Oral history and personal testimonies

Take a look at the list of people interviewed for the ‘I worked at Raleigh’ project, pick some people and listen to them talking about working at the Raleigh factory. Some people also talk about the fun they used to have working with their mates, going on trips and having parties.

When people tell true stories about their past lives as they remember them, these stories become oral history, which means history that is spoken, rather than written. The stories they tell about things that happened to them are known as personal testimonies.

Interview questions

When you hear people talking, it might seem like they are just telling their stories. But really, someone has designed an interview and asked them questions. Then their answers have been edited.

Listen again to one of the people telling about life at the Raleigh factory.

·       Write down a list of the questions you think they were asked

·       Swap your list with a partner or a teacher and see what they think

·       Role play being Raleigh workers and try out your questions with a partner (or two)

Your own oral history project

Might you have a relative that worked at the Raleigh factory before it closed?

Ask someone at home if anyone in your family, or a family friend, worked at the Raleigh factory.

If you find that there is someone known to you who worked at the Raleigh factory, ask them if you can interview them about their life at Raleigh. If you can, and if they give their permission, record what they say, or write some notes.

·       From the recording or your notes, write down a bit of their personal testimony. You might want to write it as if you are writing their diary, so you can write in the first person, using ‘I’ instead of their names

·       Draw some illustrations to go with your oral history

·       You might want to do your oral history as a cartoon strip

·       You might want to do it on the computer and make it like a Powerpoint slide show or a web-page

Images and objects

Not every bit of historical evidence, or source, is written. Historians often find out about history from images and objects.

·       Using the ‘search’ facility, see how many objects and images you can find on the website

·       Make a museum display of a collection of the objects that you find.

o   Put them together in groups that make sense to you

o   Write labels for the objects and images to give the image or object a title

o   You might want to write some information about the object

This work is known as curating and you have been playing the part of a curator.

Interesting, different and special words

In many workplaces and jobs, there are special words particular to those places and jobs, words that you might not hear or read about in everyday life.

Listen again to a personal testimony that you like and see if you can hear any different or special words. They might be words that describe the different parts of the factory or different parts of a bicycle. They might be words that are just spoken in the Nottingham area

·       Listen again and see if you can work out what they mean.

·       Write a list of the words and, beside them, write down what you think they mean

·       With a partner, role play a short scene and try to include those words

·       Write the script of your scene and, if you can, record it so that you can listen to it. It will make you laugh!

All work and no play?

As well as talking about the work they did, many of the people who gave personal testimony talked about the social life of the people who worked at the Raleigh factory. They might talk about clubs, outings, parties, or of jokes and pranks they played when they were meant to be working.

·       How many examples can you find of people talking about the fun aspects of working at Raleigh?

·       Write a short story or draw a cartoon strip showing fun times at Raleigh