Oral History Archives


British Library Sound Archive, London, New Oral History Acquisitions 2005-6

Two major fieldwork programs were completed over the past year: “Lives in the Oil Industry” (177 interviews), a collaborative project with Aberdeen University focusing on North Sea oil and gas exploration; and “Book Trade Lives,” comprising 118 interviews documenting bookselling, publishing and wholesaling from the 1920s. Our Artists’ Lives project celebrated its fifteenth year with its 235th life story interview (with Simon Lewty). Interviewees have ranged from Eileen Agar (1889-1991), whose memories stretch back into the nineteenth century, to younger Scottish artists such as Abigail McLellan (b 1969). Major funding from the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation will allow Artists Lives to add a steady flow of new interviews over the next few years. A full annual report can be downloaded from http://www.bl.uk/collections/sound-archive/nlsc.html, which also details our other ongoing fieldwork programs in the areas of the crafts, the food industry (including an oral history of supermarket giant Tesco), theater design, social welfare, disability, horticulture, fashion and sport. Our online catalog provides more details of each collection at www.cadensa.bl.uk.

Among donated collections, a major acquisition of 300 digital recordings with over 1200 people all over the UK was received from the BBC as part of their “Voices” project, one of the largest-ever linguistic surveys in Britain. The Harman-Shepherd collection of interviews with a cross-party group of 83 women Members of Parliament, recorded and deposited by Boni Sones, is embargoed for five years but extracts have already appeared on BBC Radio 4 and in a book Women in Parliament: The New Suffragettes (Politico’s). The Society of Archivists Oral History Project, 69 interviews with senior members of the profession, were gathered as part of the Society’s 50th anniversary reflecting changes in conservation and records management, and came tos with full transcripts. Some acetate recordings of Leonard Cheshire were deposited by the Leonard Cheshire Archive Centre: Group Captain Cheshire VC commanded the famous RAF 617 “Dambusters” Squadron and later established the Cheshire homes for older and disabled people. Finally, a not yet cataloged collection of interviews relating to the introduction of the contraceptive pill in the 1960s was deposited by Lara Marks, originally recorded for her book Sexual Chemistry: A History of the Contraceptive Pill (Yale University Press).

Rob Perks [email protected]


Jamaican Hands Across the Atlantic, by Elaine Bauer and Paul Thompson, IAN RANDLE PUBLISHERS, 2006.http://www.ianrandlepublishers.com/books/jcanhand.htm US$ 24.95; UK 16.95

Leaving aside the forced migrations of the slave era, Jamaican migration goes back over a century initially within the Caribbean to countries like Panama but it was the post-1945 trek to Britain that signaled a new phase in Jamaican and West Indian migration. Large scale migration of Jamaicans to North America began later in the 1970s and there are now reported to be over a million Jamaicans in New York alone. Although there have been valuable studies of West Indians in Toronto and New York, none have looked at the triangular family connections between Britain, North America and Jamaica.

This book is a study of some 45 families originating in Jamaica who also have members in both Britain, the US and Canada. Oral interviews with these families provide insights into the dynamics of transnational families. The authors conclude that Jamaican transnational families are important as key witnesses to understanding the experiences of migration, global living with family members scattered between continents, the instability of parents’ shifting relationships and encounters with both racial mixing and racism.

Further, because of the modernity of their family structures, they provide important clues for the future of the majority of white families of the twenty-first century both in difficulties and in solutions. The book is written in an accessible style and is rich in vivid quotations from family members. It will appeal to several readerships including the broad audience interested in Caribbean families and culture, Black Cultural Studies, Race and Diaspora Studies. Elaine Bauer is an Anthropologist researching on black-white couples and their families. She is a Fellow at the Young Foundation, London. Paul Thompson is Research Professor in Sociology at the University of Essex. He is founder-editor of Oral History and founder of the National Life Story Collection at the British Library. His many books include The Edwardians; Living the Fishing, Growing Up in Stepfamilies; and The Voice of the Past.

In this vivid and readable text, Elaine Bauer and Paul Thompson provide a wealth of new insights into the pivotal role played by the Jamaican family in transnational migration. Using extensive interview material and oral testimonies, they track the complex pathways by which the family connects different experiences and generations, sustains networks and links pasts and future across the vicissitudes imposed by separation, time and space.

Stuart Hall

Never Too Small to Remember: Memory Work and Resilience in Times of AIDS, edited by Philippe Denis, South Africa: CLUSTER PUBLICATIONS, 2005

With thousands of children being orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, South African oral historians at the Simolando Center for Oral History and Memory in Pietermaritzburg launched the Memory Box Program in 2001. The program operates under the assumption that children who retain positive recollections of their deceased parents will develop more resilience and be able to cope with their hardship. With the cooperation of the family, their story is recorded, transcribed, and compiled in a booklet for the children and their caregivers. The Memory Box is a wooden, metal, or cardboard box that holds photos and other memorabilia belonging to the deceased, along with the text of their interviews. The volume includes essays on the project’s methodology, the training program, its cultural significance, and means of measuring resilience. A training manual is included as an appendix. The editor notes that memory box methodology is becoming increasingly popular in southern and eastern Africa and is supplementing the African tradition of storytelling, as the tellers of the story fall victim to the disease.

“Cidades da Mineraçao” [Cultural Memory and Practices], by Regina Beatriz Guimaraes Neto. EDITORA DA UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DE MATO GROSSO, Brasil, 2006.

