Listening to the Past

Robert Perks explains the value of sound archives in the armoury of the modern historian, and introduces Britain’s premier collection of recorded speech.

Until relatively recently tape-recorded interviews, speeches, events and radio broadcasts have rarely found the prominence they deserve in the historian’s toolkit. Despite the rising popularity of oral history, particularly at school level and amongst local historians, audio documents remain underused. This is surprising given the range of material accessible through a network of national, regional and local sound archives, record offices, libraries and museums, and increasingly on-line.

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