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 ran 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 culminated in a visit to the University where the students reflect on modern childhood, using their interviews as source material.

In 2016-17, Witness took on the question of Jewish Sheffield; in 2017-18, we began to collaborate with the U3A group in Sheffield

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, Will Roberts and James Pearson.

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 Steve Bush
Interviewers: Laura Neilson Transcript: Steve Bush keyword transcript (pdf)
Read More "Interview with Steve Bush"
Interview with Jo Burns
Interviewers: Laura Neilson Transcript: Jo Burns keyword transcript (pdf)
Read More "Interview with Jo Burns"
Interview with John Dixon
" Interviewers: Katherine Leigh Transcript: Katy Leigh interviewing John Dixon (PDF)
Read More "Interview with John Dixon"
Interview with Sue Beardon
" Interviewers: Torin Page Transcript Torin Page interviewing Sue Beardon (pdf)
Read More "Interview with Sue Beardon"
Interview with Shelagh Woolliscroft
Interviewers: Isobel Ashby Isobel Ashby interviewing SHELAGH WOOLLISCROFT transcript (PDF)
Read More "Interview with Shelagh Woolliscroft"
Interview with Angela Lam
"" Isobel Ashby ANGELA LAM transcript (PDF) Interviewer: Isobel Ashby  
Read More "Interview with Angela Lam"
Interview with Jack Cooper
 Interview: keyword transcript Main themes covered: To follow. To follow. Interviewer: Charlene Bates
Read More "Interview with Jack Cooper"
Interview with Joan Creswick
Interview: keyword transcript Main themes covered: To follow. To follow. Interviewer: Charlene Bates
Read More "Interview with Joan Creswick"
Interview with Steve Bush
Interviewers: Laura Neilson Transcript: Steve Bush keyword transcript (pdf)
Read More "Interview with Steve Bush"
Interview with Jo Burns
Interviewers: Laura Neilson Transcript: Jo Burns keyword transcript (pdf)
Read More "Interview with Jo Burns"
Interview with John Dixon
" Interviewers: Katherine Leigh Transcript: Katy Leigh interviewing John Dixon (PDF)
Read More "Interview with John Dixon"
Interview with Sue Beardon
" Interviewers: Torin Page Transcript Torin Page interviewing Sue Beardon (pdf)
Read More "Interview with Sue Beardon"
Interview with Shelagh Woolliscroft
Interviewers: Isobel Ashby Isobel Ashby interviewing SHELAGH WOOLLISCROFT transcript (PDF)
Read More "Interview with Shelagh Woolliscroft"
Interview with Angela Lam
"" Isobel Ashby ANGELA LAM transcript (PDF) Interviewer: Isobel Ashby  
Read More "Interview with Angela Lam"
Interview with Jack Cooper
 Interview: keyword transcript Main themes covered: To follow. To follow. Interviewer: Charlene Bates
Read More "Interview with Jack Cooper"

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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Interview with Iris Clarke

 

Interview: keyword transcript

Interviewer: Hebe Hetherington