About Alison

Alison Atkinson-Phillips is an oral history research associate within the School of History at Newcastle University.

Oral History in 2018: What did we learn?

The Newcastle Oral History Unit and Collective is celebrating its first full year of operation with our Annual Public Lecture in March. As with any new venture, it has been a year of learning, and an important part of that has been figuring out where we fit into the world of oral history. To help us with that, we made sure at least one member attended each of the four large oral history conferences held in Europe and North America in 2018*, to get a sense of the ‘state of the field’ that we are a part of. So, what have we learned?

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“I was born poor, and I will die poor”: Reflections on disability, ill health and poverty in the age of Universal Credit

This Disability History Month, Silvie Fisch, director of Northern Cultural Projects and associate researcher with the Oral History Unit & Collective, shares some of the stories she heard during our Foodbank Histories project and reflects on the interconnections between disability, ill health and poverty in the age of Universal Credit.

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Foodbank Histories meets the United Nations

When the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Extreme Poverty visited the Newcastle West End Foodbank in Wednesday, the Oral History Collective was invited along to share some of the research findings from our six-month Foodbank Histories project, a partnership with Northern Cultural Projects. This work is also part of the Being Human festival, 15-24 Nov. So why is it important?

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Oral History Unit & Collective to host national Oral History gathering

We are excited to be hosting oral historians from around the UK for the annual Oral History Society (OHS) regional networkers’ gathering next weekend. The event will begin on Friday 26 October with a special seminar from Dr Rob Perks, director of National Life Stories at the British Library. Saturday’s program focusses on the challenges and opportunities of partnership working and the afternoon will be opened to non-members.

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Collected Voices

One of the organisational members of our Collective is the Newcastle University Special Collections & Archives team. As part of their commitment to opening up the archive, the Collected Voices project gathers the oral histories of those behind the materials. In this post, literary archivist Rachel Hawkes gives us an insight into their work.  

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Report: Oral History & Creative Practice ‘Show and Tell’

The interaction between oral history and creative practice has been a key topic of conversation at the Oral History Collective. In this post, Bruce Davenport reflects on the conversations emerging from our recent Show and Tell workshop. 

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News: New media brings Booker interviews out from the archive

A new film from the British Library features clips from an oral history interview by the Oral History Unit’s Sue Bradley. ‘Behind the Scenes: The Man Booker Prize — Stories from the British Library’s archive‘ is an audio-visual montage created by British Library interviewer Sarah O’Reilly, with voices from in-depth interviews recorded for National Life Stories.

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Using imagination to connect with the recent and deep past

For many – maybe most – of us, imagination is what gets us interested in history in the first place. Recently, the oral history collective have been having a lot of conversations about the connections between oral history and creative practice, including creative interpretation of history. In this post, Alison Atkinson-Phillips takes us on a winding journey of reflection on oral history and imagination, and offers a round-up of some local examples. 

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Introducing Sue Bradley, our third Research Associate

Sue Bradley joined Oral History @ Newcastle as our third Research Associate in February this year. Sue is an experienced oral historian and was instrumental in developing a network of like-minded researchers at the university before the Oral History Unit came along. Her first project has been to work with Special Collections at the Philip Robinson Library to develop shared processes for the collection and archiving of oral histories. Having worked in the Centre for Rural Economy for the past ten years, Sue brings a non-urban focus to the unit’s work.

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We are searching for voices from region’s shipbuilding past

Full Media Release: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/press/articles/latest/2018/08/saveourshipyardshistory/

Voices from a historic campaign to save the North East’s shipyards are being sought in a bid to remember the real life experiences of those involved.

The Oral History Unit’s Dr Alison Atkinson-Phillips wants to track down people who took part in the ‘Save our Shipyards’ campaign that took place from 1983-84 in a bid to stop the closure of yards on the Tyne and Wear. Workers from Swan Hunter on the Tyne and Austin & Pickersgill on the Wear, their families, union leaders and local politicians, were interviewed for two short films known collectively as the ‘Shipyard Tapes’.

The first film ‘The Price of Ships’ explains the economics of the global shipping industry, highlights the strengths of the yards on the Tyne and the Wear and argues for further government support. The second film ‘Down the Road Again’ warns of the dangers of the yards returning to private ownership, cautioning that it risked returning to the type of unsecure, casual labour that shipbuilding was known for before nationalisation.

Originally commissioned by the Tyne and Wear County Council, the two twenty minute films have been preserved and are part of the collections of North East Film Archive, who are working with Newcastle University on the project.

Email oralhistory@newcastle.ac.uk for more information.