Reflections from the East Midlands, 2021

Colin Hyde has now returned to EMOHA following his secondment to the Midlands Hub of Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH). While the British Library will continue this (NLHF funded) project throughout 2022, the regional hubs are winding up in the coming months. Colin writes: ‘We have preserved a vast number of sound recordings, including a lot of oral histories. In the Midlands we have returned newly preserved oral histories to the record offices in Shropshire, Worcestershire, Derby, Derbyshire, Coventry and Staffordshire, as well as the Library of Birmingham, Walsall Leather Museum, Forge Needle Museum, Coventry University, Keele University, the University of Nottingham, and Nottingham Libraries. We have also preserved a lot of BBC local radio recordings. I hope the collection holders will want to use their newly available recordings over the coming years, and that some might apply for NLHF funding to do so. It’s a newly available treasure trove, and we’re all quite excited about having been involved with it!’. For further information – Unlocking our sound heritage | Archives and Special Collections | University of Leicester

Helen Foster, who managed EMOHA in Colin’s absence, will be maintaining her links with the Centre for Urban History, where EMOHA is based. She has been successful in securing a Wellcome Trust ECR Fellowship to carry out research into the wellbeing aspects of sharing stories through interviews, facilitated conversations and creative practices. The ‘Silent Archive: spoken testimonies of menopause’ project provides the foundation for this work, which is funded until March 2022.  ‘The Silent Archive’ was completed in May 2021, and extracts from the interviews are now available on the project website. Between January 2020 and May 2021 EMOHA worked with people in communities across the East Midlands to capture and record experiences and perceptions of this important life stage which is often silent in the oral history archives. The project was awarded a grant of £10,000 by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to carry out this work. The recordings were made during the Covid-pandemic in 2020 and 2021, and therefore largely gathered online. This has affected the quality of some of the recordings, but was important work to carry out, and has meant that each testimony also captures the life experiences of people during a time of pandemic. For further information – The Silent Archive | East Midlands Oral History Archive | University of Leicester.

The ‘Hidden Memories of Nottingham Mental Health Care’ project at Nottingham Trent University, funded by a grant of £10,000 from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, has been exploring and documenting the heritage of early community care in Nottingham following the Community Care Act 1990. Federico Arguinarena Dia, one of the volunteers on the project,  wrote that: ‘The project has changed my way of approaching mental health problems by normalising and accepting them, and empathising with people and their family members. It is not always an easy task to listen when someone relates painful experiences, but the process is compensated by the gratifying testimonies of recovery and hope. Before this project, oral history was a discipline unknown to me. I have become absorbed in this methodology, and have understood its importance for preserving the social history of disenfranchised groups, who are usually silenced in the mainstream, for future generations. Oral histories become an inestimable source of knowledge and lived experiences’. For further information – Hidden mental health care memories

Cynthia Brown and Colin Hyde

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