Last year, Dr Andy Clark was awarded a British Academy / Leverhulme Trust Small Grant to conduct a scoping project on the Lockerbie disaster, 1988. Working with Dr Colin Atkinson, Lecturer in Criminology at UWS, they will conduct interviews with a number of witnesses involved in the aftermath of the disaster. In this Lug post, Andy reflects on how to prepare for such a project. There is an extensive literature on reflections of oral historians once projects have been completed, but in this piece, Andy discusses his thoughts and approaches before beginning the interview process. Continue reading
Foodbank Histories is a collaborative project between Newcastle West End Foodbank, Northern Cultural Projects, and Newcastle University Oral History Unit & Collective. The project began in 2018, recording approximately 30 short oral history interviews with foodbank clients, volunteers, and supporters. Over the past five weeks, PhD candidate Jack Hepworth has completed a short-term placement on Foodbank Histories, funded by the Newcastle University Social Justice Fund. Here he reflects on his experience.
The Oral History Collective is delighted to be associated with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) Living Deltas Hub. As part of a large, multi-disciplinary team, Professor Graham Smith and head of Newcastle University’s School of History, Professor Helen Berry, will lead a team of Research Associates and collaborative partners in history and oral history that will explore popular memories of environmental change across three of the world’s major delta regions. Here Graham reflects on just why the project is so exciting.
In this Lug post, Andy Clark discusses his experience conducting research for the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Justice. Along with a team of researchers, he contributed to, and co-authored, a major report focused on community experiences of Serious Organised Crime in Scotland. He reflects on utilising oral history methods to examine current experiences and problems in relation to organised crime, and contributing to a policy report.
We’ve been getting into movies lately…
Our Alison Atkinson-Phillips has been working with Leeds University to plan the Post-Work Mini Film Season (see bottom of the page for event listing) on behalf of Newcastle’s Labour & Society research group. The films shown explore the way ‘work’ has changed and the impact of deindustrialisation and neoliberalism.
In May, our regular Seminar Series is kicking off with a visit from Steve Humphries of Testimony Films on Tuesday 9 May. Although best known as a film-maker, Humphries is possibly one of the most prolific oral historians in the UK, basing his documentaries on detailed interviews with his sources.
How can oral historians interact with other forms of interviewing, voice recordings and publication of oral sources? In this Lug post, Andy Clark discusses his experiences of interviewing and producing features for BBC Radio Scotland. He considers the differences between this style and his oral history work, and the ways in which oral history training can be advantageous when undertaking broadcasting work.
Here below is the formal advert. But please go the University jobs website and search: work and After.
B89202R – Research Associate (Work and After)
School of History, Classics & Archaeology
Grade: F27 Vacancy Ref: B89202R
CLOSING DATE 23 October 2017
The University continues to build on in its commitment to oral history and has recently appointed a new Professor of Oral History. We are seeking applications for a post created to support the new Professor and to contribute to a growing programme of research relating to oral history. The post will include recording life history interviews that will provide new contexts to our understanding of memories of work, with specific attention to engineering in the first instance, as well as generating oral history data about the history employment, deindustrialisation and attempted regeneration in the North East of England since the Second World War. In addition, the project will investigate the relationship between visual representations of the past and memory. The successful applicant would also participate in the oral history unit’s other initiatives, including digital technologies and linking to oral historians beyond the university. The post is suitable to applicants skilled in oral history.
Main Duties and Responsibilities
1. To undertake literature reviews
2. To collect and analyse oral histories
3. To prepare oral history materials for archiving
4. To contribute to writing for publications
5. To contribute to preparation of funding applications
6. To contribute to the project’s public engagement agenda
7. To present results as required at local, national or international conferences
8. To engage with relevant stakeholders, including working with at least one community group in the region
9. To attend meetings and other events as appropriate
10. To identify, in collaboration with senior staff, and undertake a programme of professional development, including further training in oral history theories and methods and other transferable skills
11. To contribute to activities associated with the running and administration of the unit, or perform other duties, as required by the unit’s Director
Research Role Profile
As part of our commitment to career development for research staff, the University has developed 3 levels of research role profiles. These profiles set out firstly the generic competences and responsibilities expected of role holders at each level and secondly the general qualifications and experiences needed for entry at a particular level. It is unlikely that any single member of staff will be applying all these competences at any one time but he or she would be expected to display most of them over a period of time. Please follow this link to our Research Role Profiles
Newcastle University Oral History Collective
The successful applicant will join a rapidly growing and dynamic group of highly interdisciplinary researchers who are using oral history methods at Newcastle University. The wider grouping includes colleagues from History, English, Archaeology, Media, Culture and Heritage, the Unit of Health and Society, the Business School, the Centre for Rural Economy, Geography and Education, Communication and Language Sciences. The successful applicant will have the opportunity to help build on Newcastle’s strengths in relation to oral history and to respond to some of the most important questions arising from the uses of oral history. This includes addressing questions relating to individual and collective memory, the relationship of oral history to biography and history, representativeness and generalisability, intersubjectivity, orality, social identity, and memory and ageing. We are also interested in the challenges of digital archiving, making collections accessible and reuse, and innovative uses of oral histories in communicating history to the wider public.
