2 February 2018

The University’s Oral History Team’s BBC R4 documentary Instant History has been highly commended at the 2018 Royal Historical Society Public History Awards which took place at Mary Ward House in London on Friday 26 January.

The team from the University’s history department, which currently ranks number one for research impact in the Government’s Research Evaluation Framework, was commended in the Radio and Podcasts category by a distinguished judging panel which included Professor Mary Beard, well known for her television documentaries.

Memories matter

Instant History, a thought-provoking oral documentary, explores the issue of retirement and incorporates interviews with people from many walks of life who have either just retired or are about to cease full-time employment. Interviews took place as far afield as Llandudno, Scunthorpe, Ipswich and Cheltenham with interviewees from nursing, the steel industry, fire fighting, international engineering, teaching and supermarket management.  The project also featured numerous student and staff members from the University.

All the interviews took place across a single weekend in October 2016 as part of the instant history concept developed at Hertfordshire University by Visiting Research Fellow Andrew Green, Professor Owen Davies and Dr Anne Murphy. A previous BBC presenter and producer, Andrew joined the history department in 2008 to lecture and train staff and students in oral history interview techniques.

'This highly skilled team has enabled us to establish our renowned oral history archive'

Dr Anne Murphy, Reader in History, University of Hertfordshire said:

‘Andrew has developed a unique resource at the University of Hertfordshire of a huge team of students and staff who are carefully trained to help people tell their story and translate this into broadcast quality interviews. This highly skilled team has enabled us to establish our renowned oral history archive at our Heritage Hub, a repository for important local stories and projects and a store of memories for future historians.

‘Given the amount of history available in podcast and radio format, our commendation was a fantastic achievement. And showcasing the size, broadcast skills, staff/student collaboration and project management expertise of our Oral History Team led us to being offered another exciting commission during the awards event.’

Listen again to the Instant History oral documentary.