Oral historians

Harrison, Brian (2 of 25).  Oral History of Oral History

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  • Recording date

    2012-01-24, 2012-02-24, 2012-03-27, 2012-04-24, 2012-05-18, 2012-06-27

  • Interviewees

    Harrison, Brian, 1937- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Wilkinson, Robert (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 2: Raphael invited Brian to talk at the early Workshops. He spoke about Chart-ism and also about phrenology. Describes Raphaels politics and Ruskin students. Met Paul Thompson there. Oral history can never be the sole source. Went to one of the foundation meetings of the Oral history Society where the constitution was agreed. John Saville was there, good at organising. Theo Barker also there. Friction between him and Paul Thompson. Paul invited Brian to guest edit one of the periodicals issues. Got a useful response from AJP Taylor on oral history for the article he wrote on Oral History and Recent Political History in No 3 (1973). Was beginning to float away from the History Workshop when its concerns became feminist what he saw in a sectarian way. He was also concerned about Pauls exaggerated faith in oral history. Moved away politically. Voted Conservative February 1974 but Labour again in October 1974 and 1979 middle ground socialism. Different to Pauls interpretation. [11:20] Wanted to broaden his historical approach by studying the right as well as the left. Still respects Raphaels approach. Mentions Patricia Hollis. Wanted to explore the Conservative Partys history. For the Church Queen and Family in Past and Present, November 1973 was offered to Raphael as a Workshop talk but the offer was not taken up. [15:30] Talks about familys politics in context of his teaching History and PPP and use of newspapers to inform himself. Talks about Thatcher and his admiration for her. Interviewed Alan Fox, sociologist on 29th May 1987 and 20th August 1988 and discussion about the Left. In 1974 got an ESRC grant to interview feminists. Interviewed Marie Stocks in Camden. Also interviewed Rebecca West before her affair with HG Wells came out. Interviewed 183 people. All now in London Metropolitan University Womens Library. Gave the recordings in 1981. Mentions a BBC Radio 4 programme that was about to be broadcast at time of interview on the Suffragettes (The Lost World of the Suffragettes, 11th February 2012). [26:28] Had written a book, Drink and the Victorians on pressure groups in the nineteenth century. Moved on to the Suffragettes. Published a book, Separate Spheres in 1978 on the opposition to womens suffrage. Raphael Samuels first wife, Anna Davin, when reviewing it, accused Brian of being an anti-feminist. Published another book, Prudent Revolutionaries in 1987 with OUP. Before that a set of essays called Peaceable Kingdom one of which was on the act of militancy. The Act of Militancy used interviews. Chapter on the Pethick Lawrences relied on interviews with Gladys Groom Smith one of their secretaries. Another key interviewee was Margaret Corbett Ashby. Brian disagreed with some of the Suffragettes tactics. Interview with Maud Kate Smith in an old peoples home where she mentioned a plot to drain the Birmingham Canal Navigation by planting a bomb. Interviewed Eva Hubbacks children, Diana Hopkinson plus another daughter and a son. [34:40] In mid 1980s he got interested in the history of the university. Trevor Aston was the general editor. Invited to edit Volume 8, 1914 onwards . He set up a seminar for staff and students and invited them to talk about their own experiences and he recorded them then transcribed. Now in the university archives. Lord Franks was recorded, undergraduate unrest in the 1960s etc. First use of computers which made transcribing easier. His first computer was bought in 1983. Used seminars for authors to start their chapters he sent them the transcript to encourage them to start writing. Volume 8 was published in 1994. Mentions other publications published by OUP. David Miliband was one of his pupils. Tutorial discussions on Liberal/Labour relations prior to Blairism. Students were not happy with Brian about his support for Thatcher. Interviewed Sir Keith Joseph on 7th August 1992. [46:17] Started to write contemporary history since 1951. Commissioned to write his volume in the Oxford History of England in 1993. Did interview one or two people including a dentist and Dame Cicely Saunders but could not get beyond that in terms of interviews. Volumes published 2009-11. Did use a number of interviews for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Took over from Colin Matthew after he died. No record of how the first Dictionary was compiled. At several points he interviewed staff about how the Dictionary was set up by Colin Matthew. [52:00] Working on the historical writings on the history of the Conservative Partysince 1945. Interviewing Helen Langley who set up the Conservative Party archive. Interviewing around the Oxford History of England published in the 1930s. Interviewing the daughter and granddaughter of George Clark, the first editor. Did interview a number of prominent people for the history of the University. He wrote the chapters on college life, politics and the administration of the University. Interviewees include Isaiah Berlin, Herbert Hart, Michael Brock, Lord Blake ( in the British Library). Wrote two articles in 20th Century British History in 1992 Mrs Thatcher and the Intellectuals. Then Oxford and the Labour Movement. This involved interviewing writers from the Oxford School about industrial relations. Hugh Clegg, Alan Flanders, George Bain, Bill McCarthy and several others.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Brian Harrison, original committee members of the Oral History Society and Emeritus Professor of history at University of Oxford.

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