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Thursday, 1 November 2012

A People’s Oral History

What is Oral History?
Oral history is the study and documentation of history by collecting the memories of individuals and communities. Whether this be through audio or videotapes or by conducting interviews, it allows us to look at historical events, places and peoples with a fresh and personal perspective. Every story is important and deserves to be heard, so oral history can encourage and facilitate people to share their experiences, thus developing a richer understanding of the past. In particular, by recording people’s memories, we can learn not just about history, but about the way in which people connect with the past and how certain events, places, people and so on affected the people who engaged with them.

Community Stories:
I had an opportunity to sit in on some oral history being recorded earlier this year when I was shadowing the Royal Commission’s Medwyn Parry. We went to talk to a local resident, Hazel Jenkins, about her experiences and memories of Borth, Aberystwyth, during the Second World War. She used to help in the cafe of the West End Stores, where RAF personnel from MOS EE AA Ynyslas used to spend their evenings. Mrs Jenkins’ memories of working in Borth during the wartime give us a unique insight into the way the war affected those who lived there at the time and the general feeling of the village. In effect, this presents a fresh perspective on wartime in Wales and Borth itself.

West End Stores, Borth.
© Crown Copyright: RCAHMW DS2012_515_001
MOS EE AA Ynyslas Ancillary Building, Borth.
© Crown Copyright: RCAHMW DS2010_693_002

To read more about Mrs Jenkins’ story, please visit the People’s Collection Wales website.

Please feel free to contribute your own memories and experiences at:

Or to learn more about Oral History, the People’s Collection Wales and to tell your story in person, please come along to Memories Day on Saturday 3rd November at the Copper Kingdom Centre in Amlwch.

By: Sophie Gingell, CBA Community Archaeology Training Placement Holder with the Royal Commission

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