The voice in the museum: Personal oral narratives and social identities in public history (with particular reference to work and workplace cultures)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: History

Abstract

This proposed Fellowship is designed to expand existing collaborations and enable the transfer of knowledge on oral history methodology, theory and practice, with particular reference to the cultural history and meaning of work in the twentieth century from HE (Professor McIvor) to Glasgow Museums. Within the workplan of forward-looking heritage agencies such as Glasgow Museums, simply providing access to oral history collections is no longer considered sufficient; instead the over-arching aim is to use oral testimonies to achieve cultural participation. This project aims to develop the effective use of 'voice' in Glasgow Museums by unlocking the potential of its considerable collection of interviews. In particular, the application of analyses of changing work and social identities by the Knowledge Transfer Fellow (KTF) and the named Research Assistant (RA) to the oral history collection will encourage new interpretations of Glasgow's recent history, expand the use of interviews within Glasgow Museums, its associated exhibitions, and educational outreach programmes and make the collection more accessible.

Glasgow Museums is dedicated to improving the care, audit and access of their 'nationally significant collections'. It recognises the fundamental role of oral history in future collecting, however it lacks guidance on what topics and social groups should be targeted to help consolidate and develop the existing oral history resource. The KTF/RA would identify 'gaps' in the Museums collections and formulate an oral history collecting policy, based on their academic expertise and knowledge of current oral history collecting methods and practices, making Glasgow Museums interview archive invaluable to researchers. This Knowledge Transfer Fellowship will produce an educational resource for schools (focusing on social identity at work and the meaning of work from oral testimonies), develop Glasgow Museum's web pages cataloguing the oral history collection and access information, work within the Open Museum's outreach programme and develop HE teaching materials, thus widening access to Glasgow Museum's oral history collection to researchers and students in HE, and to the wider Glasgow Museum audience. The proposed new Work Placement in Oral History undergraduate class will continue the knowledge exchange relationship, facilitating a new round of oral history interviewing targeting the identified 'gaps' in coverage.

Drawing upon almost three decades of experience researching the meaning of work / social identities at work as a professional historian and more than a decade of working explicitly with oral testimonies (including several innovative interviewing projects exploring diverse aspects of work culture from shipbuilders, to miners and to the oral history of higher education in Glasgow) this project will utilise the knowledge and expertise of the KTF within the public history domain. Using work-life histories, the KTF/RA will show how narrative analysis of oral testimonies can reveal much about wider society. Intersubjectivity and the relationship between collective memory and individual memory will be a particular focus, an issue that has lain at the heart of much of the most recent innovative research using oral history and personal testimonies (including over the past five years by the KTF - see publications).

Our vision of the lasting legacy of this project will be a fundamental transition in the use of the voice in public history, both in terms of breadth across Glasgow Museums and in terms of depth - with more critical reflection on the ways in which memories are manufactured and history reconstructed. This has the potential to make the past more interesting, meaningful and engaging, and thus to attract new audiences to the museums.






Planned Impact

This project will benefit Glasgow Museums, its staff and its users in a number of significant ways. Key to this is the potential of the project to increase cultural participation in Glasgow's history and heritage through access to, interaction with and analysis and dissemination of oral testimonies.
It will benefit key users in the following ways:

Glasgow Museums
It will enhance Glasgow Museums' reputation for innovating and facilitating research of interest to social, cultural and economic historians and hence raise its profile, especially relating to oral history, the history of work, and changing identities. The project will enhance a working relationship with the Strathclyde's History Department, particularly the Scottish Oral History Centre.
The project will open up access to a clearly defined set of oral interview materials to researchers and the general public all over the world. The development of web pages cataloguing the content, access information and scope of these oral interviews will help Glasgow Museums' own efforts to disseminate the collection and potentially unlock 'hidden' histories
The outcomes of this project will also benefit the wider community by feeding into Glasgow Museums' Open Museum, which takes the collections beyond the museum walls and out into the community. Thus the public can benefit from new interpretations which feed into Glasgow Museums' work/output.

