Happy birthday, Metro!

August 11th 2020 marks the 40th anniversary of the Tyne and Wear Metro. In this Lug Post, Andy Clark confesses to his enthusiasm for all things railway-related and discusses a new oral history project that NOHUC are supporting on forty years of the Metro.

The iconic Metro ‘M’ at Four Lane Ends Interchange. Author’s picture
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‘I never knew which school I was going to be in’: Disrupted education in World War Two

Over ten years ago, Liz O’Donnell recorded the memories of more than 40 people in the North East who, as children during the 2nd World War, had experienced the huge dislocation caused by mass evacuation. Current discussions about the damaging impact of disrupted education caused by the pandemic led her to dig out her research notes, to look at the evacuees’ recollections of their own disturbed schooling, especially their feelings about its long-term effects. All the examples here are of evacuation to villages in Northumberland, mostly from the industrial areas of Tyneside. Summaries and recordings of all the interviews are available at Northumberland Archives, Woodhorn.

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Preserving the voices of engineering: The Common Room of the Great North

The Common Room of the Great North was established in 2017 to manage the redevelopment and refurbishment of The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers in Newcastle. The group was awarded £4.1m from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, plus a further £3m in match funding, to conserve the Grade II*  listed building, refurbish its ground floor reading rooms, securely house its archive and collections and enhance its conferencing facilities. In this Lug post, Programme and Engagement Manager Emily Tench discusses the history of the building, its collections, and the future ambitions of The Common Room.

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Poverty, Covid-19 and Hope

The Oral History Collective is part of a growing movement of researchers and civil society groups whose work shines a light on the misery inflicted by the UK Government’s welfare ‘reforms’ since 2010. Our Foodbank Histories research comes out of a belief that poverty has a past, and that the current rise of foodbanks needs to be understood in its historical context. This context also sheds light on the Government’s current policy approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, which is in alignment with their approach to social policy over the past decade. Indeed, the horror expressed by many over the Government’s initial (now rejected) ‘take it on the chin’ approach to Coronavirus is a familiar feeling for many on the front line of dealing with the fall-out of a wide range of social policies. In this blog post, Alison Atkinson-Phillips argues that the utilitarian beliefs of the 19th Century continue to have an impact today, and argues for a bit of hope.

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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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Collected Voices: Oral Histories contextualising archives

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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Digital humanities and oral history: Seminar series

The Oral History Collective’s Seminar Series brings scholars to Newcastle so we can learn about their work on a range of interesting project and topics. Primarily, though, the seminar series allows us to explore methodological questions. In June, Anisa Puri visits to talk about Australian Generations: Creating a Digital Oral History Project. It’s got Alison Atkinson-Phillips thinking about the relationship between oral history and digital humanities (and digital culture here at Newcastle). 

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Reflecting on ‘Voices from the Picket Line’: Vox Pops

You may have heard that some UK universities, including Newcastle, are involved in a pensions dispute (see https://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/newcastle-durham-university-strikes-begin-14323108 for just one of the Chronicle articles on this issue).

As oral historians, we are always interested in hearing people’s voices–literally as well as figuratively. We knew that the experience of 14 days of striking had been a significant one for many other those involved–we knew through our own informal conversations, through Twitter posts (see the #USSstrikes hashtag for some of this), and indeed through our own varied experiences. But when we decided, on Monday 12 March, that we would take our recording equipment the next day’s picket, we had no idea what was about to happen.

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Recording of Portelli: ‘Reflecting on a life in progress and the stories of oral history’

Reflecting on a life in progress and the stories of oral history

Professor Portelli at the launch of the Oral History Unit and Collective at Newcastle, 10 January 2018.

Professor Portelli at the launch of the Oral History Unit and Collective at Newcastle, 10 January 2018.

To relisten to Alessandro Portelli’s recent lecture, please click here.