Long before we sat in classrooms, storytelling was the way people learned about history. In ancient times not everyone went to school and not everyone could write either.
So, people told each other stories that were passed down from generation to generation.
Throughout history some of those stories were written down but the collective memory of the people listening and the act of storytelling itself was a type of recording, a ‘memory archive,’ if you like.
Storytelling and Oral History
In the 1970s a movement changed History-with-a-big-H, it was called Oral History.
It harked back to what some people thought was an outmoded or forgotten idea; what people say about their lives is as valuable as any document on the shelves of a university library or museum.
Oral History established a new order – one where anyone could get involved with the building blocks of history by telling their stories and having them recorded for all to access and hear.
Oral History combines the ancient tradition of storytelling and modern methods of recording and access; it’s this combination that is building ‘new history’ and the good news is that Hull’s Oral History is already under weigh…
Untold Hull is doing just that – its task is to record the life stories of the people of Hull.
They are building an archive of the past and what the people think about its future and you are the people making it happen so you can get involved too.
They are based in the central library on Albion Street and are doing lots of work recording short snippets or longer stories from all over Hull, some of the clips you can listen to on their website.
Browse some here:
London and Hull’s Oral History
Lots of people from Hull are no longer living in the area, many have left and set up lives elsewhere and there is a community in Greater London as a result.
London-based children of parents from Hull will have memories as well; what it’s like to return and what they heard about Hull while they were growing up too.
I’m going to be interviewing Hullensians in London to capture their stories for Untold Hull but if you are still local, you can get involved very easily…
What’s the benefit of telling my story?
Your history is unique and so are your memories of Hull.
Think about what you’ve seen and what you’ve experienced in your lifetime.
Whether it’s 20 years or 60 it shapes and builds your perspective of life in the City as a whole.
Oral History is a way of you recording those experiences forever and they will become part of the permanent record of Hull.
You will be making history for all to listen to and understand for generations to come.
My story isn’t that unusual….
It’s not necessary to talk about the most exciting bits, it’s also about the run of the mill and the every day.
It’s about the family life you lead, where you worked, the streets you walked down, the events that have happened and the thoughts and feelings you had about them too.
You can also talk about the future, what you say is up to you.
Do I have to be a good talker?
You just need to talk how you talk to people every day – Oral History is saying things about your own life in your own way.
The people you’ll be talking to are very used to listening and will make you feel at ease.
How does it work?
Oral History is done via recording so it’s different than writing things down in a letter or a diary.
You’ll need to talk in a quiet place with no interruptions, that’s because the recording itself will need to be audible, usable and clear.
The person interviewing you will have the equipment they’ll use to record what you are saying. They’ll ask you some questions as you go along but what you say is up to you.
Afterwards, the recording will become part of Untold Hull.
How long will it be for?
It can be a short length of time or a long length of time. Even short interviews can be fascinating and say a lot about Hull.
What happens afterwards?
The recording you made will become part of Hull’s Oral History permanently. Before that you will have time to talk about it and state that you are OK about what it means.
Untold Hull or I are happy to answer any questions if you want to chat it through before making your mind up.
For people in Hull
If you are interested and want to know more, contact UntoldHull via their contact page on their website https://untoldhull.org/tell-us-your-story/
Or by phoning them up on 01482 614286 or by emailing them on email@example.com
They are at:
Hull Central Library
For people in London
You can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org or send in a query using the form below and I’ll get back to you…