Thursday, 8 May 2014

Oral Labour Histories: Britain at Work 1945-95


Can I encourage you to attend a forthcoming event (held yearly) which provides a focus on the oral history tradition and from the perspective of labour movements.

Before I promote the event however, can I give an appropriate plug for a new book by Selina Todd (St. Hilda's College, Oxford) on the British working class from 1910-2010 which draws on oral history testimonies from a wide variety of sources.

I have to admit that one of the real personal draws of mine towards this work (as there are already many on the subject) is that Todd herself comes from a working class background and the drive to write the book comes from an urgent desire to fill a vacuum in British social history. "I looked in vain for my family's story when I went to university to read history," relates Todd "and continued to search for it fruitlessly throughout the next decade.

Eventually I realised that I would have to write this history myself."

Selina will be at Ruskin College on 13th June (6.30pm) for a talk about her new book as part of the College's events linked to the 30th anniversary of the miners' strike - all are welcome.

So, to the oral labour histories event in London 17th May. The details are below and you can contact Linda Clarke at the University of Westminster to book a place:

Britain at Work (B@W) in association with:

British Universities Industrial Relations (BUIRA) IR History Group and

Oral History Society (OHS)

SYMPOSIUM: Saturday 17 May 2014

 Bishopsgate Institute, 230 Bishopsgate (nearest tube: Liverpool Street)

Click on this hyperlink for full location details:

Britain at Work (B@W) is an initiative to capture the memories of people at work between 1945-1995. Working life as experienced during the half-century 1945-1995 was marked by extreme diversity and change and by the growth of trade union organisation and influence to a high point in the mid-1970s. The trade union movement injected a strong democratic current into British workplaces, to which management responded in different ways, as evident from the significant conflicts between unions and employers, associated with the problems of technological change, de-industrialisation and new union legislation.

One again (B@W) is organising an Oral Labour History Day at the Bishopsgate Institute in London, this time on Saturday 17 May. It will be similar to those organised over the last two years, but with an afternoon theme focusing on occupations and social protest in the UK. The day will begin with an opening address by Anna Davin, followed by round table introductions on projects in which symposium participants are involved and their interest in oral labour history, and – after lunch – our afternoon focus on occupations and social protest.
All those engaged in or with an interest in oral labour history are welcome to participate. If you would like to attend, please contact Michael Gold ( or Linda Clarke (


Coffee/ tea 10.30am

11.00am: Welcome and introduction: Stefan Dickers, Bishopsgate Institute

11.15 – 11.45 Opening address:

·         Historians, Work and Memory – Anna Davin

11.45 – 12.00 Michael Gold – Oral Labour History – followed by:

12.00 – 1.00pm B@W updates: Round table introductions:

Five minutes from everyone (if they wish), saying who they are, the project(s) they are involved in and their interest in oral labour history

1.00 – 1.45pm lunch

Presentations and panel discussions (in plenaries)

·         1.45 – 2.30            “I often thought they were in wi’ the management behind wur backs”: female factory occupations and the labour movement in early 1980s . Andy Clark, University of Strathclyde

·         2.30 – 3.15            The work-in at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital: mobilising resistance to NHS restructuring. lan Tuckman, one of the founders of

3.15 – 3.30      Break

·         3.30 – 4.15            The unknown achievements of the 15 February 2003 anti-Iraq War march – Ian Sinclair, author of ‘The March that Shook Blair’, published by Peace News Press

4.15 – 4.30      Conclusions

4.30                 Close


Anna Davin:

Anna is a feminist and socialist, and a founding member of the History Workshop Journal editorial collective. Her publications include Growing Up Poor: Home, School and Street in London, 1870-1914 (1996) and articles exploring class, gender, age and national identity, in London and New Zealand.
Andy Clark:

Andy is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Strathclyde, working with the Scottish Oral History Centre. He has an MA from Central Michigan University.

Alan Tuckman:

Alan is currently Visiting Fellow at University of Loughborough and Honorary Fellow at the Centre of Industrial Relations at Keele University, and has researched widely on industrial relations.

Ian Sinclair:

Ian is a freelance writer based in London and the author of The March That Shook Blair: An Oral History of 15 February 2003, published by Peace News Press.

In Solidarity


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