Oral historians

Brooks, Margaret (4 of 8).  Oral History of Oral History

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  • Recording date

    2013-02-12, 2013-04-09, 2013-05-15, 2013-07-16, 2013-09-053-07-17, 2013-09-24, 2013-11-13, 2013-12-04, 2014-01-22, 2014-02-19

  • Recording locations

    The British Library

  • Interviewees

    Brooks, Margaret (speaker, female)

  • Interviewers

    Wilkinson, Robert (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 4: David Lance had taken advice from the BBC and the Central Office of Information He was advised to have Leevers -Rich studio machines and Nagra and Uher recording machines. Nagra machines quite heavy and were therefore primarily used in the museum. Talks about recording speeds, tapes and cataloguing. Backup copies. Uher cassette machine had a hiss then tried Marantz with noise reduction machines. Public use of the recordings. Digitising made changes over to mp3 versions. Problems with Ampex 406 tape which was hydroscopic and had to be copied. [10:30] Accessioning numbers. Archive masters were sent to Duxford after that site opened as a museum. In 1968 a small bomb was let off in the museum so precautions needed to be made. Microphones table mikes were used initially then clip on in late 1970s. A technician called Lloyd Stickells was employed from 1975-9. He created two tracks for interviews with the interviewer only on one recording. Original cassette tapes became the working copy and a master was made on high quality tape. [20:18] There were separate collections with their own cataloguing at the IWM. This became problematic as time went on especially when there was an obvious link between different collections. [23:25] Margaret was the main interviewer, David did interviews and they started to employ a cataloguer. They tried to do typescripts of the interviews for several years. People used to search the catalogue for subjects and could transcribe as they wish. People used to use their office for listening, then a listening room (Special Facilities Room) was made available. Describes who used the sound archive including novelists and actors as well as academics researching dialects. For example, Sarah Harrison wrote a book about the First World War and Ralph Fiennes researched his character Amon Goth for Schindlers List. They used user record cards for visitors. From 1980s they had funding to produce printed catalogues on different topics. Frustrations in early days as not well publicised people found them largely by word of mouth. [37:40] Director of IWM was Noble Frankland. Describes other senior staff roles and head of department meetings. However no integration except by chance. [42:00] Used freelance and volunteer interviewers. Training was given. Two freelancers became salaried. Peter Hart, a cataloguer went over to interviewing. Conrad Wood initially interviewed people who had served in India. The interviewer completed the processing card. Interview information sheet also completed with a short summary. Interviews were shorter than perhaps now. Cassettes possibly encouraged longer interviews due to size and weight. Freelancers paid by the half hour produced. [56:00] Interviewers generally recruited by word of mouth. Staffing increased over time. Describes some of the posts. Maximum level of staff in the department was in the 1980s: eight as well as freelancers. Freelance cataloguers never worked. Use of typists. [1:04:04] David Lance left in 1983, before then Margaret had become his deputy. How they found interviewees . One occasion they wrote to the Daily Telegraph and had too many people writing in. Better to contact regimental associations, etc. They did have individuals writing or ringing in. Interviews of the Spanish Civil War started in 1976 easy to find people who had served in the International Brigade less so those who had served with the Nationalists. Mentions an interview with Frances Farmborough, a nurse on the Eastern Front. Off recording she said she had volunteered for Francos forces but would not talk on the tape. Issues with David Lances one subject at a time. First World War interviewees might have memories of the Boer War etc.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Margaret Brooks, former archivist and head of the Imperial War Museum’s Sound Archive.

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