Alex King, Oral History Cataloguer at the British Library, writes:
Childhood memories and food are two of the principal ingredients of Christmas. Here are the memories of Celia and Thomas Jay (born 1883 and 1884) of school, work and food in the 1890s, which show in passing (around 17 minutes into the recording) how important Christmas could be if you lived as frugally as they did. They were recorded in Suffolk in 1967 by George Ewart Evans, a pioneer of British oral history, who collected an immense diversity of reminiscences of rural East Anglia as it had been in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Last night in Manchester the UK Soundmap won the some comms award for best public sector use of social media. There was some tough competition, including Sussex Safer Roads' superb public information film Embrace Life.
Several people at the British Library have been involved with the UK Soundmap in various ways, either laying the groundwork long before it went online, or else beavering away behind the scenes to keep the website functioning.
Above all, many thanks to all of you who have taken the trouble to record the sounds around you and add them to the UK Soundmap.
The UK Soundmap has now entered its six month and is heading towards 1,200 contributions. Those early recordings from Sheffield in July seem to come from long ago as trains are cancelled and the pavements are packed with snow.
Here are a few recordings from the UK Soundmap which mark the passing of the seasons. The rules can be bent slightly by allowing in one made before the project began, and which was later shared with us by the contributor Wild_Soundscape. It's of a dawn chorus with the intensity typical of late Spring:
High summer brought many seaside recordings, ranging from the blowsy pleasures of piers and amusement arcades to footsteps on shingle beaches and, of course, the sound of the surf. This example was sent in by ermine from Minsmere in Suffolk. The binaural method of recording used makes it particularly rewarding to listen to over headphones.
But the good weather wasn't to last. A couple of contributors provided mute and rueful commentaries on the great British August bank holiday as garden barbecues sputtered out under the inevitable downpours. The autumn winds struck up a bleak song as they roiled through a metal gate in the Shetlands, courtesy of rockscottage:
Fireworks rasped and popped in November, and several people have recorded footsteps stirring piles of fallen leaves. More footsteps have recently begun creaking through snowdrifts, a sound that seems to be felt as much as it is heard. Long-standing contributor sc_r shared this recording of a garden bonfire, the thought of which is now welcome.
An Oral History of British Science, a National Life Stories project, has now been running for just over one year. We have completed 24 interviews with scientists, ranging from zoologists, computer engineers, glaciologists, geophysicists, soil scientists and aeronautical engineers.
The first batch of interviews are now online, available as streamed audio, to a worldwide audience via the ‘Oral history of British science’ package on Archival Sound Recordings (ASR). These interviews (Tony Brooker, Robert Hinde, David Jenkinson, Desmond King-Hele, Charles Swithinbank, Janet Thomson and Geoff Tootill) sit alongside life-story interviews with scientists, including Max Perutz and Joseph Rotblat, which were already available on ASR.
We will be using ASR to provide remote access to the interviews and interview transcripts, and we aim to upload interviews from the project in batches as they are completed. Further updates on the project, including reflections from the Library’s History of Science curator and the project interviewers can be found on the History of Science blog.
An interview recently completed for An Oral History of British Science is one with Sir Maurice Wilkes, one of the pioneers of British computing, who sadly died on 29th November 2010. The interview will be uploaded to ASR shortly, but in the meantime the interview is accessible to British Library readers pass holders via the Sound Archive catalogue.