Yorkshire started out as a challenge – the internet server at the Sheffield hotel went down and the hire car broke down – horrible!
My first visit in Sheffield was to the Weston Park Museum. I researched excerpts from 5 oral history collections held by the museum: Bungreave Corner Shops (on new communities established in Sheffield such as Somalian residents), Sheffield during the Second World War, Working Lives (an oral history of the last traditional steel grinder in Sheffield), George and Joyce Burton (memories of a long term family business) and various people talking about an enormous and innovative housing estate at Park Hill.
I was also able to get the complete Bungreave Voices – Celebrating People and Place; a community oral history project, an excellent model of a text based oh project with internet links and downloadable education pack.
The benefits of combining images with audio was reinforced here. Also, I learned a technique for converting local slang, idiom and accent into widely recognisable language. This is particularly useful for the TAFE project second language interviewees.
I was feeling a little glum when I set out for my visit to Sheffield Local Studies Library and Sheffield Archives because some details I needed were stored in my Favourites file and I couldn’t access that with my internet server down and I couldn’t find an internet cafe. British regional oral history collections are held in the same buildings as the vast collections of personal, local, legal, building, church, business, hospital, map, newspaper etc records so I was understandably worried about my research. However the first archivist I approached was the person I’d been in contact with! How about that – over 3000 employees and 300 library staff and my first contact referred to our emails! My visits were very productive. Highlights included learning more on how to format a transcription, advertising oh projects and tape conversion to CD.
Manchester City Library Local Studies Archives was another opportunity to access a range of collections. Two that stood out were queerupnorth on the establishment of Manchester’s famous festival and Speaking for Ourselves, on Sikh history. The festival archive included images, text, art, music and meetings from minutes as well as recordings. This is encouraging because the TAFE site includes songs and artwork. I also checked the length of recordings in a community intergenerational project and found the audio files ranged from 4 minutes to 9 hours!
It never ceases to amaze me how much Britain values the past. Old books and documents are read on giant grey book cushions, snakes and supports and in Manchester CDs and transcripts are packaged in folders tied with ribbon.
I was meant to go to Manchester People’s History Museum but building work which should have been finished was not. I searched the web to see if there was anyting else I could do and I found a day course on interviewing for family history at the University of Manchester. Luck! I booked in because I thought it would give useful info for school students doing the oral history elective which mostly includes interviewing familymembers. One of the trainers was a BBC journalist and amongst a lot of good hints she told us how BBC journalists keep interviewees on track (some a little devious!). The day ended up being very worthwhile and applicable to the TAFE project.
Also in Manchester I went to the Museum of Science and Industry. Apart from seeing the archives I spoke with one of the curators who gave me some exciting leads to follow up.
As you can see I am having a wonderfully productive time.