In this work, the author analyses, through experience and motive, different social groups that emigrated to the mining towns of Mato Grosso in the first half of the twentieth century. As the professor explains in the prologue, the books questions traditional historiography concerning central-west Brazil that describes an uninhabited region Research is based on oral accounts of individuals and collective groups (relatives) of the city’s first inhabitants, hacendados, businessmen and women. Interviews were made in the perspective of life history. The interviews were made with the perspective of life histories. Also, available written documents in the region have extensively been used. Undoubtedly, this is an excellent sample of the potential of Brazilian oral history.


Oral History, Vol. 34, no 2, Autumn 2006


So Much Depends on a Red Bus, Or, Innocent Victims of the Liberating Gun, Alessandro Portelli

Memories of the War and the War of Memories in Post-Communist Bulgaria, Daniela Koleva

The Politics of “Selective “Memory: Re-Visiting Canadian Women’s Wartime Work ion the Public Record, Pamela Wakewich and Helen Smith

“These Feelings Fill My Heart”: Japanese Canadian Women’s Memories of Internment, Pamea Sugiman

Humor in Oral History Interviews, Neal R. Norrick

London’s Voices: Exhibiting Oral History, Annette Day

All the articles are abstracted on the Oral History Society website: http://www.oralhistory.org.uk

Oral History Review, Vol 32, no 2, Summer/Fall 2005


Talking about Remembering and Forgetfulness in Oral History Interviews, Neal R. Norrick

Ask and Tell: Gay Veterans, Identity, and oral History on a Civil Rights Frontier, Steve Estes Secrets, Lies, and Misremembering, Take II, Sandy Polishuk

When Subjects Talk Back: Writing Anne Braden’s Life-In-Progress, Catherine Fosl

Negotiating Voices: Biography and the Curious Triangle Between Subject, Author, and Editor, Deborah A. Gershenowitz

Pushing Boundaries in oral History-Based Biographies, Kathryn L. Nasstrom

Put it in Writing

WORDS AND SILENCES the journal of the IOHA, is seeking contributions for the 2007 issue, articles, reviews of books, films, plays or other performances or exhibits that rely on oral history.


Contributions may be written in English or Spanish (or both, which would save us translation work).

Use Word for windows 95 or later. In short pieces please include references, if necessary, in the text and not as footnotes.

For longer pieces, place footnotes at the end, as text and not in the automatic format.


(a) Author (first and last name), Title (bold if a book, “in quotes if an article, diss, etc.”), Publication data (Place, Publisher, date if book; name of journal in bold, no. and date if article), p. or pp.

(b) Subsequent references: Author’s last name, shortened title, p. or pp.

(c) Interviews: Interviewee’s full name, interviewed by (interviewer’s full name), place, date, reference to collection if any. Please email your article as an attachment to:[email protected] or [email protected]

The DEADLINE for receipt of contributions is 1 February 2007. Please pass this request on to other oral historians.


H-Oralhist (http://www.h-net.org/~oralhist/), is an on-line network for those interested in studies related to oral history. It is a member of the H-Net, the Humanities & Social Sciences Online initiative, an international interdisciplinary organization of scholars and teachers dedicated to utilizing the enormous educational potential of the Internet and the World Wide Web. Its edited lists and web sites publish peer reviewed essays, multimedia materials, and discussion for scholars and the interested public. The computing heart of H-Net resides at the Center for Humane Arts, Letters, and Social Sciences Online, at Michigan State University, but H-Net officers, editors and subscribers come from all over the globe. You can subscribe for free to the oral history list at: http://www.h-net.org/lists/subscribe.cgi?list=H-OralHist

IOHA Membership Details

The International Oral History Association (IOHA) was formally constituted in June 1996 at the Eleventh International Oral History Conference in Goteborg, Sweden. The Association provides a forum for oral historians around the world, in order to foster international communication and cooperation and a better understanding of the nature and value of oral history. The Association meets every two years in a different region or continent. Benefits of membership include:

? concessionary rates for the biennial international oral history conferences

? copies of Words and Silences, the annual, bilingual (English and Spanish) Journal of the IOHA (containing oral history articles, an index of oral history journals from around the world, special items and commentaries on oral history issues) 
?access to the IOHA home page on the world wide web 
? access to IOHA News, the on-line newsletter of the Association 
?voting rights at the Association’s General Meetings and Council elections 
?active participation in the international community of oral historians.
Individuals: 46 Euros 
Institutions: 92 Euros 
Students: 23 Euros
Don Ritchie (English text) – [email protected]
· Future conferences, meetings, and other announcements: 250 words 
· Conference reports: 500 words 
· Archive News: 500 words · New Projects: 1000 words
October 15 – posted to web site in January
April 15 – posted to web site in June

Membership is open to any individual or institution supporting the aims and objectives of the Association. The Association is governed by a Council elected at the General Meeting of the biennial international oral history conference. The President of the Association is Al Thomson, from the United Kingdom and Australia, and current Council members come from Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

For membership forms, go to Membership on the IOHA website. For inquiries e-mail the Association’s treasurer, Almut Leh ([email protected]).

Fees for two-year membership (July 2007 – June 2009)

IOHA Newsletter Guidelines and Deadlines:

Copy is preferred as Microsoft Word attachment. Footnotes included in items should be included only in parentheses and not formatted. Images and illustrations should be scanned at 72dpi, and sent in jpg or pic formats.

Send via e-mail to both co-editors:

Pilar Domínguez (Spanish text)- [email protected]

Maximum Length:


If you change your email address, please notify the IOHA treasurer, Almut Leh [email protected].