Oral history projects in Northamptonshire
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Village Voices was an oral history project designed to record how life in rural Northamptonshire has changed since World War Two. It aimed to conserve the spoken heritage of these rural communities by recording interviews and transcribing conversations with individuals across the county to create a comprehensive addition to the county’s rich archive with a unique collection of memories. The project involved people from a wide variety of community groups across the county. They were encouraged to identify themes of value to them and to freely explore and develop their thoughts and experiences, promoting community involvement and ownership of the project and celebrating and learning about the unique heritage of their rural community. Transcribed interviews were made available as an educational resource alongside digital recordings and were also archived at the County Record Office in Northampton. The project was led by Northamptonshire Action with Communities in Rural England (NACRE). It was awarded £49,900 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and £2,287 from the Welland Community Grant Pot.
A History of Rushden: Hearts and Soles looks back on the town of Rushden's shoe-making heritage, which was also closely linked with the growth of non-conformism in the area. The project produced a website and an exhibition kiosk sited at Rushden Museum featuring digital recordings. The project was led by Rushden and District History Society Research Group and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. More Information is available on the Rushden Research website.
The Blisworth Heritage Project, led by Blisworth Heritage Society, encouraged local interest and participation in village heritage. It worked with materials from local historian George Freeston, as well as oral histories and record office information. Its work with children in the area, through local schools created enthusiasm for the village and its heritage. The project also highlighted the area as a site of interest to visitors and special interest groups. A series of historic routes around Blisworth and its canal was published via a walking guide leaflet and interpretation boards for the benefit of visitors, canal users and the local community. The group's work with schools produced a children’s heritage trail and pamphlet and a community performance based on histories of life in the village. The project received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £15,785.
The West Haddon Local History Archives project aimed to create a community archive about the village of West Haddon. It collected census material, a survey of memorials in the local churchyard, information from wills and deeds, photographs and a complete transcript of local Parish registers, to create a database of resources. Oral histories were collected from older members of the village. The project was led by West Haddon Local History Group. It received a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £12,320.
The Proud of Kettering project researched social, industrial and geographical changes in Kettering over 150 years. Findings were presented in an interactive CD/DVD with an accompanying booklet. A launch event invited the local community to come together to learn about the project, share memories and bring along memorabilia. Copies of the booklet were given to schools, libraries, museums and care homes within the Kettering area. The project received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £19,956.
The Northamptonshire Black History Project was the result of a three year community-led initiative which aimed to record and promote the histories and stories of Northamptonshire's Black communities and individuals over at least the past 500 years. The project carried out historical research to reveal the Black presence by looking at newspapers, parish records, paintings, photographs, gravestones and other media. It undertook community archiving to preserve the records of today's Black communities and individuals for future generations. An oral history strand of the project documented the stories and experiences of people living in contemporary Northamptonshire. Interviews were archived for public access at Northamptonshire Record Office. Summaries are available in the reference sections of Northamptonshire's Libraries. The project was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, The Home Office, Lloyds TSB Foundation and a number of other agencies. The work of the project is continued by The Northamptonshire Black History Society.
Bradlaugh Past aimed to investigate the history of the park of Bradlaugh Fields in the town of Northampton. It was developed by the Bradlaugh Barns Association in partnership with a public consultation. Research hoped to uncover the role people played in relation to the natural, industrial and built heritage of Bradlaugh Fields, which historically had been a farm, a medieval quarry and a golf course. Proposed housing development on the site also provoked community interest in the Fields. The project had three stages: research of the history of the Fields through archives and oral reminiscence; presentation of information through a booklet, wall hangings, display and heritage walks; and a celebration event including heritage walks. Bradlaugh Fields are owned by Northamptonshire County Council. They are made up of parkland and two nature reserves which are managed by the Wildlife Trust for Northamptonshire with the help of local volunteers. Despite being surrounded by urban development the Fields contain a variety of important habitats including rare limestone grassland and many ancient hedgerows. Contact: . The project received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £24,148.
The Sulgrave Characters and Heritage Project recorded the memories of villagers of Sulgrave to create an archive of transcribed oral history interviews with over 40 local residents. Copies were deposited with the Northampton County Record Office. The project was awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £10,574. More information is available on the Sulgrave History Society website.
The Cogenhoe and Whiston Heritage Society was set up to highlight and record the area's heritage for future generations. The Cogenhoe and Whiston Oral History Project involved research into the social, employment and industrial history of the Parish, which includes ironstone quarrying, boot and shoe trades and railways, during the 20th century. Sixty interviews were conducted with people who lived in the parish during that period, the majority of whom still reside in the village today. Interviews were transcribed and compiled with archived photographs into a book and double CD. The project received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £9,282.
The Spratton Photographic History Book project improved public access to information held in local archives by reproducing, in book and CD form, some of the many photographs held in the village archives. It raised awareness of the built, natural, industrial and cultural heritage of Spratton. The local community were involved in researching the background to the photographs and provided captions based on oral histories gathered through the project. Genealogical information was also made available. Open events were held with photographs exhibited and opportunities for local people to share information or add to the archive. The project received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £16,565. More information can be found on the Spratton Local History Society website.