Brooks, Margaret (6 of 8). Oral History of Oral History
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2013-02-12, 2013-04-09, 2013-05-15, 2013-07-16, 2013-09-053-07-17, 2013-09-24, 2013-11-13, 2013-12-04, 2014-01-22, 2014-02-19
The British Library
Brooks, Margaret (speaker, female)
Wilkinson, Robert (speaker, male)
Part 6: [Session four: 16 July 2013] User record cards for visitors. Later on the museum had some money for printed catalogues which helped a bit. Department opened in 1972 and opened to the public in 1977. David Lance remarried and went to Australia. Margaret was appointed to his old post whilst still on maternity leave. Small changes to begin with accessibility of records. In 1973 first computer in the department. New department set up Dept. of Information Retrieval. People appointed were generally colleagues rather than experts. No integration between departments in terms of cataloguing. [14:40] Two staff interviewers and a varying number of freelancers in the early period. In first decade WW1 survivors were getting a bit thin. Other projects were being developed as well as significant people from whatever background. Politicians were much more slippery. [22:09] Relative values of official and oral histories. Interviewer mentions Richard Holmes concerns about oral history. There are some testimonies that are untrue in the collection. Discusses false memory issues. Not an issue in the museum, The department had been started by the deputy director, Christopher Roads which was helpful in rebutting false memory accusations. [30:30] David Lances relationship with the OHS. Margarets issues with transcripts and poor recordings within oral history. Often important to listen to the voice. Transcribing was only done when money available. All recordings are summarised and indexed. [36:51 Was late to an OHS conference in Nov 1987 because of the Kings Cross fire. Mentions Lloyd Stickells who joined in 1974 and in 1979 moved to BIRS. They had their own technical section in their department until the late 1980s when the two audio technicians were moved to work across all IWM departments. Some funding for external processing instead. [40:40] Use of sound in exhibitions. Developed to telephone handsets. There was an exhibitions department who were none too interested in using sound. By early 2000s they did acknowledge that some use was helpful. Education Dept. needed encouragement to use sound. They preferred survivors to directly talk to children. Mentions thematic work refugees coming to the UK before WW2. This developed to The Holocaust. Mention of the Shoah Project, some discussion of the British contributors interviews to be lodged with the IWM. Did not happen. [52:50] Issues of distressing interviews. Cites an interview with a sailor. Some interviewers got upset. Most Holocaust interviewees were UK residents. Some questioning whether the IWM should be recording survivors as not based in the UK. Later expanded to genocide. Development of recording more recent conflicts starting with the Bosnian wars. Serving soldiers back from Afghanistan, some very young. Mentions a phone call from a soldier just back from Iraq and wider issues of emotional trauma and interviewing. [1:05:00] Most interviewees ascribed copyright to the museum. There are disclosure interviews in the collection. Few interviews have restrictions. Refugees project were essentially refugees in the UK. Some interviews in nearby Europe. Some German aviator interviews undertaken. Some recordings in Japanese. Recordings of refugee communities. [1:15:10] Departmental monthly meetings developed into discussions. Directors Alan Borg and Robert Crawford developed more participatory styles of management. New post of Director of Collections to whom all keepers reported. In 2010 all the collecting departments were amalgamated into one. Less access to senior management. In 2010 all the keepers were made redundant. At the public end probably easier to access material. Now dedicated public facing staff rather than a rota of departmental staff. Describes the public listening facilities. Some use by family historians often background rather than direct.
Life story interview with Margaret Brooks, former archivist and head of the Imperial War Museum’s Sound Archive.