Witness

Witness

Oral History Project at the University of Sheffield
Full list of Witness Oral Histories
The following list is the full collection of Oral Histories collected by the Witness project, organised by year. Hovering on a link will provide a summary of the interview. Clicking on the link will direct...
WALKLEY ACTION GROUP
Walkley is a suburb to the North-West of Sheffield city centre. The close-knit community that thrives there today is a result of strong community action in the late sixties and early seventies. In 1970 Walkley...

About Us

The Witness Project is based at the University of Sheffield’s History Department. Witness was set up in 2011 by two of the department’s historians, Charles West and Andrew Heath, to collect and preserve Sheffield’s past through the medium of oral history. The interviews are carried out by trained history students in their second year who are tasked with recruiting participants from the local community conducting a number of interviews.

Common themes include Sheffield during World War II, local politics, youth culture, the Miners’ Strikes and the impact of deindustrialisation on Sheffield and its community.

The Witness Project is now in its sixth year. Over the years we have collected many hours of valuable oral histories which are readily accessible via our online archive. Our work has uncovered lesser known aspects of Sheffield’s history, as well as some personal thoughts and anecdotes that provide a valuable insight into life in Sheffield in the twentieth century. We have interviews covering everything from the Sheffield Blitz and rationing, to Sheffield’s nightclubs!

During 2013 – 2014 the Witness Project collaborated with the Walkley Historians. Walkley Historians is a community history group researching the history of the Sheffield suburb of Walkley. Our collaboration focused on the work of the Walkley Action Group during the 1970s, and their fight against the planned slum clearance of much of Walkley. This community activist group was one of the first of its kind in Britain. As part of our collaboration, the archival material of the Walkley Action Group, and related materials, have been made available on our website. This archive presents a vast range of resources to researchers interested in community activism, urban planning and local politics.

In the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 period Witness has expanded to run a series of workshops on oral history with local Key Stage 3 students, after which they conduct their own oral history interviews on childhood. The project culminates in a visit to the University where the students reflect on modern childhood, using their interviews as source material.

Thanks to all those who’ve supported the Witness oral history project: all our interviewers and interviewees, and especially Charles West, Andrew Heath, Daniel Lee, Michelle Winslow, Jessica Hill, Richita Bhattacharyya, Sarah Kenny, Liz Goodwin, Georgia Trelogan and James Pearson.

This year Witness has been interviewing people to find out what it was like to grow up Jewish in Sheffield during and after the Second World War.

Project on Jewish Sheffield

Photo of Nathan Lapatnick, who fled the Russian Empire in 1890

Witness, together with students in the university, have produced an insightful and fascinating project interviewing and exploring the lives of Jewish communities living in and around Sheffield. Focusing upon life during the 20th century growing up in the city of Sheffield, many interviewees gave their personal testimonies to their own individual circumstances as well as experiences of or after World War II. This Oral History Project adds to our ever-growing discovering of Sheffield's history.

Interview with Jack Cooper
Interview: keyword transcript Main themes covered: To follow. To follow. Interviewer: Charlene Bates
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Interview with Joan Creswick
Interview: keyword transcript Main themes covered: To follow. To follow. Interviewer: Charlene Bates
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Interview with Mary Jupe
Interview: keyword transcript Main themes covered: To follow. To follow. Interviewer: Aggi Yates
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Interview with Liz Carlson
Interview: keyword transcript Main themes covered: War, jobs, daughter. 00.00-01.10 War. Rationing. Black Market. 01.10-02.06 Grandfather. Railway job. 02.06-02.35 Anderson shelters. Blitz 02.40-04.13 Her mother...
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Interview with Grace Jackson
Interview: keyword transcript Main themes: Religion, disability, life in sheltered housing. 00:00-00.40 General introduction 00:40-03:35 Her closest family relations and her son. 03:35-06:30 Her husband’s...
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Interview with Patricia Parlett
Interview: keyword transcript Main themes: Childhood, family, jobs, school, weddings, holidays and children. 00.00-03.00: Childhood: birth, name, memories of parents, siblings 03.00-05.00: Family trade 05.00-06.00:...
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Interview with Philip Hunt
Interview: keyword transcript Main themes: Religion, disability, life in sheltered housing. 00:00:30 Childhood and hospital admissions 00:04:00 Family and sibling relationships 00:05:20 Further education and...
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Interview with Connie Winders
Interview: keyword transcript Main Themes Covered: Sheffield and Grenoside during WW2, the Blitz, Dealing with illness, life as an older person in Sheffield now. 0-1:30:...
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Dr Michelle Winslow – The Oral History Services Project
The Oral History Services Project works with people with life-threatening or potentially life-limiting conditions within the STH NHS Foundation Trust to create life story audio...
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Interview with Avril Lappin
Interview with Avril Lappin
Interview: keyword transcript Interview: reflective piece (To follow) Avril Lappin's Reflections on being interviewed. I was born in 1948, in the shadow of the 2nd...
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Interview with Carole Sayliss and David Sayliss
Interview with Carole Sayliss and David Sayliss
Interview: keyword transcript Interview: reflective piece (To follow) Interviewers: Tilly Stott, Thomas Holt and Amy Federski.
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Interview with Ruth Sayliss
Interview with Ruth Sayliss
Interview: keyword transcript Interview: reflective piece The Witness project provided an interesting opportunity to track the history of Sheffield and Leeds. Our focus throughout the...
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Interview with Jill Shaw
Interview with Jill Shaw
Interview: keyword transcript Interview: reflective piece When I decided to take part in the Witness Project, my motivations stemmed from a desire to undertake my own...
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Interview with Jeanette Rubinstein
Interview with Jeanette Rubinstein
Interview: keyword transcript Interview: reflective piece (To follow) Interviewers: Tilly Stott, Thomas Holt and Amy Federski.
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Interview with Pauline Woolf
Interview with Pauline Woolf
Interview: keyword transcript Interview: reflective piece The Witness project provided an interesting opportunity to track the history of Sheffield and Leeds. Our focus throughout the...
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Interview with Judy Simons
Interview with Judy Simons
Interview 1: keyword transcript Interview 2: keyword transcript Interview: reflective piece Molly: The experience of participating in the Witness project was very much different from...
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Interview with Eric Sayliss
Interview with Eric Sayliss
Interview: keyword transcript Interview: reflective piece (To follow) Interviewers: Thomas hunt
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Interview with Rolf Heymann
Interview with Rolf Heymann
Interview: keyword transcript Interview: reflective piece (To follow) Interviewers: Freddie Coombes, Bethan Hughes and Kasturi Pindar
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Featured: Jewish Sheffield

The Woolman family is of a Jewish family who travelled to the UK from Lithuania in the 1860s and settled in Sheffield. The orphan boy is my father, David Brown, whose mother was Annie Woolman, and who was brought up in Sheffield by his grandparents, Mark and Fanny Woolman after his parents’ deaths when he was six. You will see that there is a picture of Paradise Square which was the centre of Jewish life in the early years of the twentieth century, and a picture of the Hebrew School in 1910. There is also a photo of the science class at the Central School, Sheffield, in 1926, which includes my father. Note the bare boards on the school​ room floor.

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