Meet our Trustees
I became Chair of the Oral History Society in 2017 and I am a member of the Society’s Higher Education and Migration Special Interest Groups. I am also currently a member of the organising group for our 2022 Annual Conference on the theme of ‘Home’. I have participated in community based oral history projects since the early 2000s including those on refugees, young people in care, work experiences in declining industries of the Thames Gateway and lost trades in the London borough of Islington. I have recently collaborated with Jenny Harding and Verusca Calabria on a three day course for PhD students at universities in the south of England. I work part-time as a senior professor of Sociology at London Met. University where I teach health ethics and research methods. My research interests include racism, learning and teaching in higher education and oral history, of course!
I first discovered oral history when I was studying for a doctorate in political history, since when I helped establish the Bradford Heritage Recording Project in the early 1980s, working as a museum curator, before a period in television. From 1988 until my recent retirement, I was Lead Curator of Oral History at the British Library, and Director of National Life Stories since 1996, heading a team of interviewers, archivists and transcribers involved in oral history collecting and fieldwork in a variety of sectors: from arts and crafts to business and finance, from the utilities to science, from architecture to publishing. I’ve been Secretary of the Oral History Society and an editor of Oral History Journal since the later 1980s. I’ve acted as an advisor to a range of oral history organisations around the world, including the National Lottery Heritage Fund (HLF) and BBC Radio in the UK, and projects in Canada, Greece, India, Australia, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey, China and Ireland. In 2007 I was awarded an honorary DLitt by the University of Huddersfield. My publications include The Oral History Reader (Routledge, third edition 2015, with Al Thomson). My last major project before retiring was ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’, an ambitious five-year £18.8m project to digitally preserve 100,000 of the nation’s most rare and vulnerable sound recordings, both at the British Library and around the UK, working with a consortium partnership network of ten regional audio preservation centres.
At present I’m the Vice Chair of the OHS but I’ve been a Trustee since the 1980s. I’m also a regional network representative for Wales and an accredited oral history trainer. I’m now retired, but before that I worked for many years at the open-air museum at St Fagans, Cardiff. I was initially employed as a Welsh language dialect researcher, when the museum was still known as the Welsh Folk Museum. I then worked there as a sound archivist and oral historian, eventually becoming Keeper of History and Archaeology for the National Museum of Wales as a whole. Before retiring, I was very proud to have led the content team for the reimagining of St Fagans as a participatory national museum of history – a project that resulted in the museum being awarded the Arts Fund Museum of the Year in 2019. If you are in Wales and would like advice or training in oral history, please get in touch.
Rwy’n siarad Cymraeg ac wedi gweithio gyda chymunedau ar hyd a lled Cymru. Os ydych yn gwneud prosiect hanes llafar trwy gyfrwng y Gymraeg, mae pob croeso ichi gysylltu am gyngor.
Special Interest Group Co-ordinator
My oral history roots are in family, and I came by way of theatre and a 45 minute interview with a prominent Los Angeles actor where I forgot to take the recorder off pause, to Leeds and the Cotswolds as a PhD student in the Institute of Dialect and Folklife Studies where the local community of Chipping Campden sent me galloping on the lifelong road of learning about oral history I’m still engaged in. Oral history was central to the archive and study centre I was asked to establish and developed over thirty years, which was devoted to therapeutic, care and educational environments – schools, prisons, psychiatric units, children’s homes, communities – which shaped my practice, and understanding of oral history as a tool for building community, and sense of self, place, and belonging. I’m an Honorary Research Fellow in the History of Medicine at the University of Birmingham, course author and tutor in Oral History in the Centre for Archive and Information Studies at the University of Dundee, and within the OHS am a Trustee, with a special role working with and for Special Interest Groups, a Regional Networker, and a British Library National Sound Archive/Oral History Society trainer.
I have been a Trustee of the OHS since 2017 and I am chiefly responsible for planning and managing the Society’s digital communications. I was first introduced to oral history as an undergraduate, but my involvement in the field really began during my PhD when I worked on an NLHF-funded oral history exhibition project called ‘Hineni’ with both the Cardiff Reform Synagogue and Butetown History and Arts Centre.
