Voices of the Bottle Ovens: Oral history in Stoke-on-Trent

Dr Chris Montgomery, lecturer in dialectology at the University of Sheffield, tells us about his project which has received support from the Engaged Curriculum Project.

This project will see students studying English Language and Linguistics work in partnership with the Gladstone Pottery Museum, Stoke-on-Trent, to create oral history excerpts for visitors to the museum. These excerpts will be selected and edited using a pre-existing oral history archive stored by Stoke-on-Trent’s museums.

The Gladstone Pottery Museum is a well-attended working pottery museum in Stoke-on-Trent which demonstrates the processes of traditional pottery making in the heart of an area renowned for its ceramic production. It is constantly seeking to further engage visitors with all aspects of the site, one way of which is to use its oral history collection.

The oral history collection, linguistic aspects of which are currently being studied by Hannah Leach, a PhD student at the University of Sheffield, is an otherwise underused resource. The students working on this project will provide a way to bring the voices of those involved to new listeners, and allow increased engagement with the museum. The audio excerpts will be housed in converted phones in the museum’s Gladstone Room, which is to be re-launched to mark the 40th anniversary of the museum’s opening

The aims of the project are:

  • To involve students in a project that requires them to work in partnership with the Gladstone Pottery Museum and its staff
  • To produce audio excerpts for the museum that will further increase engagement amongst visitors
  • To work with an underused resource in order to tell the stories of the people recorded and publicise the archive

Further blog posts will detail the progress of the project, and a launch event will take place in January 2015.

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