University of Leicester eBulletin

A Showcase for Oral History

May 2003
No 143

Internet users around the globe can now hear the authentic voices of East Midlands people thanks to a new involvement with a world-first project.

The East Midlands Oral History Archive at the University of Leicester is having many of its recordings digitised and published on the web as part of The Showcase, the world's first streaming media archive of radio, TV, film and video programmes, sound recordings, Internet projects and training materials from the community media sector.

The Showcase has been developed by the Community Media Association and offers access to both fiction and non-fiction programmes in a variety of languages, made by individuals, community groups or organisations from all over the UK and beyond.  Issues covered include: war and peace; the arts; disability; black and ethnic minority perspectives; gender issues; local history; human rights; health; storytelling and many more. Moreover, as an aid for users in education, subjects, where relevant, can be searched under UK National Curriculum subject headings.

"Oral history recordings offer a unique record of the country's history and we are pleased to be able to make a number of recordings directly available to the public by working with the Community Media Association," said Tristram Hooley of the East Midlands Oral History Archive. "We have selected a number of our most interesting recordings on topics such as the Second World War, the Blackshirts in the 1930s, miner's lives and the experience of migrants from the Indian sub-continent. These recordings give the listener the opportunity to hear about history directly from the people who experienced it."

This new website showcases the views of people in local communities from diverse cultural and economic backgrounds - voices which may otherwise be unheard. It includes programmes from ethnic minorities, rural communities, young offenders, people with disabilities and many other groups. The archive is non-profit making and free. There is no charge for programmes or training materials for non-commercial purposes. Furthermore, for the first time, multimedia programmes will be available to those on low bandwidth as well as broadband, allowing everyone to stream or download material in a way that suits their Internet connection.

The Showcase is run by the Community Media Association, the UK national membership organisation for community radio, TV and Internet projects. It represents 260 organisations across all the nations and regions. The CMA (formerly the Community Radio Association) was founded in 1983. A non-profit organisation, it was set up to support a third sector of community media services alongside the BBC and commercial broadcasters. It seeks to promote the right to communicate, to provide access to training, production and distribution facilities and to encourage local creative talent. It also aims to provide a right of access to minority groups and to promote and protect cultural and linguistic diversity. Further information at http://www.commedia.org.uk.

The East Midlands Oral History Archive is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund to establish the first large-scale archive of oral history recordings for Leicestershire & Rutland. This includes the collections of the former Leicester Oral History Archive, the Mantle archive from North West Leicestershire, the Community History archive of Leicester City Libraries, and the sound archive of BBC Radio Leicester, along with smaller collections donated by local organisations or individuals.

The recordings are deposited in the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester & Rutland, and are currently being catalogued to make them more accessible. The project now has an online catalogue at http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha/catalogue.html, and has produced a CD of edited extracts from the recordings on the theme of toys and games. EMOHA also aims to generate new oral history recordings through its own programme of interviewing, and by providing advice, training and support for community groups, museums and heritage organisations, students and other individuals who are interested in developing their own projects.

EMOHA is a partnership between the Centre for Urban History at the University of Leicester, the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland (ROLLR), and Leicester City Museums and Library Services.

Images: The Community Media Association, The Showcase and University of Leicester logos are available by contacting Tristram Hooley at the address below. The East Midlands Oral History Archive also has an extensive database of historical images for use with this story. Contact Tristram to discuss your needs.

Contact details :

Tristram Hooley , East Midlands Oral History Archive , Centre for Urban History , University of Leicester LE1 7RH , telephone 0116 252 5065 , emoha@le.ac.uk, http://www.le.ac.uk/emoha

Diane Rodgers , Community Media Association , 15 Paternoster Row , Sheffield S1 2BX , telephone 0114 279 5219, diane@commedia.org.uk

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Last updated: May 2003
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