A week in sound: volunteering with UOSH

Blog post by Hannah Tame

After attending the Archives for London talk ‘London Unspooled: Sounds from the Strongrooms’ at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) back in May, I really wanted to learn more about sound archives and get involved in the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) project. I particularly wanted to get some hands-on experience with both digitising and cataloguing audio material. I got in touch with Kate at LMA and was thrilled when they agreed to have me for a week’s placement.

My hope for the placement was to come away with an understanding of the process of cataloguing and digitising audio material, as well as a more general understanding of what working with audio collections involved. Although I was going into the placement with no experience of working with audio archive collections, I had heard a lot about the UOSH project and have always been really interested in the digitisation of archive material.

My time at LMA was split between working with two very different collections: the Audio Arts collection and a small group of oral histories taken in a reminiscence group at the Woodberry Down Estate in Hackney.

Tape reel in tape box with 'Topsound' on the cover. From the Audio Arts collection.
Tape reel from the Audio Arts collection, held by Tate Library and Archive (TGA 200414/7/4/4)

I spent the first day working on the Audio Arts collection from the Tate Archive, which – being something of a Tate fan – I was really excited about. Audio Arts was a cassette-based magazine established in 1973 by William Furlong and Barry Barker. Over the next 35 years the magazine featured contributions from over nine hundred artists, including Tracey Emin, Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys. For this collection, I catalogued some of the unedited tape reels and cassettes – including unpublished recordings – which involved recording any information on the tapes and their carriers. I also spent some time in the studio with Robin, the audio digitisation engineer.

Hannah and Robin in the sound studio, with masks on
Hannah and Robin in the UOSH studio

My remaining time was spent cataloguing the Woodberry Down Estate oral history collection, newly arrived from Hackney Archives. This was post-digitisation cataloguing, which involved listening to the interviews, writing summaries of the recordings, checking the transcripts and recording timecodes at key points. One thing I underestimated about this task was how time consuming it would be to compile each interview summary. Thankfully the interviews were a pleasure to listen to, as the interviewees described their experiences of growing up in the East End around the time of the Second World War. I only managed to catalogue the first few sessions, which mainly covered the interviewees’ childhoods. Nevertheless, I was surprised at how quickly I became immersed in their stories and was fascinated by the first-hand accounts of family and home life in east London in the 1930s. The interviewees described their experiences of poverty, class discrimination, school and home life, war, rationing, first jobs and first dates in frank and honest detail.

Architectural plan of Health Centre and Day Nursery for the Woodberry Down Estate
Woodberry Down Health Centre and Day Nursery plan (GLC/AR/G/09)
Photograph of blocks of flats on the Woodberry Down Estate, taken from Seven Sisters Road in 1955. People walk along the pavement next to the flats and buses and cars can be seen on the road.
Woodberry Down Estate from Seven Sisters Road, 1955 (SC/PHL/01/408/55/2939)

Something that really resonated with me during my time at LMA was learning about the time pressure of digitising sound material compared to documentary archive material. I learnt that there are only around 15 years to save sound collections through digitisation, before many of them become unreadable. It would be an incredible shame if sound collections such as the ones I had the opportunity to work with became lost without ever being digitised.

What I enjoyed the most about listening to the audio material was that with the oral history accounts, you get a sense of immersion that you don’t necessarily get with manuscript archive material. I certainly felt privileged to be able to hear such personal memories about East London and think it’s amazing that thanks to the UOSH project these recordings will be digitised and easily accessible for all. The biggest thing that I have taken away from my time on placement is that it has given me a confidence in being able to work with sound archives in the future.

A man passes a front door key to a smartly-dressed young girl, flanked by her parents. A man in mayor's chains is in the background. The family were the first to move into this block on the Woodberry Down Estate.
The first family in the block receiving their keys, Woodberry Down Estate, 1949 (SC/PHL/02/0898/76/10498)

Learning with ILEA: Double deckers and green bananas

Anansi and the Green Bananas storybook and tape

Blog post by Sarah Crompton, part of our fantastic volunteer team.

I am privileged to have the opportunity of volunteering at London Metropolitan Archives on Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH), a nationwide project aiming to digitally preserve audio archives in danger of being lost through degradation or because the technology for accessing it is becoming obsolete. As the owner of a well-preserved video recorder and cassette player for the playing of our family collection of school and recital recordings, skilled in the art of using a pencil to respool tapes that have disgorged themselves into the inner mechanisms of the machinery, I can understand the fragility of analogous methods and the concern that nationally important resources are stored by these means. A countdown of 15 years to digitise how much! I’ll be keeping my ancient technologies functioning just in case they are called upon…

I’m currently working on education resources produced by the Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), which was in operation between 1965 and 1990. Unlocking this particular part of our sound heritage is akin to unlocking a primary school teacher’s private resource cupboard: 1970’s and 80’s teacher packs of the type familiar from my own education, with workbooks supported by bespoke recordings of specially commissioned songs, stories and renditions of folktales. London teachers may remember the names of such series as ‘Make-a-Story’ for 5-8 year olds, and ‘Share-a-Story’ for 5-11 year olds. London pupils may remember listening to stories with titles such as ‘The Space Dragon’, or singing ‘Double Decker’, a song about the experience of riding on a bus. Past pupils would definitely be transported by just a few seconds of hearing those distinctive electronic sounds from ILEA’s Creating Music in Class.

Listening to these resources now, what is initially striking is the intention of the content to be as wholly inclusive as possible – to simply provide what was needed, for a huge range of needs. So far, I have encountered musical resources made to encourage self-sufficiency and independence in children with learning needs and storytelling resources remarkable in their striving to create a true community amongst children and young people brought together from diverse communities in the post-war years. The focus is very strongly on ‘cultural pluralism’ – understanding and appreciating the culture and experiences of children who were newly in the country, and on recognising the talent and skills of the individual child.

As I was musing on how LMA’s collection of schools resources might be corroborated by information on the strategy for their development, Kate (Catalogue Editor on the UOSH team) dived into the wider ILEA archive, particularly the resources and newsletters produced by the Learning Resources Branch. A 1980 Media Resources Advisory newsletter contains an article by Mike Hussey, Inspector for Multi-Ethnic Education and Community Relations, which defines ILEA’s objective of developing education in a multi-ethnic society and shows how the legislative backing of the 1976 Race Relations Act positively impacted the needs-serving of the entire population.The opening statement comments that this objective was part of the ‘long standing general duty of all authorities’ – perhaps hinting at opposition to a modern progressive approach?

Media Resources Advisory Team newsletters
Media Resources Advisory Team newsletters

One has a sense that the 1976 legislation provided much-welcomed support for ILEA’s plans and the green light for a huge programme of activity. Predating the ‘Share-a-Story’ and ‘Make-a-Story’ resources by just two years, it surely was a factor in ILEA’s confident investment in the large bank of resources now represented in the collections at LMA. Hussey’s article describes the multi-ethnic approach as rooted throughout all activities in the primary school curriculum, and we see represented in the story series the exact same messages reiterated in a statement from the ILEA sub-committee: ‘to live and work harmoniously’, ‘the strengths of cultural diversity’, ‘to meet appropriately and effectively the particular needs of all people having regard to their ethnic, cultural, linguistic or historical attachment’ in both the curriculum and the ‘hidden curriculum’.

The resources

The hard evidence of this inclusive approach contained in the schools resources shows how the Learning Resources Branch in its various incarnations produced a rich flow of curriculum material, books and resources based on London school experiences, gathered through the Media Resources Officer’s liaison with schools and the secondment of teachers to work with Learning Material editors. The stories from both these series I have worked with at the LMA are wonderfully even-handed in the way they distribute the actions of groups of primary school children irrespective of race and gender.

The accompanying teacher guide booklets in the ‘Share-a-Story’ series, for example, educate teachers to recognise that although a West Indian child’s first language might be English, they were on the receiving end of a range of different English accents and pronunciations – standardised, classroom language and creole variations with their distinct inflections. Teachers in England needed guidance to recognise that these children were using a heightened intelligence to negotiate their surroundings, adept at adjusting to whichever version of English was appropriate to whatever situation. Stories were especially written or culled from other cultures, involving characters like Anansi, a well-known figure from Caribbean folklore.

The integration message is also borne out in stories like ‘The Space Dragon’ where children were encouraged to be resourceful, to rely on one another and to appreciate cultural difference as an asset. In the story, a group of children are threatened by the appearance of a dragon until the child from a Chinese family acts as interpreter – as she opens communication with the dragon, the threat evaporates and the children celebrate a new friendship with a dragon-ride across the London skies. Bonding through a true celebration of both individuality and community cohesion.

The Space Dragon
The Space Dragon, from the ‘Make-a-Story’ series (illustrations by Ronald Jackson)

At a time when the media and children’s book publishers are desperately trying to address the dearth of stories with BAME characters in lead roles and illustrations which do not accurately represent children from BAME backgrounds, look here for a wealth of stories with just those enterprising role models and accurate and celebratory pictorial representation. The voices, too: following the Caribbean story-telling tradition where the stories are told naturally in everyday language, these recordings were progressive for English schools in their use of the local and international accents that children would be hearing all around them. Clearly recognising that using English received pronunciation would be inappropriate, alienating and isolating for multi-ethnic audiences living in a local working-class environment, on the tapes from the ‘Share-a-Story’ series children would instead hear the ‘cockney’ voice of Bill Colville saying ‘I wish we could go ‘aht”. This was certainly not a commercially driven enterprise, but there is a feeling that ‘best practice’ was sourced in the very settings that ILEA sought to serve.

I am left with the feeling that children were lucky to be educated in London with this approach at the time – and wonder how this experience might compare with that of children in towns and cities with smaller minority ethnic populations and fewer resources to draw on. A couple of generations further on from the children in these stories, issues of intolerance for other cultures break regularly in the news.  There are valuable lessons to be learnt from these resources, still, and surely a huge potential for reworking and reusing the content.

Audio-visual equipment, illustrated in the Learning Resources Branch newsletters
Audio-visual equipment, illustrated in the Learning Resources Branch newsletters

 

Handling and Storing your Vinyl Records

Throughout the Unlocking our Sound Heritage project our team will work closely with the British Library to support and develop training around the best way to work with analogue sound carriers such as vinyl, open reel and cassette.
In this first of three introductory shorts, we discuss the best way to handle and store vinyl records.

vinyl

Handling

The vinyl collection you have spent years building and adding to is something you will want to look after. It tells a story of who you are and reminds you how important music is in your life.

Below are a few simple tips to keep that collection in good condition …

– always handle records by the outer edges and the labelled area only – never touch the playing surfaces with fingers or any other part of the hand

– once you have finished using the record, return it to its protective sleeve. If the sleeve is damaged, replace it with a new one

– avoid leaving your vinyl on the turntable when not in use, in particular with the stylus resting in the groove

– make use of the turntables’ cueing facility, never lowering the stylus onto or lifting the stylus off a record by hand

shelf.jpg

Storing

Once you’ve finished listening to a favourite musician or band, keeping the vinyl clean and stored properly is an important way to extend its playback life.

Below are a few simple tips to think about when putting your records away or into permanent storage …

– always check your record is free from dust and is unaffected by mould, insects or active corrosion before storing. Try to clean this dust or dirt from your vinyl before returning it to its sleeve.

– always store your records in sleeves. If there is an inner and outer sleeve, the openings of the two sleeves should be arranged at right angles, with the inner sleeve opening at the top.

– when placing your records on shelves, store them upright and without any significant pressure from the sides (but, enough to prevent sliding or warping).

– avoid stacking a single vinyl for any length of time in an upright position with the edge leaning against a vertical surface.

– and finally, never leave your records near a radiator or other source of heat (e.g. computer equipment); nor in direct sunlight

 

If you have any questions about your own collections or want to add anything to the advice above, please do so in our comments sections below.

We would love to hear not only about your collections, but your experience of handling and storing vinyl.

 

 

 

The Sounds of Billingsgate Past

For over 50 years, field and sound recordists have captured different soundscapes to help develop our knowledge of local history – enabling researchers to identify change around language, technology and the environment. One such soundscape is the market place, and in particular the cries and general noise of this traditionally busy and crowded centre for local trade.

The end of an era

Included among the City of London Corporation archives are the sounds and voices of Billingsgate Fish Market. Formally established under Act of Parliament in 1699, it wasn’t until the mid to late Victorian period that work began on the design of a more purpose-built structure, first by City Architect James B. Bunning, and then later by Sir Horace Jones, who enlarged it twofold to incorporate Billingsgate Stairs and Wharf, and Darkhouse Lane. Opened in 1877, the fish market remained in this building before its relocated to the West India Docks in 1982.

© London Met Archives Exterior view of Billingsgate Fish Market, 1973Image: Exterior view of Billingsgate Fish Market, 1973 (COLLAGE 36135)

In January 1982, before the market moved, Capital Radio conducted a series of interviews with traders and porters. In the introduction, our host reflects on what will be lost once the building is vacated including the friendliness – and language – of the porters, as well as the powerful smell.  So, who best to reminisce about its history than those who worked and bought produce from the market?

Memories of Old Billingsgate

One interviewee comments, for example, on how the younger traders lack the fish handling skills of his generation:

 “… you get hold of a Salmon, you put your hand around the back of the Salmon, lift it and the same with a Hake, you put your fingers in the eyes, slide your hand along the body, lift it. You see them now, they get hold of fish, they just throw it and chuck it away …”

While another discusses the different buyers, from the West End to Walworth Road:

“… they’d have the fish on the stands by 5 in the morning when the market opened, it was bloody noisy then what with the clatter of the hooves and the wheels of the vans rumbling over the cobbles. After the West End buyers had bought the fancy fish for all the hotels, the costers from Kennington and Walworth came round and they bought loads of haddock which they smoked themselves at home overnight. They bought the fish for tuppence and sold it smoked on the street for about six pence or eight pence”

© London Met Archives Interior view of Billingsgate Fish Market, 1973
Image: Exterior view of Billingsgate Fish Market, 1973 (COLLAGE 36140)

Market Sounds

Recording at Billingsgate Fish Market, it is not only the interviews themselves that provide insight to its history, but also the transient sounds and colloquial voices heard in the background. For instance, traders heard selling different types of fish, traffic echoing through the market from trucks or vans transporting goods, and the ‘chat’ used to sell produce:

“… what about the mackerel?”

“You’re not trying are you really?”

“Sir, here you are mackerel!”

“Where you going handsome?”

Although we have printed collections of market cries within our wider archives, sound recordings like these help us understand more about the pace and rhythm of the words spoken – a shame really that the process of ‘how to record sound’ wasn’t discovered until the 19th century!

*These recordings were digitised and catalogued as part of The British Library ‘Unlocking our Sound Heritage’ project – https://bit.ly/2Az6XkN, for which LMA is a regional hub.*

Unlocking the Huntley Archives

How saved sound heritage helped me discover the radical lives of Eric and Jessica Huntley

Kirsty and Eric

Eric and Jessica Huntley came to the UK from Guyana in the late 50s, part of the Windrush generation. They were pioneering political activists, involved in many grassroots campaigns for racial and social justice, both nationally and internationally. They are highly respected in the African-Caribbean community and beyond for their work in giving a voice to black people in the UK.

I’ve only recently discovered the legacy of Eric and Jessica through my placement at the London Metropolitan Archives, where the Huntley archives are stored. It was the LMA’s first major deposit from the African-Caribbean community, and it reveals the story of the changing cultural landscape in Britain since the 1950s.

Within the collection is a series of interviews that the Huntleys did with Professor Harry Goulbourne in 1992, recently digitised through a British Library-led project that the LMA are part of, called ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’. The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and, over a period of five years, will preserve almost half a million rare sound recordings that are at risk of being lost, on formats that are physically degrading and gradually becoming obsolete. Through this, I’ve been able to access audio heritage that has helped me understand the importance of Jessica and Eric’s story.

Here’s one of my favourite clips that I’ve discovered from the interviews, which is of Jessica describing her first job in a shirt factory back in Guyana:

I love this story because its shows Jessica’s early revolutionary spirit in calling out injustice, even before she moved to the UK. Once they did, she and Eric went on to campaign about everything from housing discrimination to National Front attacks, and even helped organise the ‘Black People’s Day of Action’ march in 1981, which was the largest protest march of black Britons to take place in the UK. They maintained an international involvement in politics, continuing to demonstrate against government injustices in Guyana, the South African apartheid regime, and the incarceration of Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was on death row in Pennsylvania, USA.

Though not officially part of the Black Power movement, the Huntleys were influenced by its key figures. Here’s Jessica reflecting on Malcolm X’s visit to the UK in the 1960s:

A key part of the Huntley’s activism was through their publishing company and bookshop, Bogle-L’Ouverture, which they set up in 1968, originally in their front room. It was named in honour of two freedom fighters – Toussaint L’Ouverture and Paul Bogle – who were both figure heads in black resistance against the slave trade. It was one of the first black publishing houses in the UK, at a time when books by black authors were rare in mainstream bookshops. This was an important action to stop the voice of black history from being silenced. Once established, the bookshop became a venue for workshops, readings and lectures, and an important community hub. Some notable writers they printed were Linton Kwesi Johnson, the only black poet published by Penguin Modern Classics, and Sir Walter Rodney, after whom the bookshop was renamed following his assassination in 1980.

Eric and Jessica saw the importance of preserving history for community and education. They kept many records of British racism and black activism, and believed in the power of the written word to document the contribution of African-Caribbean people, as Jessica explains:

This belief in preserving heritage and passing down history led to the Huntleys depositing their archives with the LMA. They are managed by a charity called FHALMA (Friends of the Huntley Archives at LMA), who work to bring the material to life and expose it to wider audiences and new generations. One way they do this is by hosting an annual Huntley Conference at the LMA. This year’s conference marked 50 years of Bogle-L’Ouverture Publications. Attendees had the chance to record an audio memory of Jessica, who passed away in 2013, which will later be added to the sound archive. I had the opportunity to volunteer at the conference, helping record these memories – including this one from Eric himself, below. Having listened to so many of his archived interviews, it felt like a huge privilege to be recording one myself.

In June, the LMA and FHALMA are collaborating with arts and diversity organisation Culture& to host ‘The Memory Archives’, an event commemorating Windrush Day. The programme will use sound material, including that of the Huntley Archives, as a reminiscence tool for people living with dementia – particularly those from the African-Caribbean community. ‘The Memory Archives’ will take place at the London Metropolitan Archives on Saturday 22nd June – save the date and we hope to see you there!

Kirsty Kerr is an Archives and Digital Media Trainee at Culture& and a volunteer on the LMA’s ‘Unlocking Our Sound Heritage’ project.

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage at London Metropolitan Archives

Friends of the Huntley Archives at LMA

Culture&

 

 

Sound Conservation: Baking Cassettes

During our work on the Unlocking our Sound Heritage project, the team will potentially encounter a range of conservation issues during the digitisation process. For example, how to prepare degrading formats for digital transfer.

