29 October 2010
An introduction to oral history
The British Library has had a department for its Oral History collection since 1988 though collecting in the area predates this. The collections cover an extensive range of subjects covering major aspects of British history in the 20th century including the arts, science, politics, industry, women’s history and Jewish history.
The Oral History team, composed of curators, cataloguers and project interviewers, will contribute to the ‘Sound Recordings’ blog to discuss aspects of the team’s daily work and to give insights into the challenges of interview preparation, digital recording and technology, digital preservation, cataloguing, and making oral history interviews available. We will also use the blog to provide updates on current projects run by the Oral History team and National Life Stories (NLS), an independent trust within the oral history section of the Sound Archive, though one of our newest projects, An Oral History of British Science, has an independent History of Science blog. NLS produces an Annual Review every Spring, an e-version can be viewed from here. More about NLS personnel, including our project interviewers, Trustees, Advisors and freelance workers, can be found on our NLS who’s who pages.
Selected recordings from NLS projects and oral history collections (including Artists’ Lives, Architects Lives’ and Living Memory of the Jewish Community) are available on the Archival Sound Recordings (ASR) website through the oral history package. You can also listen to edited extracts from Artists’ Lives, recently published on the double CD ‘Connecting Lines: Artists Talk About Drawing’ which was distributed to aid the teaching of art and design in higher education. The tracks have been grouped into eight themed ‘clusters’ and can be accessed here. To increase the accessibility of our collections we will shortly be adding further recordings to the ASR website, including the George Ewart Evans Collection, one of the founding oral history collections in Britain, and An Oral History of British Science.