Network: Oral History Collective

A series of events organised by the Oral History Collective: an AHRC-WRoCAH funded Student Led Forum organised and run by postgraduate researchers at the Universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York.

Our work aims to promote the making and use of oral histories by providing space and training opportunities for PGRs and ECRs to exchange ideas, knowledge and research. We believe oral histories are powerful, personal ways to (re)learn the lived experience of individuals and recover marginalised voices silenced or eschewed by the boundaries of dominant archives.

Our network is free and open to anyone interested in oral methodologies. Follow us on X (formerly known as Twitter) at @OHC_SLF. Contact us by email at oralhistorycollective.wrocah[at]


Forthcoming events

Event 2: Conducting Interviews (01 March 2023)

Our second event will deep-dive into conducting interviews with individuals and groups in person and online. Our core speakers will their share experience of first-hand oral history making.

Our core speakers will be:

Register for the event here, using Microsoft Forms (no Microsoft account is required)

Future events

Event 4: Knowledge Exchange (date tbc)

Further information tbc.

Past events

Event 1: Planning and Preparing (28 November 2023)

Three key speakers and a Q&A expert shared their experiences and understanding of the core preparatory processes that require consideration before undertaking oral history-making. The topics discussed included ethical considerations, differences in international regulations and the emotional and mental well-being of the interviewer and interviewee. Whether you have worked with oral methodologies in the past or this is the first time you have considered working with oral testimonies, this event was a stimulating transdiciplinary conversation on methods (with a free buffet).


Paper One

Josh Alston (University of Leeds), ‘Not Planning an Oral History Project: Conducting an accidental oral history project’

Josh Alston says: “I am a PGR finishing a project on Jewish experiences of whiteness in South Africa at the University of Leeds. I consider myself broadly a historian of race within white supremacist societies. My research has focused on the intersection between Jewish and whiteness studies, with a particular emphasis on settler colonial contexts. I conducted about 40 interviews for my project with a variety of Jewish South Africans.”

Paper Two

Olivia Wyatt (Queen Mary, University of London), ‘Uses and Abuses: Oral narratives in the reconstruction of Black British History’

Olivia Wyatt (she/her) is a PhD student and Teaching Associate at QMUL whose research investigates the politics of complexion within Black British communities throughout the twentieth century. She recently co-organised The Issue of Truth: Representing Black British history conference at the Institute of Historical Research. Previously she worked on projects that explored the community activism of Black women in Leeds, the contributions of African women to the British health service (Young Historians Project) and the imperial connections between the Lascelles family and the Caribbean (Harewood House Trust). She is also a recipient of the Women’s History Network MA Dissertation Prize, the Marion Sharples Prize and the ACAP Inspirational Young Person of the Year Award.

Paper Three

Dr Sam Smith (University of Sheffield), ‘Oral History in Health and Social Care: Ethics and processes’

Sam Smith is a trainer for the Oral History Society and National Life Stories Dept at The British Library. He is also a regional networker for the Oral History Society in Yorkshire. He has over 15 years experience of working as an oral historian, including coordinating an oral history service in palliative and supportive care for Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. Other clients have included Health Education England and English Heritage. He recently completed a PhD at the University of Sheffield: ‘Understanding oral history in palliative and supportive care: a constructivist grounded theory study’. He is an honorary teacher in the School of Nursing and Midwifery at the University of Sheffield and regularly lectures in oral history and digital legacy.

Paper Four

Professor Julia Barrow (University of Leeds), Ethics Q&A session

Julia Barrow has been Professor of Medieval Studies at Leeds since 2012. She is a medievalist specialising in the history of bishops and clergy and in the study of medieval charters. She has been the School of History Research Ethics lead for the last four years.

Network organisers

Megan Graham

Megan Graham (University of Leeds)

Diana Unterhitzenberger

Diana Unterhitzenberger (University of York)

Matthew Hurst

Matthew Hurst (University of York)

Lou Khalfaoui

Lou Khalfaoui (University of Leeds)

An ear poking through a piece of white paper

Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore (University of Sheffield)

Megan Graham (University of Leeds)

Megan is a PhD student researching with the School of History at the University of Leeds. Her current research explores Indigenous Health Activism in settler colonial Australia, where she explores how community-controlled health organisations bridged politics of health to politics of identity by engaging with transnational discourses of Black Power and decoloniality in the 1970s. Meg is the lead organiser of the Oral History Collective and has special interests in experimenting with Research Methods and interrogating archives as a site of contested knowledge and power.

Diana Unterhitzenberger (University of York)

Diana is a PhD student at the University of York exploring Cultural Heritage Management. Her research project looks at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin and investigates how the values attached to this Cold War heritage site have been changing over the past 60 years. Diana will be interviewing different people about their connection to the site, including authorities, heritage professionals and citizens. As both the management and the history of the site continue to be contested, Diana looks forward to discussing approaches to conducting interviews in a considerate, ethical and sensitive manner in our seminar series. 

Matthew Hurst (University of York)

Matthew is a PhD student at the History Department, the University of York. His PhD examines UK-China-Hong Kong political relations during the 1980-90s. This project grew from his Master’s thesis in Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Oxford. A section of his thesis was recently published in The International History Review (DOI: 10.1080/07075332.2021.2024588) and won the Political Studies Association Conservatism Studies Group 2022 Research Prize. Matthew hopes to incorporate oral histories into his current research.

Lou Khalfaoui (University of Leeds)

Lou is a PhD student at the University of Leeds working across the School of History and the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies. Her research focuses on the construction of colonial violence in official discourses of the French and Algerian states over the last 24 years years. Lou applies the social science method of discourse analysis to speeches, public statements and interviews of state actors to highlight the maintenance and disruption of particular framings. These discourses serve to contextualise contemporary memory-focused policies seeking appeasement and ‘reconciliation. Lou’s thesis will integrate oral histories of civil society actors who organise around the memory of colonial violence, to illustrate the reception of official discourses and their contestation.

Thomas Moore (University of Sheffield)

Thomas’ current PhD title is ‘Can Confucianism’s Relational and Rooted Picture of the Self Help Us Understand the Values of Modern National (Right-Wing) Populist Voters in the UK and US?’ This is trying to learn lessons from Confucianism to understand the state of modern Western politics better. He is working on this project from October 2022 to April 2026.
He is also interested in the relationship between Confucianism and democracy in East Asian countries and is currently working on a paper entitled ‘Is Confucianism Synthesisable with a Laclauian Conception of Democracy?’. This is based on an MA essay that was submitted to the University of Sheffield on 6th June 2022.


This network is funded by the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH).

Photo by Franco Antonio Giovanella on Unsplash.