University of Leicester celebrates largest online collection of local oral history recordings in the UK

Posted by es328 at Feb 20, 2017 01:32 PM |
‘400 Voices of Leicester’ launch event to celebrate the digitisation of the Leicester Oral History Archive

Issued by the University of Leicester Press Office on 20 February 2017

A free public event to celebrate the publication of over 400 interviews recorded by the Leicester Oral History Archive between 1983 and 1990 will be held at the University of Leicester’s David Wilson Library on 1 March.

The recordings contain memories of Leicester and Leicestershire from the 1890s to the post-war period, covering subjects such as childhood, health, transport, housing, politics, women's lives and the World Wars I and II.

The original interviews were conducted as a project for the Manpower Service Commission, and now form part of the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA).

Work to digitise the interviews was initially carried out during 2010 and 2011 as part of the JISC-funded My Leicestershire History Project.

Between 2016 and 2017 the University Library, in partnership with the East Midlands Oral History Archive, has completed work to add a further 300 interviews to its digitised collection.

This has made the resource the largest online collection of local oral history recordings in the UK.

Professor Julie Coleman, Head of the College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities at the University of Leicester, said: “The East Midlands Oral History Archive is a unique resource for anyone with an interest in the history of Leicester and Leicestershire and in British social history more generally.

“Digitisation means that the archive is now freely available online to anyone who wants to listen to the interviews it contains. We particularly welcome those who have contributed to the archive and their family and friends to this launch event.”

Colin Hyde, manager of the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) added: “When these interviews were recorded no one had heard of the Internet. Originally, the recordings could only be listened to on cassettes, which we thought was pretty high-tech at the time, but technology has come so far since then.

“We are now able to make these oral histories freely available to a world-wide audience via the My Leicestershire History website. For those of us who have been working with oral histories since the 1980s, this is certainly a moment to celebrate.”

The evening will begin with a welcome and introduction by Professor Coleman, followed by Colin Hyde who will discuss oral history in Leicester. Dr Simon Dixon, Archives and Special Collections Manager at the University, will conclude the formal proceedings by explaining the process of digitising the Leicester Oral History Archive.

Formal proceedings will be followed by an opportunity to explore the digitised recordings and other online local history available at the University Library.

The evening will also provide an opportunity to hear about a new Heritage Lottery Funded project to create An Oral History of Post-War Leicester 1945-1962.

The EMOHA is looking for people from all walks of life with good memories of Leicestershire between 1945 and 1962 as well as volunteers to help record them. Anyone who is able to help with this project is encouraged to contact the EMOHA.

With the University of Leicester’s centenary year upcoming, the University would like to encourage anyone with memories of the institution to contact Colin Hyde at the EMOHA in order to create a commemorative record.

The interviews can be accessed via the University of Leicester's Special Collections Online.

The event is free, but advanced registration is required. To reserve your place please visit the 400 Voices of Leicester page on Eventbrite:

The East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) is available here:


Notes to editors:

Colin Hyde of the East Midlands Oral History Archive can be contacted at

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