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Agriculture in Lincolnshire

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Summary of Agricultural Oral History Projects in Lincolnshire

The Society for Lincolnshire History and Archaeology began a survey of Oral History Collections held in the county in 2004, which is still ongoing and incomplete, but which proved to be a useful starting point primarily for collections held by Lincolnshire County Council. From this audit museums, libraries and archives were contacted and appropriate interviews listened to, and where possible summaries or transcripts taken. It is possible to summarise that work has been done across the county by LCC Heritage Services, but in a piecemeal fashion with varying degree of success.

The only projects specifically aimed at recording 20th Century Agriculture and rural life have been undertaken by Church Farm Museum Skegness in a series of small scale projects, beginning with one to look at harvest memories in the 1980s, and then recording of rural trades, life around Skegness and finally a project to start a community archive in 2003. The final project was started by Ruth Walker and Abi Hunt with £5000 funding from EMMLAC, however on a recent visit to survey the collections it was apparent that after these staff left the museum work was discontinued. There were a few transcriptions, and most material was on tape or minidisk.

Stamford Museum have also undertaken some work that relates to industries in the town driven by agriculture and this is easily available and transcribed. There are several items relating to agriculture held at the Museum of Lincolnshire Life, although they appear to have issues with identifying ownership of the material due to a lack of associated paperwork and there are no transcriptions, although collections are available to listen to. Central Library had no transcriptions for Oral History collections relating to agriculture, but collections are available to listen to.   

The Lincolnshire Sound Archive, managed by Chris Frear, (formally Butterfield) was also approached. This database is available online and has recordings primarily from the north of the county, with some transcriptions available. One point to note is that this is a private collection that was once held in the county, but is now held in Scotland.

In the 1980s the WEA ran a course in Boston that was titled the Lincolnshire Women’s Research Group, and involved the recording and archiving of women’s lives in rural Lincolnshire, including oral histories. This archive is held at the Women’s Library in London and should be accessible in autumn 2006 when it has been catalogued.          

The British Library holds the Millennium Memory Bank Project archives, which include several interviews focusing on agriculture from across the county. Comprehensive interview summaries are available online, although transcriptions could not be accessed, and recordings can be listened to at the British Library.    

Main findings from this exercise were:

  • The SLHA survey is still incomplete as several collections are not listed, including those held in Lincolnshire County Council Museums.
  • Several small collections are scattered across the county.
  • There is no uniform level of access to collections.
  • Few recordings are properly catalogued and transcribed.
  • Some storage was not appropriate for collections.
  • There are at least two important collections held outside of the county.
  • Very little work has been done to create projects primarily focusing on Lincolnshire’s agriculture. Projects appear to be piecemeal and unfocused on particular subjects.
  • Collections did not appear to be being used by those holding them.

These findings mean that:

  • The SLHA’s work is a good starting point for identifying Oral History Collections, and would be invaluable if complete.
  • Access to Oral History recordings in Lincolnshire is challenging! Researchers have to be prepared to drive to locations across the county, may not be able to use some collections due to ownership issues, and in many cases cannot view transcriptions or summaries to identify if interviews hold the information they are looking for.
  • Due to storage and administrative issues collections are not being utilised, which in essence means time and energy spent developing this resource has been wasted. 
  • Important collections are held in locations such as London; Lincolnshire’s heritage is leaving the county!

This survey was undertaken during summer 2005 and a brief summary produced for the University of Lincoln.


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Last updated: 21/04/09
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