I am currently working on the exhibition for the proposed UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London. Prior to this, I worked as a Digital Collections Manager at the Royal Horticultural Society’s Lindley Library and as an Oral History Curator at the British Library, where I worked on several in-house and partnering exhibition projects with organisations like Tate Britain and the Library of Birmingham. I am interested in how the GLAM sector uses oral history, particularly in exhibitions and online resources, and alongside researching the history of Welsh Jewry, I volunteer as an oral history interviewer for the History of Parliament Trust.
Rydw i’n siarad Cymraeg ac mae croeso i chi gysylltu â mi yn Gymraeg.
Higher Education Co-ordinator
I am Professor of Media and Culture at London Metropolitan University. I have researched and written about cultural theory, emotions, gender and sexuality and have been involved in a number of community based oral history projects. I am a trustee of The Oral History Society, one of the editors of Oral History, Chair of the Oral History in Higher Education Special Interest Group and a member of the LGBTQ+ Special Interest Group.
I am a Trustee of the Oral History Society, one of its Accredited Trainers, and a Regional Network representative for Leicestershire and Rutland. I also edit the Current British Work section of Oral History, the Society’s journal. I started my oral history career in the 1990s in a community history unit at Leicester City Council, and in 2001 I helped to establish the HLF-funded East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) at the University of Leicester, where I was Project Manager for three years. I have a particular interest in using oral history to research and interpret family history, and along with my colleague Mary Stewart I contributed an article on the subject, ‘Exploring encounters between families, their histories and archived oral histories’, to the Archives and Records journal in April 2017. Other articles include ‘Moving on: reflections on oral history and migrant communities in Britain’ in Oral History, Volume 34, No. 1. I have also written or edited a range of books using oral histories. I am now semi-retired but continue to teach modern British history and local history to adult students alongside my involvement in the Oral History Society.
I am Lead Curator of Oral History at the British Library and Director of National Life Stories, the oral history fieldwork charity. It has been my privilege to be a Trustee of the Society since 2008, and I recently led a review of the Society’s governance. I have helped to organise many OHS conferences and events, I sit on the Society’s Finance Sub-Committee and am an accredited Oral History Society/British Library trainer specialising in courses on Archival Management of Oral History and Data Protection. As part of the British Library’s oral history team I work to add diverse voices from across the UK to the Library’s Sound Archive, particularly through academic and community partnerships, and I recently was curatorial lead on an audio resource exploring the history of domestic life. I have project-managed several oral history fieldwork projects gathering long life story interviews – including on the UK Water Industry and Baring Bank. I am currently researching how oral history and family history intersect, which builds upon my studies of my own family history, and I have been delighted to collaborate with fellow OHS Trustees on advice for family historians using oral history. As a member of the #HistoriansCollaborate Network, we are bringing together academic, community and family historians, with archive and museum professionals to interrogate how we research the past in order to foster better collaboration.
Deputy Regional Network Co-ordinator
An OHS trustee since 2009, I am Deputy Coordinator of the Regional Network and representative for the South East region. As Liaison Trustee I support the Environment and Climate Change Special Interest Group (ECC-SIG). My oral history journey began in the late 1990s at Southampton Oral History Unit with recording the life stories of Asian women, shipyard workers and local communities. Now a freelance consultant, I work with heritage, educational and community organisations on participatory projects that explore the lesser-known stories of people, places and working lives. I also provide training, mentoring and external evaluations for heritage projects. Recent oral history work has involved recording and editing interviews on migration, manufacturing, maritime and regeneration themes to create content for museum displays, audio posts, online exhibitions and publications. I am particularly interested in collaborations where my interviews are interpreted and presented in creative ways to engage and captivate people.
