Oral History

What is an oral history?

An oral history is a recording made of someone talking about their life, or an aspect of their life, to an experienced interviewer. Histories are recorded in quiet places, one to one, either in people’s homes or at other specified locations. Oral histories are valuable snapshots of life from a certain period in the interviewee’s life, or about a particular event or events. A professional oral historian will help interviewees talk about their lives in a natural and interesting way, encouraging even the most reticent subject to open up.

How I became an oral historian

When I was carrying out research for Lakeland Arts, where I produced scripts for their augmented reality interpretation, I read two oral history transcripts. The original recordings had been made in the 1970s, one by a maid who worked at Blackwell during the Great War, the other from the gardener’s daughter who lived at Blackwell during the Edwardian period. The vividness of the two women’s voices prompted me to seek other transcripts and recordings just for the joy of hearing about the interesting lives of ordinary people. Thus my love of oral history was born.

Creating an oral history for you and your family

We can remember our older relatives, we can tell stories about them and go into great detail about who they were and what they were like, from our point of view. An oral history allows their voices to be heard from their own points of view. Parents and grandparents can be remembered by us in sharper focus, and can come alive in a very personal way to future generations.

Trained by the Oral History Society, and with experience of managing projects for the National Trust and Woodland Trust, in addition to interviewing for the Ambleside Oral History Group, I can provide a personal oral history package for you and your family. Recordings are made using a Zoom Hn4 Pro recorder. After the interview, an audio .WAV file and a PDF transcript will be provided for you to keep. I travel throughout England, Scotland and Wales to interview for oral histories.