Oral history of British science
Harrison, Brian (1 of 25). Oral History of Oral History
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2012-01-24, 2012-02-24, 2012-03-27, 2012-04-24, 2012-05-18, 2012-06-27
Harrison, Brian, 1937- (speaker, male)
Wilkinson, Robert (speaker, male)
Part 1: [Session one 24 January 2012 Born in a nursing home in Hampstead 9th July 1937. Family lived in Belsize Park in a flat. Parents then moved to Stanmore when he was aged three about 1939. Went to a local prep school Alcuin House School. Headmaster was T. DArcy Yeo. Got a scholarship aged 13 to Merchant Taylors School, Northwood. Left aged 18 in 1955. Was in Science Division A and gradually discovered he was no good at science. Could not easily switch but did join the Classical Lower 6th after opposition from some parents and the school. He discovered he was good at English and History. Charismatic history master Alex Jeffries, and highly conscientious younger teacher, Guy Wilson. Got seven O Levels. Did Latin, History and English (possibly) at A Level. Got good grades and went to St Johns College Oxford with a Sir Thomas White Scholarship. Went into the Army on National Service in the Royal Signals. Posted to Malta for 18 months. [07:30] His father bought a reel to reel tape recorder and gave it to Brian about this time. Got a First in History and won the Gibbs Scholarship - £300 in books for three years. Had an influential tutor, Keith Thomas. He is a pioneer social historian. Used his approach to historical investigation. Focussed on the degree which gave much attention to constitutional and political history. Too narrowly focussed. An ally of Tim Mason who campaigned for a broadening out of the syllabus. Brian shifted during these years. He voted Conservative in 1959 but in 1964 voted Labour. [11:21] Did an Oxford D Phil thesis on the temperance movement in 1966. The book of the same was published by Faber in 1971. First involvement in oral history. He used his fathers Grundig. Recorded two of his pupils, one was called Hinckley Smith both from St Edmunds Hall. Keith Robbins, who became Principal of Lam-peter College, was lookout for him as they arrived. Mentions Sir Douglas Veale, Registrar of University of Oxford Interviewed him when he became a Fellow of Cor-pus Christi in 1967 about Neville Chamberlain. He was at St Antonys from 1961-4 as a senior scholar. 1964-7 junior research Fellow at Nuffield 1967- Fellow in History and Politics at Corpus Christi. Veale had been his personal private secretary 1924-9. Recollections of Neville Chamberlain while he was Minister of Health. He wanted to be recorded which Brian did on the Grundig. Still has it. Made that available to David Dilks, another graduate student at St Antonys, for his biography of Neville Chamberlain. Wrote an article on domestic servants- college servants. He wrote an article about it in Oral History No 2 in 1972. Also an article which grew out of it which he published in The Pelican Record (college magazine) Vol 46 (Dec 2010) pp 7-36. Interviews with college servants in Corpus. Worked with his students in this. Mentions Trevor Aston, a colleague who encouraged him. 15 -6 undergraduates involved. Used the Grundig for his own. Used to transcribe his own interviews. Describes the process pre computers. [20:21] Mentions the influence of History Workshop and Raphael Samuel. Whilst at Nuffield historians used to meet fortnightly and Raphael Samuel was invited to the meetings. Describes him. Also supported by AH Halsey to take a sociological ap-proach. Raphael was not so keen. (keener on literature and social anthropology). Voted Labour and joined the Co-op.
Life story interview with Brian Harrison, original committee members of the Oral History Society and Emeritus Professor of history at University of Oxford.