Oral History and Museums

For my first essay I will explore oral history in museums, this use of oral history is the first time I really came into contact with oral history, let alone its usage in public history. The essay will address the practical problems of using this method, such as what form to use it in, audio or visual. Then once this has been decided there are a whole other plethora of practical choices and problems which are encountered, such as how will they listen to it? Will sound bleeding occur? Does it need context? Does it add or detract to the rest of the items on display? And also are the interviews themselves any good and do the public actually engage with it? Good use of oral history in museums can massively impact upon the audience for a variety of reasons and can enhance their experience. So, when well planned and executed using oral history in museums can be an extremely fruitful venture. This essay will explore these problems and benefits as well as using case study examples of oral history in museums to demonstrate such points.


Hopes and Concerns: Evacuees during the Second World War

My main aim to get out of this interview is not only what life was like as an evacuee, the experience of wartime London before being evacuated and then the stories, memories of life as an evacuee, but also the importance that this experience had in an individuals life, and if it shaped their ideas, opinions or life in any way. As mentioned in my previous post this was a great social migration and mobilisation on a scale never seen in Britain before and I am interested if my interviewee would have any thoughts on this or if it may highlight class status and social change and how it may or may not influenced her life.

My main concerns fall on me as an interviewer, mainly I am concerned that I won’t be asking the right questions or the questions that I do have will not cover the breadth of this topic, which can span far, to find out as much information and details and nuances of her life as an evacuee. Additionally I think that maybe my ability to listen actively and think of questions, or go back to points later, may mean that some further good avenues of enquiry may be missed; but I am not too concerned about this currently as it is my first oral history interview and of course my interviewing skills and abilities will be new. On the whole though I am excited for the interview and I know that building a rapport with my interviewee, Elaine, will not be an issue as I have met her two or three times already through my grandparents and she is a very friendly, welcoming and chatty person. So I am sure that she will have plenty to say and many stories to tell!


Evacuees during the Second World War , the first social experiment?

I intended to interview a friend of my grandmother’s who was a child during the Second World War, living in London, and as a result was soon evacuated. I would like to explore this further as it resonates with my grandmother’s wartime experiences as she too was an evacuee and her stories always fascinated me; so the opportunity to hear about and explore another person’s experience of this interests me deeply.

Whilst there has been much telling and retelling of such evacuees experiences each individual experience of this event is just that, individual. Everyone will have different reactions  emotions and emotions which they felt at the time but also how they feel about it now, how they look upon this event in their life.

Additionally the evacuation of mainly working class children from London to more affluent middle class families in the countryside was one of the greatest (unintentional) social experiments in the country, the the conservative well to do families were often shocked at the gap of the prevalent social gap between the middle and working classes. For the children to it was often a culture shock, moving from crowded industrial towns to the countryside and encountering things they had never seen before. Again all of the experiences of this cultural and social change and shock are different and this gives us the chance to hear her experiences of this, of her opinions, and even if she agrees with this view.