Oral History and Photography Collections

We ran a very successful Oral History and Photography Collections training day at Dudley Archives in January 2019. Led by Richard Lewis of Dudley Archives and our project lead Geoff Broadway, it gave our project volunteers and 10 other interested participants an in-depth insight into various aspects of oral history.

Richard led the day with a detailed overview of what oral history is, explaining its core principles and some of the starting points for setting up a successful project. Geoff followed on with an audiovisual showcase of several diverse projects that have been developed around oral history including Storycorps in the US and The BBC’s Radio Ballads in the UK, as well as how it has been used in recent arts and heritage projects.

The day featured significant participant interaction through a series of guided exercises including developing key themes, questions and understanding active listening. We also covered aspects of recording technologies, making transcriptions, data protection and archiving.

The afternoon session focussed on oral history and photography collections which is one of the cornerstones of the Living Memory project. Geoff guided us through this complex session using his own experience of working on this project. The session touched on how to establish a frame for the conversation through a pre-recording process with the participant, how to keep track of the photographs that are discussed, creating transcripts with photographs, and finally how to work the with the participant to create summary stories for publication.


This was followed by a practical exercise that invited participants to conduct sessions with each other around their own photographs they had brought in for the day.

The final session of the day was a general sharing of how to establish your own oral history project and other general learning.  Participants shared some of their own planned and live projects, and Emma Case gave us a detailed overview of her project RED based on Liverpool Football Club supporters.

We want to say a bit thank you to all the participants who enthusiastically took part in the day and to Dudley Archives for co-delivering this alongside ourselves.

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