Oral History Project Facilitator (Bolton)

The Facilitator will lead bi-monthly meetings with the group to check progress and advise on any queries volunteers may have about interviewing, archiving, or transcription of recordings.

The Woodland Trust at Smithills Estate invites expressions of interest from freelance oral historians for the below opportunity. We are looking for an oral historian with experience of working with community groups to guide our volunteers as they begin to gather oral histories of our Estate. The volunteer group have been trained in oral history interviewing by OHS, and the Facilitator will be working with them to schedule interviews, ensure interviews have the correct permissions, and to help create a sound archive on SoundCloud.

We will require the Facilitator to be able to travel to Bolton for six meetings throughout 2020, and to give 10 days’ time (cumulatively) to planning/communication across the year. The Facilitator will be guided by the Smithills Estate’s Engaging Communities Officer, who leads the volunteer programme.

Post Location: Home, and Smithills Hall in Bolton.
Post Duration: 12 months
Post Hours: 2 per week
Salary:£2000 fee for all work
Application Closing Date: 31 October 2019

Contact Telephone: 0330 333 5314
Contact Email: vickyentwistle@woodlandtrust.org.uk

Oral History Trainer (up to 3 places)

Oral History Trainer Recruitment 2019

Applications are invited from members of the Oral History Society with the relevant knowledge and experience to become an accredited British Library National Life Stories/Oral History Society trainer. The successful applicant(s) will join the BL/OHS team leading oral history courses around the UK. As demand for oral history training continues to grow, the current training team is seeking experienced trainers to provide training locally and bring new skills to the group.


BL/OHS-accredited oral history trainers are expected to teach at least five to ten one-day workshops per year. The workshops are run in a variety of UK venues and include both programmed courses and courses tailored to the needs of particular clients. All courses are administered by oral history staff from National Life Stories at the British Library. It is our aim to match trainers with a local venue if this is possible, however some workshops may require travel, and evening and weekend work.

From 1 January 2020 payment for the trainer will be £350 per workshop, plus travel expenses, for the programmed courses; and £400 per day for tailored courses plus expenses.

Accredited trainers are members of the OHS-BL Training Liaison Group and are expected to:
– attend the annual OHS-BL Training Liaison Group meeting (part of which will be a trainers’ Continuing Professional Development workshop) at the BL in London (expenses are paid)
– ensure the issue and return of evaluation feedback forms
– teach to an agreed curriculum
– submit an annual report to the OHS Treasurer

The OHS-BL Training Liaison Group is responsible for:
– Setting training fees and remuneration
– Deciding on whether there are vacancies for OHS/BL trainers
– Selecting, appointing and accrediting new trainers based on applicants’ CVs, covering letters, and references
– Designing and reviewing the content of courses to ensure that we are offering up-to-date advice
– Reviewing feedback from participants
– Monitoring the quality of training delivery: reserving the right to withdraw accreditation from individual trainers
– Making recommendations to the Committee of Trustees of the Oral History Society on new course proposals
– Reporting all decisions to the Committee of Trustees of the Oral History Society

Instruction and guidance on the present format and content of the training workshops will be given to the new trainer at an (unpaid, but expenses will be covered) workshop led by members of the current training group. Training materials will be supplied. For more information on the format of existing one-day workshops see the OHS website: www.ohs.org.uk/training/


If you wish to be considered please send a CV (of no more than 2 A4 pages) and a covering statement (of no more than 2 A4 pages), which includes your OHS membership number and shows how you meet the following essential requirements:

– Knowledge of oral history theory and methodology
– Experience of oral history interviewing
– Experience of oral history project management
– Experience of training/teaching (especially in oral history method)
– Knowledge of ethical and legal considerations connected with oral history
– Knowledge and understand of archiving oral history material in a digital environment
– Practical knowledge of digital recording technologies
– Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
– Experience of using audio and possibly video digital editing software

We welcome applications from both all-rounders and those who feel they may be able to offer a particular specialism to the present training programme. Please note that, in addition to the skills outlined above, we are keen to recruit trainers who meet the following desirable criteria:

– With experience of video oral history
– Who are willing to travel
– Who possess a driver’s licence

Please send your CV and covering statement (as PDF documents), together with the names of two referees who would be willing to comment on your oral history work, to: nls@bl.uk by 2pm on Friday 1 November 2019.

Candidates will be notified if they have been invited to an interview by Wednesday 13 November. The interviews will take place at the British Library in London on Wednesday 27 November. The candidates’ travel expenses (excluding overnight stays) will be reimbursed.

Applications will be scored against the job criteria and shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview where they will be asked to make a short presentation.

For more information email nls@bl.uk and your email will be forwarded to the recruitment panel.

I Dig Canals (Dudley)

Volunteer Duties: Attending some of our reminiscence events, and/or help us at public events when we aim to collect stories of women’s involvement in the campaign to save Black Country canals in the 1960s or 1970s.

Training on Tuesday, 17 September, at Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust, Birmingham New Road, Dudley, DY1 4SB

Collect stories at our public events and reminiscence events”:

– Saturday & Sunday, 21-22 September, noon-5pm, at Tipton Canal Festival, Tipton Town Centre, DY4 8HE
– Tuesday, 15 October from 10am-12.30pm, at Tipton Library, Unity Walk, Owen Street, Tipton, DY4 8QL
– Saturday & Sunday, 19-20 October, 10am-5pm, at Bonded Warehouse Open Weekend, Stourbridge, DY8 4LU
– Saturday, 26 October from 2-5pm, at Titford Pumphouse, Engine Street, Oldbury, B69 4NL with Birmingham Canal Navigation Society
– Wednesday, 20 November at 7pm for a 7.30pm start, at the Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust, Birmingham New Road, Dudley, DY1 4SB
Location: Dudley
Training Opportunities: Training on Tuesday, 17 September, at Dudley Canal & Tunnel Trust, Birmingham New Road, Dudley, DY1 4SB

This is a one-day workshop for volunteers who want to be involved with recording for ‘I Dig Canals’. You don’t need any previous experience – the aim of the day is to meet new friends and learn new skills. We will be discussing oral history and its value, having a go with digital recorders, practicing planning and preparing interviews and making some short recordings about people’s canal experiences. Hopefully you will end of the day with the skills and confidence to undertake some of your own interviews at future ‘I Dig Canals’ events.

The day will be run by Julia Letts, an accredited trainer for the Oral History Society.
Expenses: Travel expenses available
Region: West Midlands

Webpage: https://www.facebook.com/alarumtheatre/photos/pcb.10156629551713857/10156629547643857/?type=3&theater

Contact Name: Nadia Stone
Email: idigcanals@alaramtheatre.co.uk

Closing Date of Project: May 2020

‘Surroundings’ – an artwork by Ivan Riches



‘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


Surroundings (1 location)’ Artwork by Ivan Riches 2019
This artwork part of the ‘Surroundings Project’ consists of voices recorded from interviews in Southwark London.
The South London Gallery 24th April 2019


Musicians for the live installation/performance:
Jo-anne Cox
Dee Fry
Ivan Riches 
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
Claudius Vergho
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

National Life Stories Goodison Fellowship 2020-21


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/fellowships

The closing date for applications is midnight on Monday 28 October 2019.

Post Duration: 3-9 months(months)
Salary: £5,000

Discovering the Guildhall (Portsmouth)


Volunteer Duties: Oral History Timed Summary Volunteers and Archive Cataloguing Volunteers Needed!

The Guildhall, Portsmouth has a rich and varied past having housed Portsmouth Police Station and cells, been a civic centre for the city, was bombed during WWII, rebuilt and is now a Grade II listed building. As a music venue it has hosted famous ‘names’ including Ella Fitzgerald, Shirley Bassey, The Who, The Beatles, and so on, and it was the venue Pink Floyd first played Dark Side of the Moon. Politically and socially it has a very interesting history having been visited by Churchill, Moseley, and Christabel Pankhurst to figures such as President Clinton, Princess Diana, Thatcher, and members of the royal family.

The Discovering the Guildhall project focusses on capturing people’s memories of the Guildhall, gathering archive material, cataloguing and digitising these items to create an online resource. We are creating two short documentary films, an exhibition, and have delivered an outreach programme.

Oral History Timed Summary Volunteers:

As part of this project we have been gathering local residents memories through oral history interviews and we are now looking for volunteers to produce timed summaries.

If you have experience that would be helpful, however, we can provide training if not.

Oral history recordings will be emailed to you at home and completed timed summaries sent to the project team so you do not need to travel to the Guildhall.

Archive Cataloguing Volunteers:

As part of this project we have been gathering archive material (e.g. photographs, letters, documents about the rebuilding of the Guildhall after the bombing, concert tickets, programmes etc. ) and have had some items generously donated to us. We now need to catalogue all of the archive material before digitising it and making it available to people online via our website.

Ideally we are looking for one or two volunteers with cataloguing experience which they can bring to the project, as well as volunteers with no previous experience but who are interested in learning.

Organisation: The Guildhall Trust, Portsmouth Guildhall, PO1 2AB

Location: Archiving and oral history interviewing at Portsmouth Guildhall. Summarising interviews at home.
Expenses: Travel and parking expenses

Contact Name: Nicola Peacock
Email Address: nicola.peacock@portsmouthguildhall.org.uk

Closing Date of Project: April 2020

Tallin Tallin – The Story Project


Tallin Tallin is a project that aims to preserve and promote the rich tradition of oral storytelling in The Gambia, West Africa; the evening entertainment that has captured the imaginations of so many generations of adults and children. In addition, it hopes to help address the Western-centric nature of many of the stories available to children in schools in the region. The project is being developed by artist Amy Pitt (www.amypitt.com) alongside WYCE, a charity that has been operating in rural Gambia since 2001 (www.wyce.org.uk).

Over the last few years, the project has travelled 914km across The Gambia, collecting traditional oral stories from 8 ethnic groups. For years, these stories have been passed on from generation to generation as a means of entertainment, to encourage debate and discussion, and to teach important cultural values. However, with younger Gambians increasingly living away from their extended family, and with Western forms of entertainment increasingly encroaching into everyday life, there is a real risk that as the generation that knows these stories passes they will be lost to this rapidly developing country forever.

Tallin Tallin will collate these stories, preserving them as a lively, illustrated book, one of which will be distributed to every primary school in The Gambia, free-of-charge. In doing so, the project intends to create a resource that celebrates local heritage and culture, encourages engagement with literature and storytelling, and has direct relevance to the people of The Gambia. Additionally, the original audio recordings will be made into a digital archive, so that these stories can be downloaded to phones, laptops, and tablets, and be widely engaged with in the format that they have always been shared.

In the long-term, the dream is to create a one-day festival celebrating the cultural tradition of oral storytelling. The festival will take place annually in three locations in The Gambia, and involve local storytellers and musicians.

In early April, a crowdfunder campaign will be launched which aims to raise £6000 in 30 days. This money will be used to:

  • Print 1000 books and ship them to The Gambia
  • Create the digital archive of original recordings and illustrations

If you are interested in finding out more about the project, and to keep up-to-date with the crowdfunder campaign and other updates, then please follow the contact details below:

Online: www.tallintallin.com

Email: amy@tallintallin.com

Facebook: @TallinTallinStoryProject

Instagram: tallin_tallin_story_project

Twitter: @Tallin_Tallin_






The Fieldwork Journals of Eric R. Cregeen (1921-83)


Project summary
Internationally renowned social historian Eric R. Cregeen (1921–83) was one of UK’s prime movers in recording oral history. Rigorously trained by the Irish Folklore Commission in the 1940s (while recording for the Manx Folk-Life Survey), Cregeen settled in Scotland (1954) taking up posts with the University of Glasgow then, in 1966, with Edinburgh University’s School of Scottish Studies. 

Eric R. Cregeen worked tirelessly in the West Highlands and Islands of Scotland, where he recorded the way of life of people who lived off the land and sea.  He catalogued his tapes and deposited them in the Archives of the School of Scottish Studies, until his sudden death in 1983 robbed Scotland of an outstanding oral historian, folklorist and scholar.  Historiographer Royal of Scotland, Professor T. C. Smout described Cregeen as “a social scientist of the highest order… a very fine historian and a very fine anthropologist… far in advance of this time … no one since has put the two disciplines together so effectively to illuminate the life of the Highlands.”

Besides his recordings and published writings, Cregeen’s legacy included over 30 fieldwork notebooks, which remained with his family until 2015 when Mrs Lily Cregeen handed over a box of fieldwork journals to Margaret Bennett (former lecturer at the School of Scottish Studies), a Trustee of the charity Grace Notes Scotland (“dedicated to handing on tradition”). With a grant from Heritage Lottery the journals were digitized, and a team of transcribers typed over 4,000 pages of oral history fieldwork notes.  After the project was completed, Margaret Bennett collaborated with publisher  Gonzalo Mazzei (Grace Note Publications) to produce  9 volumes shown here:  The Cregeen Journals (1939–82). 

A set of the journals has been added to the  Special Collections of the University of Edinburgh, and an on-line database is planned. The University of Glasgow is also incorporating Cregeen’s work into their database DASG (Digital Archive of Scottish Gaelic), and it is hoped that researchers will enjoy further access to the work of this very fine oral historian.

Further enquiries regarding the 9 volume set may be made via info@gracenotescotland.org

Reflections on the project:
Talks and exhibitions were well attended, and local history groups took part in workshops.
To begin with, few people had heard of Cregeen, but some were very excited when they recognised family members among the photos. One young man ‘met’ his grandfather in the journals, photos and recordings, and, considering the grandfather had died before he was born, he was deeply moved to discover the wealth of tradition that Cregeen had recorded from him.  As it happened, a film-maker from BBC Alba also attended, and when he saw the powerful effect of this, he took up the ‘story’ and then made an hour-long documentary film, which has just been completed and telecast on BBC Alba (Feb. 25, available on iplayer).

Other outputs: The project produced 6 exhibitions, starting with an opening exhibition at the National Library of Scotland (Edinburgh) and  a final exhibition in Lochmaddy, North Uist (April 1 to May 30, 2018)

The project also included 10 oral history workshops for schools in the areas where Cregeen worked.

Contact details
Dr G. Mazzei
Grace Note Publications
‘Grange of Locherlour’
Crieff, PH7 4JS

Telephone:01764 655979
Email: info@gracenotescotland.org

Photographs by Gonzalo Mazzei, used with permission.


Call for Papers: Oral History Network of Ireland’s Annual Conference “Oral History in a Digital World”. Limerick City, 28 & 29 June 2019


The Oral History Network of Ireland (OHNI) is pleased to announce its 2019 conference on the theme of “Oral History in a Digital World.” Collecting oral history in digital formats and putting recordings online is increasingly becoming standard practice for oral historians. As such, this conference offers a timely opportunity to consider the possibilities and challenges offered by technological advances and wider accessibility to collections through online platforms. This two-day conference will take place at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick, on Friday, June 28, and Saturday, June 29, 2019.

Continuing OHNI’s tradition of inviting keynote speakers of international renown, we are delighted to welcome to this year’s conference Doug Boyd, Director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at University of Kentucky, past president of the Oral History Association, and manager of Oral History in the Digital Age. Doug is a key innovator in the archiving and dissemination of oral history and leads the team that developed the free, open-source OHMS system which synchronises text with audio and video online. He is the co-editor (with Mary A. Larson) of the book Oral History and Digital Humanities: Voice, Access, and Engagement, published by Palgrave MacMillan in 2014.

Conference contributions are welcome in a range of formats:

  • Standard conference papers (20 minutes)
  • 10-minute presentations for our “Moments” panels, focusing on outstanding or memorable individuals, experiences, and/or incidents that influenced or changed the way the presenter practices oral history
  • Posters and visual presentations

While we welcome proposals on any topic related to oral history, we are particularly interested in proposals that take an imaginative approach to the “Oral History in a Digital World” conference theme. Potential topics could include (but are not limited to):

  • Collecting, archiving, and disseminating digital oral histories
  • Technological possibilities and challenges
  • Methods and techniques
  • From tapes and CDs to digital formats
  • Increasing access and engagement with digital tools
  • Digital oral history in the classroom
  • Social media and oral history
  • Ethical and legal issues of online oral histories
  • Re-using online oral history collections
  • Innovative online projects

To propose a paper, please submit an abstract (of no more than 250 words) along with your name; the name of your group, organisation, or institution; and your email address to info@oralhistorynetworkireland.ie before 5 p.m. Friday, February 22, 2019. All proposals must demonstrate a clear engagement with oral history and/or personal testimony, and we actively encourage the use of audio clips. The conference committee’s decision on successful abstracts will be communicated to potential presenters in March.

Registration for the conference and further information will shortly be posted on the conference page of our website: https://www.oralhistorynetworkireland.ie/conferences/2019-conference/

‘Ships in the Sky’ – an oral history, film and exhibition project


Project summary

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”                 

– Henry David Thoreau, Walden    

‘Ships in the Sky’ is an oral history, film and exhibition project that celebrates the social history of Hull’s former central flagship Co-Operative Society store built after its predecessor was bombed in 1941. The store later became BHS and now lies abandoned in the city centre.

The project also looks at the ‘Three Ships’ mural – a curved concrete 66 x 64 ft screen depicting three stylised trawlers that spell ‘HULL’ in the masts and bears the motto ‘prosper through industry’. Commissioned by the Co-op in 1963 to adorn the front of the building, it comprises 4,224 foot square slabs set with Italian glass tesserae; the spectacular result is a mosaic encompassing 1,061,775 individual cubes that is regarded as the largest mosaic in the UK. The Co-Op’s public art brief was to “unite the community through art” and to “celebrate Hull’s maritime heritage” both statements being at the heart of the ‘Ships in the Sky’ project.

“Growing up in Hull, this unmissable piece of public art was formative in my love of modernism and wanting to study art. My Dad comes from a long line of trawler-men, and during our weekly trip for fried egg sandwiches to Fletchers opposite, he’d tell me tales of his first trawler trip at the age of 12 to Murmansk and beyond the Arctic Circle. Aside from an avid fondness for Boyson’s graphic modernist aesthetic, I associate the Three Ships with stories of fantastical voyages that began in Hull, and as a metaphor for where life might lead me; its destruction would break my heart.” – Esther Johnson (artist/filmmaker)

Oral histories are being collected to record the memories of Co-Op and BHS store shoppers and employees; architects and designers; local and national opinions on the building; memories of club-going in the various incarnations of the nightclub at the top of the building. Central themes include a look at the Hull fishing and maritime heritage connection and whether people believe the mural is important in terms of geographical and historical local identity. There will also be attention to the effects of this remarkable piece of public art on peoples’ navigation and memories of the unique public realm of Hull City Centre.

https://threeshipsmural.weebly.com         @shipsinthesky63

Project Support

The first phase of this project is funded by James Reckitt Library Trust with the support of Hull Culture and Leisure, Hull Central Libraries; Hull Trinity Old Boys’ Association and the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University.

Artist Biography

Esther Johnson (MA Royal College of Art) is an artist and filmmaker working at the intersection of artist moving image and documentary. Project themes include social histories, heritage, regeneration, and exploration of architectural vernaculars and the inhabited environment. Johnson is Professor of Film and Media Arts in the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University. http://blanchepictures.com

Project duration 24 months


Have co-authored (with Leigh Bird) an article for The Modernist magazine:                                                                      



Other outputs: https://shipsinthesky.weebly.com

The project has just started but the following is planned:

– series of oral history interviews that will be added to ‘Untold Hull’ collection – travelling exhibition around Hull Libraries and other community venues – an artist film – a Hull Modernist Architecture tour – a Hull Modernist Architecture app – Final project exhibition – Symposium – Printed summary of project.

Contact details

Esther Johnson, Professor of Film and Media Arts

Sheffield Hallam University, Harmer 2418b, Sheffield, S1 1WB

Telephone:07866 586 248

Email: esther.johnson@blanchepictures.com