Staff
New interpretations of Glasgow Museums' significant oral history collection will be produced in conjunction with key research, curatorial and learning and access staff, who will receive in-depth training on up-to-date oral history analyses. This approach and technique of analysis can then be applied to other areas of individual and community experience by trained Glasgow Museums staff.
The project will enable critical reflection on the collection of oral history research and explore the ways in which the 'voice' might be used more effectively in future exhibitions and outreach programmes, assisting a range of future projects within Glasgow Museums, including a plan to consolidate social history collections in a final phase of development at Glasgow Museums Resource Centre.
Within Glasgow Museums, the KTF/RA will present papers to the Curatorial Research Group, Human History Forum, and annual Collections Research Conference while within the broader museums sector, will present to the Scottish Museums Forum and prepare an article for submission to Museums Journal.

School pupils and teachers
This project will deliver curriculum workshops to schools, allowing schoolchildren and teachers to actively engage and interact with the past through oral testimonies.
The KTF and RA will also present to the Glasgow Museums programme of Continuing Professional Development for primary teachers on effective means of using the oral history collection in the primary school curriculum.
The development of an education resource, 'Shipyards to Office Blocks: Voices of Glasgow People in the Workplace c. 1950-2000' (including a CD of oral history excerpts) for schools, will enhance the participation and engagement of young learners in the museums' Learning and Access Service.

Cultural impact
By incorporating a formal collecting and preservation policy on oral history in Glasgow Museums - and one based on the knowledge accrued by the Fellow and the Scottish Oral History Centre (and professional legal procedures and ethical frameworks in oral history best practice) - into the outputs, this programme of work will ensure the long-term survival and further expansion of the under-utilised oral history collection. In turn, this will help to develop a culture within the heritage / public history sector that gives rightful recognition to the fundamental importance of memory, transmitted through voice and recorded electronically, both in archivin
 
Description This KTF project has fulfilled its aim to significantly develop oral history resources within Glasgow Museums (GM), make such chronically under-utilised resources more accessible, increase oral history capacity and provide the basis for sustainable integration of oral history heritage in the city.

Digitising and expanding access to oral history collections
Most of the original 300 analogue tapes belonging to the 2000 Glasgow Lives oral history archive collection have been digitised and saved to the Glasgow Museums database together with 212 time-coded searchable summaries. Collection Level Descriptions (CLDs) and Object Level Descriptions (OLDs) have been created for Glasgow Museums 'Collections Navigator' database.

Extending the collection and filling the gaps
Gaps in the GM oral history collection were identified and a new oral history project 'Working Lives' initiated. 21 interviews have been completed and saved to GM database.

Pilot video, sound clips and memoryscape
Using oral interview material a pilot memoryscape (sound trail) was created (focusing on a Clydeside waterfront community) and video designed and created about the 2000 Glasgow Lives project and posted on SOHC website. MP3 sound clips (with transcriptions) have been created for use on Glasgow Museums' web pages and as part of a 'toolkit' for use in school and community outreach projects.

Developing oral history capacity
Oral history training seminars - followed by tailored advice and support - were delivered to GM museum staff providing them with advanced oral history skills and knowledge. 7 GM volunteers were trained in the processes of digitisation and summarisation.

New innovative work placement course
To sustain the partnership and grow oral history resources we have developed a new undergraduate honours course, Work and Community Placement in Oral History. This has successfully run through Sept-Dec 2012 and Sept-Dec 2013 with student placements at Glasgow Museums and other partners, including Edinburgh Museums, Summeree Museum, Coatbridge, the Scottish Jewish Archives, the Watt Museum, Greenock and Clydebank Museum.

Disseminating the findings
Material from the project has been utilised in a book, A. McIvor, Working Lives (Palgrave, April 2013), two articles and one book chapter in 2011-14.