Cassettes and reel to reel tapes (particularly the latter) can build up moisture over time, which damages and erodes the material, impairs the sound quality and makes for a poor transfer. This build-up of moisture cannot always be spotted on visual inspection, but playing the tape may give you some audio clues: these can include muffled or ‘watery’ sound, excessive wow and flutter etc. Basically if the audio sounds ‘wobbly’ or muffled, baking may be the solution.

Another problem that frequently occurs is ‘sticky shed syndrome’, where the binder holding the oxide in place on the tape surface begins to break down. In severe cases this oxide can literally powder off on your fingers and create an audible ‘squealing’ sound which can be heard both in the studio and on the recording. This last one in particular is more common with reels, but cassettes can be affected too. Either way, a spell in the oven will be necessary.

Tape baking

In the above example we see a cassette placed on one the trays inside the oven. There are three trays for the baking of multiple tapes. Place the offending items in the oven and cover with the lid. The controls are very simple – set the timer for 8 hours and the temperature for 50 degrees.

Baking tape 2

The tape must be allowed to heat up and cool down naturally, so once the baking process has started, resist the temptation to throw in a couple of extras that you might have missed!

Once the tape has been left to return to normal temperature (ideally on the following day – the sooner the better), the theory goes that you’ll have a brief period of a few days to attempt another digitisation before the tape returns to its former state. The theory also goes that you have ONE CHANCE ONLY to digitise the tape once baking has been completed. It’s generally a good idea to adhere to these guidelines, but also to bear in mind that each tape is unique and can act in different ways. The baking may have completely remedied the problem – and it often does – but isn’t always the miraculous cure you might hope for. There are other tape restoration methods you can try, but that’s for another time.

Unlocking our Sound Heritage is a Heritage Lottery Funded project led by the British Library, for which London Metropolitan Archives is one of ten regional hubs. Discover more via our website.

The importance of Oral History in sharing London’s untold past.

Throughout the Unlocking our Sound Heritage (UOSH) project London Metropolitan Archives (LMA), as one of ten UK-wide regional hubs, will be working to digitise and catalogue a number of sound recordings that will include world music, academic lectures, urban sounds and oral history.

Of all these types of audio, it is oral history that we anticipate will provide us a broader understanding of different London communities, helping us to learn more about who they were, where they lived, their lifestyle and what traditions they valued.

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What is an Oral History?
Oral history is an audio recording of historical information based on the experiences and opinions of an individual (or group). The origins of oral history can be traced back to the 5th century BC when Greek historians like Thucydides were using eye-witness accounts of the Peloponnese Wars to support their work. In a modern context, oral history in Britain emerged as a recognised field of study during the 1970s, and in particular became a useful way of documenting community histories.

One of the influences behind this renewed interest in oral history was the work carried out by institutions like the School of Scottish Studies (Edinburgh University) and the Welsh Folk Museum during the 1950s, whose focus on capturing lost traditions and dialects of rural community groups inspired later oral historians to explore similar themes of hidden or forgotten histories. In particular, identifying subjects, identities or community groups absent from surviving documentary evidence such as women, black and ethnic minorities or LGBTQ.

The Voice(s) of a London Community
One of the first collections of sound recordings to be digitised and catalogued by the UOSH project are the oral histories of the Samuel Lewis Housing Trust (part of the Southern Housing Group). Recorded between 1999 and 2001, older residents of the housing estates were invited to reminiscence groups (and one-to-one interviews) to share their memories of childhood, work and setting up home. The main bulk of the oral histories focus on life in London during the early to mid-20th century.

Those who participated in the oral histories categorise themselves as ‘not the poorest people but ordinary, hard-working families’. Consequently, their stories of life in the capital during the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s can be interpreted as more representative of what a majority of London residents would have experienced.

