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Thirty Years of Oral History in Leicestershire & Rutland

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Thirty Years of Oral History in Leicestershire & Rutland

2013 is the 30th anniversary of the start of the formal collecting of oral history in Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland. Market Harborough Museum started recording oral histories at almost exactly the same time as the Leicester Oral History Archive and the two projects, one taking in both the city and the two counties, the other concentrating on the Harborough area, were pioneering projects that led the way for other groups in the next three decades.

Early Days

Before oral history recordings there had been two main sources of sound recordings in the region. The Leicester Tape Club recorded many events and musical programmes from the mid-1950s onwards and BBC Radio Leicester started in 1967, and continues recording the voices of the region to this day. However, there are always a few one-offs and the University of Leicester has a recording of Sir Robert Martin from 1956 talking about his native Leicestershire.

The Leicester Tape Club features in a series of programmes by Mark Vernon - http://www.meagreresource.com/archive/tape.html

A brief clip from BBC Radio Leicester's opening broadcast is at the start of this vodeo - http://youtu.be/ZrFRri5tX7o

Can you do better? Are there any recordings from Leicestershire or Rutland from before the 1950s?

The 1980s/90s

The Leicester Oral History Archive (LOHA) was started by Ned Newitt as part of a degree course and was originally called the Industrial & Social History Project. This received funding from the Manpower Services Commission (MSC) and was also run by Shirley Aucott and then Siobhan Kirrane who closed the Archive in 1990 due to a lack of funding. Throughout this period Steph Mastoris was supervising the recordings at Harborough Museum. In Coalville, the Mantle Oral History Project started in 1986 in the Springboard Centre and ran into the 1990s.

A list of edited cassettes produced by the LOHA - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/schools/teachers/schoolloan.html

The Mantle Oral History Project's book 'Getting the Coal' is now available for Kindle - http://www.amazon.co.uk/Getting-The-Coal-Community-ebook/dp/B009P3ZDVO/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1350903488&sr=8-10

A video of Bardon village made at the time of Mantle's book 'Marking Time: Voices from Bardon' - http://youtu.be/I1sSWlVWpLc

After a gap of a few years the City Council started the Living History Unit in 1993, run by Cynthia Brown and Angela Cutting. This became the Community History Unit and gradually ran out of steam with the retirement of Angela in the 2000s. As well as creating over 200 new recordings the Unit produced many excellent books. Details of some of the books produced by the Living History Unit are here - http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/community/books.html - and some of them can be bought at the New Walk Museum in Leicester.

The 2000s/10s

By 2000 there were a large number of recordings from around the region that were sitting in boxes and not being used or looked after. A partnership between the Centre for Urban History at the University of Leicester, Leicester City Council & Leicestershire County Council gained heritage lottery funding to create the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA). Managed by Cynthia Brown, the Archive digitised and catalogued all the recordings created up to the early 2000s. It also took in the reel to reel tape archive of Radio Leicester.

Lottery funding ended in 2004 and, with the support of the Centre and the University, Colin Hyde now runs the archive and continues the work that was first started 30 years ago. Have a look round this website for an idea of what EMOHA has been doing for the last 12 years!

Tea and Cake

In September 2014 a number of people who have worked with the projects mentioned above gathered at the Centre for Urban History for a small celebration. From left to right are: Shirley Aucott (Leicester Oral History Archive), Tony Mitchell (Leicester Oral History Archive), Ned Newitt (Leicester Oral History Archive), Cynthia Brown (Living History Unit & EMOHA), Vince Holyoak (Living History Unit), Jeanne Carswell (Leicester Oral History Archive & Mantle Oral History Project), and Colin Hyde (Leicester, Mantle, Living History & EMOHA).

This group represents only a few of the many people who, either as solo authors or as part of oral history projects with other colleagues, have produced a huge number of books, exhibitions, cassettes, CDs, newsletters, websites, videos etc. over the past three decades. Thanks are due to everyone who has contributed to oral history in Leicestershire & Rutland in this time and best wishes should be offered to all those who are going to press a record button for the first time at some point over the next 30 years.

Image of people celebrating 30 years of oral history



Last updated: 26/09/14
East Midland Oral History Archive Web maintainer
This document has been approved by the head of department or section.

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