encourage interconnection and discussion amongst diverse practitioners?


The OHS needs to ensure that its financial resources are sustainable in the future. How can we do this?

In your view, is charging for membership key in ensuring that the OHS’s financial resources are sustainable?

Is charging for services against the OHS principles of being open to all?

How can the Society engage its membership and other interested parties in discussing and contributing to the real costs of carrying out oral history (ie how much/how many of the OHS services are members and others prepared to pay for, and how much should be free in the spirit of what oral history is?)

The Oral History Society is running, co-ordinating and partnering in a large number of activities including advice, training, advocacy, publishing, events and engagement with subject specialist groups. As part of the strategic review the Trustees recognise we need to reflect on the OHS governance structures to ensure that the organisation is efficient, effective, accountable and transparent in how we direct and manage our resources - both financial and human. The following questions will help address these issues. Please tick the response that best represents your opinion. If you have other comments outside these questions that you wish to share, please don't hesitate to provide them.

"I have sufficient information about the structure and governance of the Oral History Society." Do you? (Please click to select)

If you answered "Disagree" or "Strongly Disagree": What information do we need to provide?

If you answered "Agree" or "Strongly Agree": What do we do well; what could we do better?

"If I wished to contact the Oral History Society to ask how it is run…" (Please click to select)

If you wish to expand on your answer, please do so here:

Overall comments, not necessarily related to above themes. Please feel free to tell us anything about the Society.

We will be holding a strategy discussion meeting in London on 16th/17th March for Trustees and are hoping to invite a number of you from the wider membership to attend and add your perspective to our discussions. If you are interested in coming, please provide your name and contact email below and explain briefly why you would like to attend.

Name (optional)

Email (optional)

Why I'd like to attend (optional)


Map of LGBTQ Oral Histories launched


Oral history is one of the most exciting methods for recording, preserving, and celebrating the lives and experiences of LGBTQ people. For several decades numerous projects have sought to record the lives of our queer forbears. Many of these important collections, however, remain uncatalogued or held in in places unknown to most researchers. The map of LGBTQ Oral Histories is a crowd-sourced initiative sponsored by the OHS LGBTQ Special Interest Group and the Queer Beyond London research project that seeks to identify, locate and map these important collections so that students, researchers and community members may have fuller access to our past.

You can access the map here or use the interactive box below. 


Are you a PhD student using oral history?


Questionnaire for PhD Students using oral history


The OHS Higher Education group is exploring ways of supporting PhD students and their supervisors. As part of this process, we are conducting a survey to find out about students’ experiences of supervision. If you are using oral history in your doctoral research, please help us by filling out our questionnaire:

Are you using oral history in your PhD research?

At which University are you registered? (optional)

In which department are you based? (optional)

In which year of your doctoral studies are you? 1234+

How many supervisors do you have?

Does either your first or second supervisor have experience of using oral history in their own research?

Had you had any experience of using oral history before beginning your doctoral research?

Have you attended any courses or training on aspects of oral history? If yes, could you describe these, please?

Were they helpful or not? How?

If you have discussed your team of examiners with your supervisor(s), is it planned that one of these should be an oral historian?

How happy are you with the overall PhD supervision you have received so far?

How happy are you with the PhD supervision specifically related to oral history that you have received so far?

Is there anything that you found particularly helpful that you would recommend to other students and supervisors?

What, if anything, could be improved in the supervision you have received so far?

Is there any area of oral history research in which you would like to receive teaching/training?

Is there any else you would like to mention in relation to your PhD supervision?


Event: The Voice of the Artist. 10 December 2016

10th December 2016 9.45-6.00pm.

Kenneth Clark Lecture Theatre, The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN

For more than twenty-five years, Artists’ Lives has been capturing the lives of artists through their own words. This unique project documents artists’ words, and the recollections of those surrounding them, in the context of their lives. Capturing social history as well as art history, each recording begins with the speaker’s childhood. Collectively the recordings are an extraordinary tapestry of corroborative and conflicting perspectives on the visual arts in Britain, spanning the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

This one-day conference explores the importance, relevance and complications of the life story approach. In panels dedicated to speaking, listening and interpreting, The Voice of the Artist brings together artists, their interlocutors, experts in creating oral history archives, and users of the rich research material. By paying attention to speaking, listening and hearing, the role of oral history in shaping different approaches to writing the history of art will be discussed and contested.

Artists’ Lives is run by National Life Stories at the British Library in association with Tate. The Henry Moore Foundation, The Henry Moore Institute and the Yale Center for British Art have been closely involved with the project since its inception.

The conference coincides with the exhibition Artists’ Lives: Speaking of the Kasmin Gallery at Tate Britain, November 28 2016 – 2017.

At 6.30pm, on 9 December, at Tate Britain, Sir Nicholas Serota will be in conversation with Kasmin, chaired by Fiona MacCarthy.

This conference organised by the National Life Stories at the British Library, Tate, Henry Moore Institute and The Courtauld Institute of Art)

£16 general admission / £11 students and concessions

For more information and online booking (opening soon), please see the following link:

Contemporary Political History in a Digital Age

Following the very successful ‘Oral History and the Study of Contemporary Politics’ event at the British Library in November 2015, the third event in the ‘Rethinking Contemporary British History’ series is taking place on Thursday, February 11, 2016 – 1:30pm at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The event, hosted in partnership between the Mile End Institute at Queen Mary University of London and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Historians, forms part of a wider programme of activity focused on early-career scholars on the theme of Rethinking Contemporary British Political History, which is funded by a British Academy’s Rising Star Engagement Award held by Dr Helen McCarthy at Queen Mary University of London.

The transformation of politics in the era of the internet is a subject of endless debate and discussion, but what are its implications for political history and historians? How does the current ‘digital revolution’ compare to technological change in earlier periods, from the birth of radio and television to the arrival of the fax machine and photocopier? How are digital technologies changing the methodological and conceptual terrain of political history? And how should we preserve and analyse ‘born-digital’ sources, from central government emails to activist tweets? In short, if digital technologies have changed politics in our time, how are they changing political history?

This event will bring early-career and more established historians together with archivists, policymakers and digital specialists to consider these and other questions about the relationship between politics, digital technologies and the writing of history.

Further details can be found at the following link: