East Midlands 2016


Leicestershire & Rutland (Cynthia Brown & Colin Hyde)

The East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) held its annual Oral History Day at Nottingham Central Library in June 2016 on the theme of ‘Oral History and Health’. It was organised by Colin Hyde, Cynthia Brown and Verusca Calabria, OHS Regional Network representatives for the East Midlands, and drew an audience from across the region. It included presentations on Verusca’s PhD research into the role of social support and networks in psychiatric hospitals in Nottinghamshire, and that of Yewlande Okuleye on issues around the ‘re-medicalisation’ of cannabis as a medicine.  Other contributions covered an HLF-funded project to document twenty five years of the history of Leicestershire AIDS Support Service (LASS); the Boots oral history project to capture the memories of past and present employees and the different perspectives that they can bring to the company history; and reflections from a volunteer for a project in Kent the extent to which talking about her memories helped to reduce some of the anxiety and distress of a patient with Parkinson’s Disease.

An oral history project focusing on the development of Leicester’s heritage from World War II to the present has been awarded a £45,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The project, called ‘Changing Leicester’, will tell the story through oral testimony of the beginnings of heritage development in the 1950s and 1960s, continuing through the evolution of archaeological research, and reaching a peak with the discovery and re-interment of the bones of King Richard III which put Leicester on the world’s map. It will record changing perceptions of the importance of buried remains and local heritage, the impact of heritage preservation on local people, and the way that heritage preservation is reflected in the media. It is led by the Leicestershire Archaeological & Historical Society (LAHS) in partnership with Leicester Arts & Museums Service and EMOHA. Project staff and volunteers will seek out memories and memorabilia from across the city, and there will be exhibitions in a Leicester museum and community venues in 2017.

EMOHA has also secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a one year project to record an oral history of post-war Leicester 1945-1962. This will enlist volunteers to record memories of as many aspects of life in Leicester in the post-war period as possible. The results will feed into Leicester City Council’s Story of Leicester website. Further information at http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/community/postwarleicester.html. EMOHA continues to provide training for oral history projects across the East Midlands. In 2015-16 these have included the Diwali project at Leicester City Council, which has recorded memories of people who have attended the festival over the years (see www.visitleicester.info/things-to-see-and-do/arts-museums/exhibitions/diwali/);  the history of the Nupur Arts organisation in Leicester (www.nupurarts.org.uk/; and a project by the Galleries of Justice in Nottingham to record memories of the former Shire Hall where it is based (www.galleriesofjustice.org.uk/share-your-memories-with-the-galleries-of-justice-museum/).

Nottinghamshire (Verusca Calabria)

I’ve been transitioning from London to Nottingham in the last year hence I have been giving advice and supporting oral history projects in both regions.


I recorded 11 interviews with key players about the history of St Martins of Tour, a thriving charitable organisation in London that was set up in 1920 by the Catholic Fund to cater for homeless and destitute men. I wrote a brief history of St Martins and produced sound bites from the interviews. To find out more, visit: www.stmartinoftours.org.uk/about-us/history.

I provided advice to the Greater London Community Interest Company on their HLF application for an oral history project entitled  ‘The Greater London Council 1981-86: retelling a forgotten history’. The grant application has been successful.

I have helped prepare the audio-visual archive for the oral history project ‘Twilight People Stories of Faith & Gender Beyond the Binary’. The archive has now been deposited at the London Metropolitan Archives. More information about the project can be found here: www.twilightpeople.com.


I helped Colin Hyde and Cynthia Brown to organise the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) annual Oral History Day at Nottingham Central Library in June 2016 on the theme of ‘Oral History and Health’. As part of the day, I gave a presentation based on my PhD research on the value of social support and social networks in psychiatric hospitals in Nottinghamshire.

As part of the aforementioned research, I am conducting oral history interviews with former patients and staff of the Nottinghamshire mental hospitals. I plan to deposit the recordings at the Nottingham’s Central Library – Local Studies section – upon completion of my fieldwork.

I am about to start teaching on the BA in Health and Social Care at Nottingham Trent University. I have introduced the theory and practice of oral history to the curriculum including the option of adopting a life history approach as part of the assessment process.