New history centre scores a UK first.
A NEW Centre for Oral History Research has been launched at Huddersfield University, making it the only centre of its kind outside London.
The centre, which was launched by director and media lecturer Steve Kelly, was set up to act as a catalyst for the growing number of oral history projects within the School of Music, Humanities and Media.
Although primarily part of the Media department, the centre collaborates closely with the History department, particularly with the new MA in Oral History, which was also launched this year.
The centre is currently home to a number of successful regional projects, all of which have highly successful websites.
The largest of these, Up and Under, is an oral history of rugby league in West Yorkshire.
Funded by an pounds 85,000 grant from Huddersfield University, project manager Dr Rob Light records and then disseminates the oral reminiscences of the Rugby League community in West Yorkshire - players, officials and spectators - and preserves, celebrates and broadens recognition of the sport's rich social and cultural history in the region.
Kelly said: "Oral history is important because it's about ordinary people talking about their own experiences.
"Ordinary people do have something important to say about the way things were, often not as formally as written history but with many more illustrative anecdotes.
"Older people have very different life experiences to those of the younger generation, and these rich experiences need to be passed down the generations to be preserved, so that we can learn about the way things were.
"There is a fundamental desire in people to know about how things used to be, and by capturing these memories we are ensuring future generations have a better understanding of where we come from."
As well as Up and Under, the centre is also home to Two Minute Silence, a project funded by the Museums, Libraries Archives Council (MLA) to collect thoughts and memories about war and peace, to mark next year's (2009) 90th anniversary of the Remembrance Day two-minute silence.
It is run by broadcaster Clare Jenkins who is also Visiting Fellow in Oral History at the university. On November 11, the project's website had a staggering 11,000 hits.
A third project, Asian Voices, is a two-year scheme supported by pounds 50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
This project is collecting the memories of the first immigrant communities coming into Huddersfield during the 1950s and 1960s.
Project manager Nafhesa Ali aims to find out how they settled in the area, what brought them here, where they lived, and what specific problems they faced.
ABOVE: Huddersfield v Hull at Fartown on April 26, 1952; left to right, Up and Under project manager Dr Rob Light, Asian Voices project manager Nafhesa Ali, and director and media lecturer Steve Kelly (Fartown v Hull: Kirklees ref: ke06723, Examiner ref: 52-1651; Rob Light ED010406-1381-01, order ref: 1381-1-06; Steve Kelly, order ref: 4807a/24/02)