Oral history in Newcastle is in a particularly exciting phase of development. The University has made a substantial investment in oral history. As well as a Chair in Oral History, there is funding for two three-year Research Associate posts. This core team, based in History, will form a research focus not only for the wider University grouping, but with at least one community oral history organisation in the North East.
This Research Associate post is a newly created position to work with the Professor of Oral History, appointed in 2017, and a second Research Associate. The post holder will work both with the new Professor and with other staff on issues relating to oral history collection, analysis, archiving and dissemination. More specifically, the post holder will research the history of employment after 1945 using oral histories along with visual sources. Particular attention will be paid to engineering in North-East England. This post will be attractive to individuals who already have an interest and track record in research relating to oral history and the history of work, deindustrialisation and/or regeneration. Excellent knowledge and experience of oral history research designs, including archiving, is preferred. However, the post is open to candidates with proven strengths in oral history more generally.
Knowledge (including qualifications)
- PhD in a relevant discipline
- Undergraduate degree in a relevant subject
- History of employment in post-1945 Britain
Skills (professional, technical, managerial, practical)
- Excellent (written and verbal) communication skills
- Ability to maintain confidentiality
- Ability to work flexibly and co-operatively with others, but also to work independently
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- IT literate
- Ability to prioritise key tasks
- Ability to meet deadlines and to manage conflicting priorities
- Innovative and flexible in approach
- Ability to present results of analyses
- Success in writing research papers for publication in peer-reviewed journals
Experience and Achievements
- Experience in history of engineering or science or history of medicine, labour history or business history
- Experience of oral history collection and analysis
- Experience of carrying out research within agreed timelines, meeting project milestones and producing work to an appropriate standard
- Experience of contributing to funding applications
- Experience of collaborating with third sector and non-academic stakeholders
- Experience of using oral history in public history settings including in on-line and in museums
- Experience in video oral history
- Experience of using visual historical sources
- Experience of working in social media
- Experience in using oral history in relation to other data types
- Experience of methods of co-production addressing questions of shared and sharing authority
- Experience of archiving oral histories, especially born digital collections
- Experience of developments in reusing oral histories
- Experience of analytical (qualitative) and web page software
- Success in securing funding for research
Last week Matt Perry and I visited the Old Low Light Heritage Centre. Matt along with Sarah Campbell teaches oral history on the second year undergraduate module, Oral History and Memory. I’ll be writing more about the module next week, but want to acknowledge that our oral history teaching more broadly relies on community and institutional partners like the Old Low Light. So thank you to David Bavaird, chair of Trustees, Pearl Pearl Saddington, Community, Heritage and Events Manager, and Guy Moody, Operations Manager for their guidance and offers of help.
The Old Low Light is a fascinating community history venue. Give it a visit if you are in the area – they are a hospitable bunch and the exhibitions are great.
Many of the exhibits are a result of co-production between Centre staff and members of the local community. Much talked about, but much less practiced, co-production is neither easy nor quickly achieved. What is particularly striking about the approach at Old Low Light is the variety of ways that Centre staff have worked with volunteers and the rich range of outcomes that have been achieved. As well as a permanent exhibition to commercial fishing in the area, there are co-curated paintings, photography from ex-shipyard workers and my favourites: the memory table (the table itself was salvaged from a trawler) and a short video of fishing memories.
The Centre also features a series of talks and events throughout the year.
I’m looking forward to developing our partnership with the Centre.
Graham Smith, 21 September, 2017
I am now in post as the Unit’s Professor of Oral History and involved in recruiting two researchers. I’ve been shortlisting with the Head of History for the first researcher post. There were 32 applications in total. The overall quality of applicants was exceptionally high and I’m very much looking forward to interviewing those we have shortlisted early next month.
I have also started to make contact with oral historians in the region and reports on these meetings will follow.
Graham Smith, 19 September 2017.