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Volume: 43, Issue: 1 (2015)
'We didn't realise how brave we were at the time': the 1968 Ford sewing machinists' strike in public and personal memory
The 1968 sewing machinists' strike for equal grading at Ford's plant in Dagenham has been identified as a key moment in the history of women and work, widely associated with prompting the 1970 Equal Pay Act and presaging a period that saw the emergence of the Women's Liberation Movement and increased gender equality in Britain. Public memory of the strike's legacy was transmitted to a wider audience through the 2010 feature film Made in Dagenham. This article shows that this was not necessarily how the sewing machinists understood the strike's outcome at the time, or in the period since. The article considers the impact of film on the personal memory of women involved in the dispute and explores how they negotiated the tension between their newfound public role as history-makers and their personal experience of defeat.
Author(s): Jonathan Moss
Keywords: popular memory; film; equal pay; Dagenham; women's strike

From market trader to global player: oral history and corporate culture in Tesco, Britain's largest supermarket
Although Tesco has been documented in the national and business press, particularly during times of intense public scrutiny, there is little in-depth research on the company. 'Tesco: An Oral History' recorded nearly forty life story interviews with employees past and present between 2004 and 2007, from which it was possible to identify conflicting company narratives that originated in the early days of the business. Key events in Tesco's history, which fundamentally altered the way in which it operated, are examined from multiple viewpoints, illustrating how a single event can be viewed and interpreted. In addition, the origins and implications of organisational change are examined. I argue for the benefits of using oral history in a corporate environment while discussing the challenges.
Author(s): Niamh Dillon
Keywords: Tesco, British retail; company narrative; organisational change

Re-using community oral history sources on food and family life in the First World War
This paper is about re-using archived oral histories from two contrasting community oral history groups, Ambleside Oral History Group in the Lake District and Waltham Forest Oral History Workshop in London, to study family food practices during the First World War. Analysis of thirty-eight transcripts from the archives reveal themes relating to farming and food growing, hardship, food shortages, meals and self-sufficiency. We discuss some of the methodological opportunities, challenges and limitations of re-using oral histories in a social scientific study focusing on food and family life in hard times, such as the type, quality and accessibility of the interview data; co-construction; the interviewer's use of local knowledge and stories from previous interviews to steer interviews; and questions of temporality and context. We conclude that, despite the challenges and limitations of re-using oral histories, there is a wealth of sources in community oral history archives available for both social scientists and historians.
Author(s): Abigail Knight, Julia Brannen and Rebecca O’Connell
Keywords: Re-using oral history archives; Ambleside; Waltham Forest; food; families; First World War

Towards the 'oral' in oral history: using historical narratives in linguistics
The Millennium Memory Bank (MMB), Europe's largest oral history archive, is not only an interesting source for research into oral history, but it also offers a lot of potential as a database for linguistic analyses. However, many linguists seem to be unaware of the opportunities such archives offer. This article argues for an extended use of oral history collections in linguistics and promotes a closer relationship between the communities of linguists and oral historians. It also includes an account of how to create a dialect corpus with MMB interviews from Wales.
Author(s): Katja Roller
Keywords: Millennium Memory Bank; linguistics; transcription; re-use; interdisciplinary approach; Welsh English

Military doctors in South Vietnam: wartime and post-war lives
In one of the major diasporas of the twentieth century, more than two million Vietnamese fled their homeland after the end of the Vietnam War. Among the least-known components of this diaspora are the former soldiers of the Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces (RVNAF). Their histories have been suppressed in Vietnam War historiography and erased in post-war Vietnam. Drawing on a new oral history project, this article seeks to address this imbalance in the historical record by exploring the narratives of two military doctors who served in front line units. Their stories convey their unique perspectives as medical professionals in combat situations. While their accounts reveal a series of traumas and losses, they also display a remarkable level of resilience and adaptability, illustrating both the commitment of well-educated officers in the RVNAF as well as the capacity of refugees to rebuild their lives in a new country.
Author(s): Nathalie Huynh Chau Nguyen
Keywords: Vietnam War; military doctors; Republic of Vietnam Armed Forces; refugees; trauma; resilience

Public History
Community oral history: where we have been, where we are going
This article is a slightly revised version of the author's keynote address to the Oral History Society's 2014 conference in Manchester, UK. In it she addresses the conference theme, 'Community History: Oral History on the Ground', by reflecting on her experience with a community-based oral history project in Baltimore, Maryland, in the late 1970s/early 1980s and then using that as a springboard for assessing both advances and continuing issues in oral history over the last three-and-more decades. She considers the tensions between popular and professional understandings of history and the sanitized version of the past promoted by some local history projects; the problematics of conceptualizing community solely around residence in a specific locale and of structuring community oral history projects around a series of life history interviews; the relationship of history to social change; and issues of sustainability. While offering no easy solutions to these concerns, she suggests potentially fruitful ways to approach them: focusing on dynamic issues rather than biographical narratives in community projects; recognising real differences within a community; exercising leadership within a relationship of shared authority in addressing these differences over the long haul in the civic arena; setting realistic goals; and above all, recording multiple, contradictory stories across a spectrum of social differences and then trusting the power of these stories to communicate broader social truths.
Author(s): Linda Shopes
Keywords: community; Baltimore; neighbourhood; leadership; sustainability

Collaborating with schools: challenges and opportunities for oral historians
Collaboration with schools represents an important way to engage young learners with the practical uses of oral testimony. This article considers the challenges and opportunities for oral historians considering such collaborative work, based on the experience of the Scottish Oral History Centre in working with Springburn Academy. It is suggested that, despite challenges, an oral history project can increase the confidence and attainment of the pupils involved, outlining the practical aspects of a project which appeared to facilitate these positive outcomes, aiming to promote dialogue across the oral history community.
Author(s): Andy Clark
Keywords: school oral history; attainment; collaboration; aspiration; Glasgow

According to Baba: A Collaborative Oral History of Sudbury's Ukrainian Community
Author(s): Stacey Zembrzycki

African Americans and Gentrification in Washington DC
Author(s): Sabiyha Prince

Maithil Women's Tales: Storytelling on the Nepal-India Border
Author(s): Coralynn V Davis

Folktales and Storytellers of Iran: Culture, Ethos and Identity
Author(s): Erika Friedl

Folk Stories and Personal Narratives in Palestinian Spoken Arabic: A Cultural and Linguistic Study
Author(s): Nadia R Sirhan

Home, Uprooted: Oral Histories of India's Partition, Devika Chawla; Working Lives: Gender, Migration and Employment in Britain, 1945-2007
Author(s): Linda McDowell

Challenging History: Oral History Work in Cyprus
Author(s): Holger Briel (ed)

Oral History Off the Record: Towards an Ethnography of Practice
Author(s): Anna Sheftel and Stacey Zembrzycki (eds)

Unlikely Warriors: The British in the Spanish Civil War and the Struggle Against Fascism
Author(s): Richard Baxell