A Lancaster-based arts and heritage charity is ringing in the New Year in the best way possible after securing £36,400 in Heritage Lottery Funding.
Thanks to National Lottery players, the award will fund a wide-ranging programme of events for Mirador, revealing the extraordinary content of one of the most important collections of oral history testimonies in the UK.
Walking In Others Footsteps is a five-month programme that will shine a light on the Elizabeth Roberts Working Class Oral History Archive currently being digitised by Lancaster University’s Regional Heritage Centre.
Collected in the 1970s when oral history was a relatively new form of data collection, the Archive is an outstanding and important source for the history of working class life in north west England.
Its digitisation will give more people access to it online and Mirador’s project will highlight its remarkable content.
Mirador trustee George Harris said: “To have won the support of HLF is wonderful and allows us to achieve our ambitions to promote the archive within the communities in which the original recordings were made – Preston, Lancaster and Barrow.”
The archive formed the basis for Dr Roberts’ groundbreaking work on working class life in industrial towns and is notably extensive, containing 545 tape recordings, 3 million words, questionnaires and transcripts of interviews.
George added: “This archive is a unique resource, through which we can hear the voices of people born at the end of the 19th Century and early in the 20th Century sharing their perspectives on the timeless themes of birth, love, marriage, play, health, work, family and death.’
“Our project, which will include a creative documentary film, will be original, highly accessible, encourage participation where possible and be fun.”
Thanks to National Lottery Players, Mirador will lead a community engagement programme across Preston, Barrow and Lancaster, school sessions, public talks and drop-in events for the current residents of each area to discuss their own contemporary experiences of the themes covered in the archive.
The film, utilising the archive and newly recorded oral histories, will demonstrate how voices of the past can connect with modern life.
Mirador will organise a celebration for the film’s premiere as well as screening it in each of the three towns.