Archiving oral history recordings is an essential part of the oral history process – to ensure that these important narratives can be safely preserved and made available for researchers now and for generations to come. The archivist’s role is essential in maintaining the security and integrity of recordings (whether analogue or digital), and ensuring that public access is granted in line with the wishes of interviewees. The challenges for archivists are myriad – to ensure adequate storage, keep in line with new developments in digital preservation, maintain standards for documentation and legal concerns, and provide onsite and online access – all within an ethical framework.

The Oral History Society provides advice about oral history archiving and supports archivists in a number of ways:

  • The OHS Archives Sub-Committee is happy to offer advice on archival practice, deposit agreements, data management and filenaming conventions (email or in the first instance), and offers a training course on archival management for oral history, which is run in conjunction with the Archives and Records Association.
  • Archivists wanting to initiate their own oral history projects or work in partnership with external partners can also benefit from the practical advice section of the website. The media guidelines will also be invaluable for archivists seeking advice about how to manage requests to use oral history collections from broadcaster and journalists.
  • The OHS ethics pages outline best practice in terms of copyright, ethics and storage of material.
  • The OHS provides a list of oral history archives in the UK and abroad.

The British Library’s Save our Sounds initiative (including the UK Sound Directory) is an exciting development, which we expect to transform access to and knowledge of oral history over the next few years.

The OHS Archives Sub Committee has a diverse membership of archive professionals working in a number of settings:

Martin Astell, Sound Archivist at Essex Record Office and Chair of ARA Section for Film Sound and Photography (also an OHS Regional Networker)

Jonathan Draper, Senior Archivist at the Norfolk Sound Archive, Committee Member of ARA Section for Film Sound and Photography (also an OHS Regional Networker)

Craig Fees, archivist and oral historian for the Planned Environment Therapy Trust Archive and Study Centre (also an OHS Trustee)

Andrew Flinn, Reader in Archival Studies and the Director of the Archives and Records programme in the Department of Information Studies at University College London

Bridget Hanley, Collections Manager at Suffolk Record Office

Cathlin Macaulay, Curator of the School of Scottish Studies Archives, Committee Member of ARA Section for Film Sound and Photography

Rob Perks, Lead Curator of Oral History, BL (also an OHS Trustee)

Mary Stewart, Curator of Oral History, BL (also an OHS Trustee)

Hilary Young, Digital Curator, Museum of London (also an OHS Trustee)