What is oral history?
"Oral history is history for the people by the people"
Interviewing is the most fundamental part of oral history. There are two kinds – the life history interview and the thematic interview. The former involves the interviewee recalling memories of their life from childhood to old age, and the latter is more specific and requires more detailed research. The essential skills of the interviewer are patience, sensitivity, warmth and a genuine interest in the person and the subject, with the capacity to gently guide a person’s recollections so that they form a coherent and relatively chronological result. We are privileged to share in the stories of local people, and to collect them for posterity, where otherwise these memories would be lost.
A transcript is a word for word copy of an interview. Such accuracy is necessary in order to capture the character and personality of the interviewee, and to retain a sense of time and place so that the immediacy and authority of the spoken word is not lost, when the memories are transposed into publications, theses and plays. Transcribing can be a time consuming process, it can take several hours to transcribe one hour of tape, but it is an excellent way to familiarise yourself with oral history. The spoken word remains the actual oral testimony, the transcript is a written translation.
Subjects covered in our collection include -
Acomb, Adoption, Albany Hall, Alma Terrace Mission, Barges, Bedern School, Being in Service, Betting Shops, Bishophill, Blue Coat School, Boxing, Boy Scouts, Butchers, Canadians in York, Canaries, Catholicism, Cattle Market, Cawood, Childhood, Christmas, Cinemas, Cooke Troughton and Sims, Courtship and Marriage, Cycling Clubs, Dancing, De Grey Rooms, Dringhouses, the Empire Theatre, Elvington, Farming, Ferries, First World War, Fishergate School, Football, Fulford, Gala, the Groves, Hairdressing, Haughton School, Health, Heslington, Heworth, Housework, Hungate, Irish Community, Knavesmire, Leeman Road, Military Sunday, Mill Mount School, Music, Nursing, Pacifism, Pawnbrokers, Police Force, Poppleton Road, Priory Street School, Pubs in York, RAF, Railway and Carriageworks, the Rialto, the Riverside, Rowntree's, George Russell the Gardener, Second World War, Shambles, Shopping, South Bank, Sport, St Clement’s School (Cherry Street), St Denys Church, St George’s Church and School, St Saviourgate, Street Parties, Sunday School, Swimming, Tang Hall, Terry's, Trade Unions, Trams, Walmgate, Women’s Issues, Workhouse, Working Men’s Clubs, York Arms, York Market, York Races and Yorkshire Evening Press.