Special Interest Groups: what they are, how they work and how to create a new one.

If you are interested in creating a new Special Interest Group, please read the information below. Get in touch with the Special Interest Group Coordinator, Dr. Craig Fees, who will liaise with you throughout. Draw up an outline proposal, consult with other Oral History Society (Society) members and gather four or five who wish to join and support the development of the Special Interest Group. Consult with Trustees if possible, and then submit your proposal through the Special Interest Group Coordinator.

What is a Special Interest Group ?

A SIG in summary:

  • is made up of members of the Oral History Society, who take leadership and management roles within it
  • takes responsibility for developing ideas, strategies, programmes of work, projects etc. within the SIG’s terms of reference as agreed by Trustees
  • has no delegated powers, which is to say, it has no direct responsibility or competence in relation to the governance of the charity, its finances or similar matters related to the management and running of the charity as such (you can simply get on with running the SIG!);
  • has at least one Trustee member, who acts as liaison for and constitutional anchor within the SIG
  • has £250 available annually from the Society, and can have a separate budget, where appropriate, to enable its activities and meetings to take place. The budget has to be agreed with the Society’s Treasurer for inclusion in the overall Society Budget.
  • keeps minutes, and reports back on a regular basis to Trustees on its activities and work, both proposed and executed.

What are the responsibilities of a SIG?

SIGs are not committees or subcommittees of the Oral History Society, but, with this caveat, they are governed by the same rules and conventions of recording-keeping and management of the Oral History Society for committees as set out in the Oral History Society’s Constitution. SIGs have in addition particular responsibilities and these are as follows:

  1. SIGs shall promote the objectives of the Oral History Society as set out in the Society’s constitution;
  2. SIGs shall act in the best interests of the Oral History Society -, with significant autonomy to operate and develop programmes of work
  3. Each SIG will be expected to play a part in the Society’s annual conference by
    1. Liaising with the conference organising group;
    2. Contributing a panel to the conference.

How can a SIG be created?

One or more members of the Society can propose the creation of a SIG to the Trustees.
Trustees may accept the creation of a SIG if at least one Trustee accepts the responsibility of liaison membership in the SIG, and if the Oral History Society’s Committee of Trustees agrees that:

  • The terms of reference of the SIG support and contribute to the Aims and Objects of the Society; and
  • The terms of reference of the SIG do not duplicate or significantly overlap with those of an existing SIG.

SIGs will function under the existing constitutional provisions, guidelines and byelaws relating to committees, as set out in the appendix, below. The terms of reference of the SIG will be clearly set out, and will act as a record of powers and functions delegated from the Trustees to the SIG.


SIGs determine their own approach to organisation, with the proviso that each SIG shall have a Chair and a Secretary, with the proviso that the Chair and Secretary shall be elected annually by the membership of the SIG at the SIG’s General Meeting.

Within their terms of reference SIGs shall determine their own programmes of work and development, and may meet or work virtually online or through another appropriate communication media:

  • provided a record of the work and minutes of any actual or virtual meetings are kept as required by the constitution, and reported regularly to the Trustees,
  • Provide a register of members with names, addresses and institutional organisations,
  • that copies of minutes and reports are deposited with the Trustees, and
  • with the proviso that at least one meeting shall be held each year which shall be a General Meeting of the SIG, which shall be notified to members of the SIG and Trustees at least six weeks in advance, which takes items for the agenda from its members, and which shall be notified to and open to all members of the Society.


A SIG can commit up to £250 annually on behalf of the Society, through its work. A SIG can apply to the Trustees through the Society’s Treasurer for additional funding.

 All funds received by the SIG should be payable to the Society and should be sent to or remitted to the OHS through the Society’s Treasurer. The Society’s Treasurer will pay all expenditure incurred in line with the agreed budget. The Society’s Treasurer will prepare separate income and expense accounts for each SIG for presentation at their General Meetings.

At the request of a SIG the Trustees can agree a subscription for membership in the SIG which shall be in addition to the Society membership fee, and which will go to support the work of the SIG: with the proviso:

  • that such a SIG subscription will first have been agreed by majority vote at a General Meeting of the SIG,
  • that any funds raised in this or any other way shall be managed and audited as part of the Oral History Society’s accounts.

Any other fundraising proposals must have the agreement of the Trustees, and applications shall be in the name of the Society.

Any funds so raised shall be held as part of the Society’s accounts, and reported as part of the SIGs financial activity. If a SIG is dissolved, any funds which may have accrued for and from its activities shall be absorbed into the general funds of the Society.

Dissolving a SIG

A SIG can and shall be dissolved if in the view of the Trustees

  • it has brought the Society or the work of the Society into disrepute;
  • if it is no longer adhering to its terms of reference or governance;
  • if it is no longer contributing to the work, aims and objects of the Society;
  • if it exceeds its terms of reference, powers and functions (including spending) to the detriment of the Society;
  • if it falls below five members for two consecutive reporting years;
  • and/or if it does not include at least one member of the Trustees, who is responsible for receiving and reporting on the work and activities of the SIG to the Trustees
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