Sound and vision blog

05 November 2010

Acquisition of oral history recordings

For the second oral history post on the ‘Sound Recordings’ blog I thought I’d give an introduction to the three ways that we acquire oral history material: through deposit; through fieldwork projects undertaken both by the Library's oral history section and National Life Stories; and also through external partnership projects. 

Recent additions to the oral history collections through deposit include the British Brass Musicians collection (collection number C1395) and the Chinese in Britain Radio Interviews (C1353).  Collections such as these are created and collected by external organisations and later deposited with the Library.  A key selection criteria is that a collection needs to be national in scope, whereas local projects would be referred to a local archive.  

The majority of the more recent oral history acquisitions are those accessioned through the projects run by National Life Stories, the charitable trust based within the British Library oral history section.  National Life Stories was established in 1987 and has been based within the British Library since 1988.  It runs a number of projects including Artists’ Lives (C466), Architects’ Lives (C467), Authors’ Lives (C1276), An Oral History of the Water Industry (C1364) and An Oral History of British Science (C1379) to name a few.  For more information on NLS projects, past and active, please visit the National Life Stories web pages.

We also acquire collections through external partnership projects, which may be academic research projects or community-based projects.  Recently acquired collections include ‘Unheard Voices: interviews with deafened people’ (C1345) and ‘Overseas Trained South Asian Geriatricians Interviews’ (C1356). ‘Unheard Voices’ was a Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) funded project conducted by Hearing Concern LINK, a charity that provides information and support for those with hearing loss and their family members.  Sarah Smith, project co-ordinator for at Hearing Concern LINK wrote about the project in Playback 42.  ‘Overseas Trained South Asian Geriatricians Interviews’ is a collection comprising the interviews from an ESRC funded research project ‘Overseas Trained South-Asian Doctors and the Development of Geriatric Medicine Project’, carried out by Professor Joanna Bornat, Dr Parvati Raghuram and Dr Leroi Henry at the Open University.  The research project reanalysed the 'Oral History of Geriatrics as a Medical Speciality' collection, an earlier research project carried out by Professor Margot Jefferys which is also archived at the British Library ‘Oral History of Geriatrics as a Medical Speciality’ (C512).  The interviews from both Unheard Voices and Overseas Trained South Asian Geriatricians Interviews are now catalogued and accessible to listeners on-site at the British Library.   To find out how to listen visit the Listening & Viewing Service webpage.

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