I am a long-standing OHS trustee and have been an editor of the society’s journal Oral History for over forty years. I am emeritus professor of oral history at the Open University where I taught in what was then the Faculty of Health and Social Care. I have a particular interest in remembering from a late life perspective and the contribution of oral history to changing understandings of the past, who gets to be a historian and retrieving marginalised experience. I have researched and published on reminiscence, migration, community history, inter-generational remembering, belief and non belief, biographical research methods and the re-use or secondary analysis of archived oral history. Over the years I have taken part in and organised various oral history conferences and I’m delighted to see that interest in recording memories continues to engage with an ever widening range of topics, drawing in new communities and making creative use of inclusive sound and visual technologies. When I’m not doing oral history I like to walk, cycle, read, work on our allotment and be involved in local campaigning.
Nominations Subcommittee Convenor
I am an Early Career Research Fellow in the department of Social Work, School of Social Sciences, Nottingham Trent University. My PhD thesis, entitled “Oral Histories of the Nottinghamshire Mental Hospitals” (2020), explored the changing dimension of care practices from the mental hospital to community care by co-producing the oral histories of former patients and retired staff. My research expertise include oral history, participatory-action-research, psychosocial approaches to mental health and service-user involvement. I am also an oral history and heritage consultant. My current oral history project entitled Memories of Mental Health Care aims to explore and preserve the social history of Nottingham mental health provision. Some of the oral history projects I have led in the past include the Environment Trust’s Jam Yesterday Jam Tomorrow, the Wellcome Trust One and Other fourth-plinth collection, Belonging in Brent, Memories from Emilia Romagna and Sicily.
My roles within the OHS are Trustee, Regional Network Representative (South Yorkshire), Accredited Trainer and Website Officer. I teach public health subjects and oral history in palliative care in the Division of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield. I have worked on numerous palliative care and end of life research studies and in 2007 established an oral history project as a service for patients in a Palliative Care Unit in Sheffield. This project continues to offer patients an opportunity to create life history recordings as personal and family records and for research. I also lead an Oral History Group which focuses on oral history research in healthcare and collaborates with care providers in establishing new oral history projects. Key to this work has been the development of a bespoke training and development programme for hospices and palliative care centres.
Amy Tooth Murphy
I am a Lecturer in Oral History at Royal Holloway, University of London. I specialise in oral history and queer history, never happier than when bringing these research and teaching interests together, using oral history to record and analyse the stories of LGBTQ people in their own words. I am passionate about using history to explore and combat inequality and injustice, both historical and in our contemporary world. As such I am deeply invested in the histories of marginalised and oppressed identities and communities. I grew up in a politically engaged household, and my path to oral history began there, learning that ‘having a voice’ meant the difference between inclusion and exclusion. I went to school in the days of Section 28 of the Local Government Act (1988), which prohibited the ‘promotion of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’ in state schools. In part, I do what I do as an act of reclamation, and defiance against political and education systems that told me that LGBTQ identities and lives were not valid. For me, oral history is a tool that breaks down barriers and builds communities up. It is a way in which we can speak truth to power.
I am the Library & Information Officer for Local History at Dundee Libraries, where we hold a large and varied collection including print, manuscripts, photographs and oral histories from the city’s history. I’ve worked on academic and community oral history research projects in the past, and have been lucky enough to interview lighthouse keepers, craft workers and storytellers among many others. I am particularly interested in projects about people’s work and creative lives, and the importance of place. I am currently working on conserving and sharing the existing oral histories in our library collections, and am looking forward to expanding Dundee oral history collections in the future too. You can get in touch with me via email or Twitter.
I am a trustee of the Society and also a member of Editorial Board of the Society’s Journal. I work as a consultant qualitative social researcher and oral historian. As a qualitative researcher, my work cuts across both the public and charitable sectors. My particular expertise is in health services research and I am now Alternate Vice-Chair of the London Bridge Health Research Authority (HRA) Research Ethics Committee. Trained as a research methodologist, my interest is in the cross-over between oral history and qualitative research methodologies. Recently I have been funded by a charitable foundation to explore the history of the voluntary and community sector in Tower Hamlets over the last 40 years through the voices of those that have inspired and driven it.
Professional accountant who has worked voluntarily with charitable organisations.