Arguably the most interesting topics covered by these oral histories are those that detail less-represented aspects of London history, such as immigration, sexuality and women at work.

Below, we’ve selected a few examples with accompanying audio clips for you to listen to …

Immigration

‘At that time, it was hard to get a house or flat. “No coloured, no Irish, no children, no this, no that”. So eventually we had to look for a foster home for the children, because were we go they didn’t want children. The first one was then about three months old.

[Eventually, they found a one bedroom flat] The boy was three and girl was just two.

Stella Adekunle, London from Lagos

‘[London] was vast. We didn’t really go anywhere for a long time because we were frightened to go. I remember we went to the West End, the first time we ever went by tube, and that was scary. One of the girls she was quite, you know educated, she was able to read, where to get on and where to get off. We got out of the underground and we went straight up to C&As and we came back again because we didn’t know which way to go in case we got lost.’

Kathy Gannon, arriving 1948 from Kildare

Sexuality

‘Working in the West End of London I used to overhear a lot of conversations in various areas.  At the time there was a very famous […] coffee shop in the Haymarket, the name now escapes me. In the Soho area there were a lot of places, gay meeting places, one of which was in Meard Street and that was a coffee shop which was built up as though it was a cemetery. The tables were all designed as coffins so that was one of the areas that one would go and investigate and associate with ones peers even though again nothing was said. But of course it was the usual business of like recognising like so the question of whether I was or was not gay was not broached because I obviously had to be gay to be in these locations.’

‘And of course it was six years passed after I left London and moved to Brighton that the law was changed.  1967.

Not long ago really?

Not when one considers, I suppose it must have been at that time or shortly after that time that I wished I had been able to discuss my feelings properly or more easily except that I had no indication that anyone else who worked in the same building as me had any ideas of gayness on their side.  Of course, subsequently I discovered differently but yes I soon discovered differently but at the time I didn’t know.’

William Ernest Lawrence

Women at work

‘There was a big advert in the paper about girls coming to London and getting jobs in hospitals after the war, so three of us came over from Athy. They sent us our fare. Came over on the cattle boat. We were orderlies, we wasn’t nurses as such because I couldn’t really read and write a lot. We would clean the wards, talk to the patients, clean the lockers and do their bit of shopping. It was marvellous. [Fourteen] was young but we didn’t know much about sex life or anything like that. Innocent in that way, but grown up workwise.

Kathy Gannon

‘[My mum] used to keep three jobs going, just to keep the family going. She would start in the morning and clean the pub round the corner, the Live and Let Live. And then she would go to what they called a silver badge café and then cook about two hundred dinners. Finish about half past four. Come home and cook all the family meals. Go back to the silver badge café from 8 pm to 11 pm at night. And in between that she used to clean the school.‘

Cliff Donald

*To learn more about this fantastic collection, and the ‘Unlocking our Sound Heritage’ project at London Metropolitan Archives, please visit our website – https://bit.ly/2Az6XkN*

 

*These oral histories were digitised and catalogued as part of The British Library ‘Unlocking our Sound Heritage’ project – https://bit.ly/2Az6XkN, for which LMA is a regional hub.*

#oralhistory #reminisce

London’s Sound Heritage

In 2018, London Metropolitan Archives became one of ten regional hubs across the UK to join the British Library’s ‘Unlocking our Sound Heritage’ project – https://www.bl.uk/projects/unlocking-our-sound-heritage

Funded by the Heritage Lottery (HLF), this ambitious project will aim to digitise and catalogue at-risk sound recordings to support research and greater access to audio collections located across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. In London, this will include community oral histories, cultural music, urban soundscapes and academic speeches contributed by local and national institutions across the capital.

To help spread the word about this project, and its significant contribution to London history, we plan to share posts about the work we do, the collections we use, training and advice on how to look after your own sound recordings, and highlight some of the work already going on with sound from different sites across social media.