Presentations were also delivered to a wide range of audiences, including museums, local community groups and school teachers, whilst a wide range of researchers have accessed the data, including for PhDs, for a Leverhulme funded linguistics research project, for community projects and for an art installation at the Southern General Hospital, Glasgow.

Summary
The project has been fundamentally important in demonstrating the long-term benefits of meaningful knowledge exchange and engagement between academics in the Scottish Oral History Centre and curators and researchers in Glasgow Museums working in public heritage. It has contributed towards a refocused public history in the city, infused much more systematically with the voice and drawing more effectively upon memory sources. This engages and empowers the community actively and directly in constructing their own history as a shared and more democratic experience.
Exploitation Route Glasgow Museums oral history collection is now a more accessible resource and hence can be put to use more widely by researchers, museum staff and local and community projects.

The additional oral history interviews undertaken provides an additional resource and is being taken forward in the Scottish Oral History Centre with new projects and new collaborations with local and community groups (often HLF funded).

This project should inspire other museums to develop such academic/museum collaborations to develop new oral history projects, digitise and catalogue existing collections and cement this very successful alliance between academic and public/community oral history.

An example would be the recently awarded AHRC CDP between the Scottish Oral History Centre and the Imperial War Museums (2014-17)
Sectors Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
 
Description 1. Presenter : Schools engagement : Invited by Glasgow Museums to present a paper about oral history to a group of secondary school teachers with a view to encouraging oral history to be used as part of the curriculum for excellence. 2. Presenter : Public lecture/debate/seminar : Provision of oral history training to Glasgow Museums staff Provided by Dr David Walker; McIvor, Bartie and Perchard Delivered in formal training sessions and through advice and support provided to Glasgow Museum 3. Presenter : Schools engagement : Invited by Glasgow Museums to present a paper about oral history to a group of secondary school teachers with a view to encouraging oral history to be used as part of the curriculum for excellence. 4. Presenter : Public lecture/debate/seminar : An invitation by South Lanarkshire Council (Museums) to present a paper on the 2000 Glasgow Lives project and to inform and enthuse members of the South Lanarkshire Heritage Trust about oral history projects. 5. 2000 Glasgow Lives, Voices from the Yard and Dock Workers testimony all utilised in an art installation 'River of Writing' created by Nikki Gear for Special Care Maternity Unit, Southern General Hospital, Glasgow. The commission comprises two digital artworks installed in waiting rooms in the Maternity Unit. They are part of a series of commissions relating to the rebuilding and renovating of the unit and designed to improve the feel of the building for patients, families and staff. Three LCD screens build a 'light box' image of a river contained in a frame mounted on the wall of the waiting room. The image is constructed from collaged lines of scanned, handwritten text. The right-hand screen in the image is interactive (through clicking a mouse) to access the library. The library comprises diverse digital media; scanned drawing/writing, text, photographs and audio. The library and image is controlled by a computer installed in a cupboard below the screens. This installation utilises oral history testimony drawn from recent work undertaken by McIvor and Dr Walker during the collaborative AHRC KTF. 6. Glasgow Museums oral history archive revitalised with data from 2000 Glasgow Lives, Voices from the Yard, Dock Workers and M74 Project archives now digitised and able to be accessed and used. Already, knowledge of the project has reached beyond GM to local and European researchers who have since accessed the data for project work: University of Strathclyde Alison Chand and Nichola Graham (PhD theses) University of Tübingen Tobias Gerstung (PhD thesis) http://www.nach-dem-boom.de/teilprojekte/gerstung.php University of Glasgow, Tamara Rathcke (Leverhulme funded linguistics research) http://www.leverhulme.ac.uk/news/news_item.cfm/newsid/6/newsid/127 Fairfield Govan Heritage project, Suki Mills http://www.fairfieldgovan.co.uk/heritage/history/current-research/ New novel in progress(Bella Bathurst) http://www.bellabathurst.com/ St.Kilda cassette tapes digitised and made available for use in current research project. 7. Glasgow University Dialects Project: This project looks into speech sounds of Glasgow past and present. Just as the landscape of the city has experienced transformations over time, the speech of its residents has been continuously changing.The project utilised many oral history testimonies drawn from the Scottish Oral History Centre especially audio files from the 'M74' and '2000 Glasgow Lives' oral history projects. The latter files were recently digitised and summarised during research work on an AHRC KTF funded project between the SOHC and Glasgow Museums
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services
 
