Coming in from the Cold is about surveying what has happened in terms of recent BME projects and developing a strategy to support further, more targeted work. In order to help future groups to deliver successful oral history projects, I thought I should refresh my knowledge by attending this year’s Oral History Spring School at the Institute for Historical Research in London. The course was led by leading figures in the field and aimed at those with prior knowledge and experience.
It was an intense few days, jam-packed with interesting case studies, ethical questions and differing approaches to collection and analysis. I really enjoyed meeting people from all walks of life – including sociologists, artists, historians and academics – employing the medium of oral history to inspire and further their work. (In particular Paul Thompson, the founding father of Oral History.) The course has renewed my enthusiasm for a subject that’s fascinated me since I was an undergraduate. It highlighted the importance of collecting and reflecting upon marginal voices in society. What makes people and societies behave the way they do? How should events and individuals be remembered and be whom?
Over the years I’ve been lucky enough to work on OH projects about a huge range of subjects including Sheffield’s cutlery industry, migration, Yemeni heritage, Salford Quays, military memories, artist’s lives and race relations. Now I can’t wait for the opportunity to enthuse and engage others.