Oral History

What is oral history?

Oral history is the collection and study of historical information using recorded interviews with people about past events.

It can be folk lores, myths, songs and stories passed down by word of mouth or eye-witness accounts.

Why use oral history?

Oral history brings to life the voices and experiences of individuals.  Traditional narratives of the past, although important, can be quite dull and inaccessible.

The accounts given in oral history recordings augments information already provided by public records and adds news viewpoints and perspectives. They can provide details that would not normally be recorded by traditional narratives such as the sights, smells, and sounds of a particular place as well as the emotions an event/place evokes.

How will my story be recorded?

We aim to capture as many stories as we can within the comfort of your own home using audio recording equipment (which is about the size of a mobile phone). It will be a very relaxed and informal recording, it is not a question and answer session. You, the story teller, is invited to share as much, or as little as you feel comfortable.

Where will my story be used?

Initially, the recordings will be used for an exhibition  within the University of Suffolk’s foyer.

After that, the recordings and related documents will be handed to the care of the Suffolk Records Office to be preserved and used to create a picture of how the subject (in this case St. Clements Church) impacted the lives of those within the community.

With your permission, some of the recordings may also be used by BBC Radio Suffolk.

Can I remain anonymous and/or restrict access to my recording?


Immediately after your recording you will need to sign a simple release form.  This will enable you to control who has access to your recording.

Will I be given a copy of my recording?


As a thank you for participating within our oral history project you will be given copies of both the edited and unedited recording(s).


If you would like more in-depth information on oral history and its uses we recommend the following sites.

The Oral History Society

University of Leicester – Introduction to Oral History https://le.ac.uk/history/outreach/besh/oral-history

Heritage Lottery Fund – Oral History