Title 2000 Glasgow Lives database (Glasgow Museums) 
Description 205 of the original 300 analogue tapes belonging to the 2000 Glasgow Lives oral history archive collection have now been digitised (WAV and MP3 formats) and saved to the GM database. In addition, 205 time-coded summaries have been created in Word format for the digitised recordings and saved to GM database. In addition: 1. St.Kilda cassette tapes digitised and made available for use in a current research project and for future open access . 2. Voices from the Yard were put into a digital form (wav files) and put on to the GM database. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact N/A 
 
Description Work and Community Placement in Oral History (V1499) course with Glasgow Museums 
Organisation Glasgow City Council
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Member : CPD delivery/organisation of courses for externals (in kind) : Work and Community Placement in Oral History (V1499) is a new honours level 20 credit class created to ensure the sustainability of the knowledge exchange activities between the University and Glasgow Museums. It enables 6-10 UG honours students to undertake formal work placements in oral history at Glasgow Museums sites (as well as other students undertaking work placements elsewhere, including the Scottish Jewish Archives and Summerlee Museum, Lanarkshire).
Start Year 2012
 
Description Provision of oral history training to Glasgow Museums. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact "Presenter : Public lecture/debate/seminar : Provision of oral history training to Glasgow Museums staff

Provided by Dr David Walker; McIvor, Bartie and Perchard

Results: Provided full training for museum staff to apply in their museum practice and oral history projects.

Delivered in formal training sessions and through advice and support provided to Glasgow Museums staff (curators, Open Museum, Learning & Access) working on current (Red Road) and future (Dalmarnock) oral history related projects. Further advice and support on oral history provided to community based proposed HLF project (Lambhill Stables) working with Open Museum section of Glasgow Museums."

The training stimulated an awareness of the complexities of oral history methodology and an improvement in practice with Glasgow Museums.

This has been followed by successful collaboration in the Work and Community Placement undergraduate class, expanding across a group of local museums and extending to Edinburgh.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011
 
Description The Voice in the Museum: Oral History Projects within Schools 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Presenter : Schools engagement : Invited by Glasgow Museums to present a paper about oral history to a group of secondary school teachers with a view to encouraging oral history to be used as part of the curriculum for excellence.

Stimulated thinking about oral history methodology as part of the research element in secondary school teaching.

Led to the creation of the MUSE oral history project at Springburn Academy, Glasgow (started August 2013) where the Scottish Oral History Centre provide training and support for school children aged 14-15. This is currently in it's second year of running.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
 
Description The Voice in the Museum: Oral History and Public Engagement 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presenter : Public lecture/debate/seminar : An invitation by South Lanarkshire Council (Museums) to present a paper on the 2000 Glasgow Lives project and to inform and enthuse members of the South Lanarkshire Heritage Trust about oral history projects with a view to creating one of their own.

This has been followed by a number of such presentations.

South Lanarkshire Museums have subsequently gone on to initiate an oral history project on coal miners and steel workers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011
 
Description Work and Community Placement in Oral History (V1499) course with Glasgow Museums 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Work and Community Placement in Oral History (V1499) is a new honours level 20 credit class created to ensure the sustainability of the knowledge exchange activities between the University and Glasgow Museums. It enables 6-10 UG honours students to undertake formal work placements in oral history at Glasgow Museums sites (as well as other students undertaking work placements elsewhere, including the Scottish Jewish Archives and Summerlee Museum, Lanarkshire).


Not recorded
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012