A safe space to share experiences and ask questions

Did you know that the Oral History Society has a community of online discussion groups? All members of the OHS can join.

The Oral History Society’s community of online discussion groups is hosted on the resource-rich Groups.io platform.

When you first join, you will belong to “Members@oral-history-society.groups.io“. This is where all members can share information with each other. You just have to send an email to the group and all members will see it. In the same way, you will see all emails sent to the group.

Each Special Interest Group of the OHS also has its own discussion group. If you would like to join a SIG subgroup, when you log into your Groups.io account, go to your members@oral-history-society.groups.io page, and click on “Subgroups” in the menu.

Every social media-based community has a “code of conduct” its members agree to abide by. Ours is based in the nature and practice of oral history. So if you imagine yourself in a typical oral history situation, you will immediately understand the ground rules.

  1. To start with, you make sure you understand your equipment: you never go into an interview without knowing how to set up and run your recording device! To help with this, we have a Forum – “Help I’m New Here” – and can provide a guide to help you make your way around the community. Because equipment sometimes develops a mind of its own or just stops working for no obvious reason, we will try to make sure there is always someone near by to help you until you’ve got things back under control.
  2. Then, you introduce yourself, letting the other person know who you are and why you are there! You and your interviewee might not bump elbows or shake hands, but you do try to make sure that both of you are at ease, sitting comfortably and in a good light. They might already be in the middle of a conversation, in which case you would naturally listen for a while to pick up the threads before joining in.
  3. And then the basics of the interview kick in: Oral history is about listening, and showing that you genuinely care to hear what the other person has to say. At the core of oral history practice is mutual respect and tolerance. You might challenge an interviewee and ask potentially difficult questions, but even if you deeply disagreed with what they were saying you would never shout at them, and you certainly wouldn’t call them names! Especially if you hoped to be invited back, or to have a cup of tea together later.
  4. In oral history there is also a duty of care and a presumption of confidentiality. This is a private discussion group community for members of the Oral History Society only. Any information a fellow member of the Oral History Society shares here, whether in their profile or in the course of a conversation, is like the information shared in the course of an interview: it belongs to them and should not be shared outside the context of the discussion group.
  5. Copyright: Anything you or any other member of the discussion community says should not be published (used outside the discussion group!) without their permission.
  6. And just as they have the moral right to be named as the author of their contribution, or to remain anonymous if they’d rather, they also have the right for their words and what they have said not to be subjected to ‘derogatory treatment’ by, for example, editing, adapting or making alterations which create a false impression of the person and what they said. This is a good guide to the code of conduct generally.

So these are the basic ‘ground rules” for the Oral History Society discussion group community: respect, care, tolerance. They come from generations of oral history best practice, and are part of the way we help us to learn from one another. There is a more detailed Social Media Policy for the Oral History Society as a whole, which stands behind this code of conduct, which you can see here.

The Code in a Nutshell

  • Know your equipment: Familiarise yourself with Groups.io and what it offers.
  • Introduce yourself to the members’ group. You can use the #Introductions hashtag in the subject header of your first email, and use your account profile to tell people who you are and what you’re interested in.
  • Listen and respond to others with mutual respect, tolerance and a genuine interest in what others have to say. Not that you would, but don’t even think of shouting, or abusing, or being offensive to others.
  • Exercise your duty of care and confidentiality.
  • 5. Don’t publish someone’s words outside the group itself without their permission.
  • 6. Inside and outside the discussion group, respect the other member’s moral rights to be named or not named as the author of what they have said, as they prefer; and for whatever they’ve said to be free from ‘derogatory treatment’ by, for example, editing, adapting or making alterations which create a false impression.
  • And, as with any oral history interview, come prepared to listen, to be surprised, to join in, to learn, to be delighted, and to join with others to help us understand and practice oral history better.

If something goes wrong

In the unlikely event that a member of the Oral History Society actively causes hurt or offense in the discussion lists, the moderators have the option of suspending them, or moderating their posts for a cooling off period. The moderators will talk privately with any such individual, to understand and resolve whatever issues the situation has raised, with the aim for the member to rejoin the conversations and enjoy everything the discussion groups have to offer.

If the situation can’t be resolved, or if there is a repetition of hurtful or offensive behaviour, a member can be removed entirely from the discussion group community. If the offense or behaviour is serious enough, they can even be removed by the Trustees from membership in the Oral History Society. In this case Section 8 of the Oral History Society constitution would come into play.

Members are the bedrock of the Oral History Society, and the constitution ensures that Trustees will not go about removing someone’s membership lightly. The constitution builds in a lengthy cooling period, and the opportunity to reflect and discuss with a member before the Trustee group as a whole takes a final decision. This is because oral history is about dialogue, cooperation, tolerance and resolution; and this should be reflected throughout the work and conversations that take place in this discussion group community.

The Oral History Society Constitution, Section 8: Termination of Membership.

Membership is terminated if:

(4) the member is removed from membership by a resolution of the Trustees that it is in the best interests of the Charity that his or her membership is terminated. A resolution to remove a member from membership may only be passed if:

(a) the member has been given at least twenty-one days’ notice in writing of the meeting of the Trustees at which the resolution will be proposed and the reasons why it is to be proposed;

(b) the member or, at the option of the member, the member’s representative (who need not be a member of the Charity) has been allowed to make representations to the meeting.

We hope that you have now decided to join our online community for OHS Members. Read our Privacy Notice below,  and if you agree to it, press YES, I WISH TO SUBSCRIBE.

When you click “Yes, I wish to Subscribe”, these are the next steps:

  1. You will be asked to confirm your email address by Groups.io
  2. Check your inbox for the confirmation email
  3. Select “Reply” if you simply want to send and receive emails to the Group, or
  4. Click on “Confirm your account” if you would like to set up a Groups.io account, and create your Profile.
  5. A Group Moderator will check to make sure that you are an OHS member, and will then "Accept" your subscription request. This may take up to 24 hours (apologies - we are volunteers!). Check your inbox for the Welcome email. It will have all the information you need to take it from there.

And if you have any problems after you join, simply take them to the “Help I’m New Here” Forum.

There is also a very comprehensive “Members Manual” on Groups.io, to help you get the most out of groups and your membership in them. See the Members Manual here.

Now please read the Privacy Notice below, which we ask you to read and agree:

Privacy Notice

I have read the Code of Conduct and the information about email discussion groups above. By giving my email address (above) and by subscribing, I am agreeing to abide by the Code of Conduct. Also, by subscribing:

I hereby agree that the Oral History Society can store, process and retain my personal data in order to pursue its aims, objectives and activities and provide services to Members and other users.  I understand that full details of how the Oral History Society stores and processes my data are stated in the ‘Privacy and Data Storage Policy’.

I understand that I may ask to see my personal data at any time, and request that it is amended or updated.  To make such an enquiry I will contact the Secretary of the Oral History Society: Rob Perks, Oral History, British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB.  Email: rob.perks@bl.uk.

Thank you for joining us. Enjoy the discussion groups. 

Please put your email address into the box:

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