Oral Histories of Voluntary Action: An Interdisciplinary Workshop

In this guest post, Bridget Lockyer, one of our New Researchers, introduces an upcoming event for the group: Oral Histories of Voluntary Action: An Interdisciplinary Workshop, in association with the University of York’s Humanities Research Centre.

It’s been a few weeks since I was in a very sunny Huddersfield at the Voluntary Action History Society Conference. I was there to present a paper but also as part of the VAHS New Researchers Committee. As you probably know by now, VAHS New Researchers is sub-committee of postgraduates and early-career researchers working on voluntary action history. We organise workshops, seminars, bursaries and conference panels and have an online and face-to-face writing group. For me and my work, the committee has been a really invaluable and supportive network and I can’t recommend it enough for new researchers working in this general field.

On the last day of the conference, I was very pleased to receive the news that we had been awarded funding from the University of York’s Humanities Research Centre  to hold the next New Researchers workshop: Oral Histories of Voluntary Action: An Interdisciplinary Workshop. This event will be a free one-day workshop held at the University of York in early 2014. It will bring together new researchers who have used or are considering using oral history methods to explore the history of voluntary action and voluntary sector organisations.

Papers will focus on new researchers’ experiences of using oral history methods within the field of voluntary action history research. This will provide a space for new researchers to discuss the benefits and challenges of using oral history and share solutions for overcoming potential problems. The day will close with a round-table discussion led by experienced practitioners of oral history and voluntary action research. The round-table discussion will focus on the benefits and limitations of oral history methods. It will offer a chance for attendees to utilise the round-table panel’s expertise, to raise any current problems in need of troubleshooting and to obtain practical advice on interviewing.

This event is particularly timely and relevant. Voluntary action history is growing area of research, and in the current political and economic climate, the history of the voluntary sector over the twentieth century has been pulled into focus. Yet those undertaking this research often do not have the necessary skills to conduct interviews. This workshop aims to remedy this, and we know that there is a group of new researchers for whom this interdisciplinary event will be particularly useful. We hope to attract historians and sociologists of charity, social care, government policy, activism and economics, bringing together postgraduate and early career researchers on the theme of voluntary action research, encouraging lively discussion and the use of multi-method approaches.

More details and a CFP will follow shortly, but if you’re interested in attending the event feel free to e-mail me at: bridget.lockyer@york.ac.uk and follow b_lockyer on Twitter.

Have you used oral history in your research? What have your experiences been to date? Do you have any advice for our new researchers? Comments welcome below!

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