Upon completion of the Witness Oral History Project, we are taking a moment to reflect on our experience. Having interviewed Alan Spier, our understanding and knowledge of the Jewish community in Sheffield has increased greatly. It was particularly fascinating to hear about the changing dynamics and evolution of Jewish communities in Britain. The importance of recording oral history accounts became clear to us throughout the interview; the diminishing size of Jewish communities highlights the importance of preserving histories, anecdotes and stories from within.
We would thoroughly encourage future students to take part in a similar project. Not only have we learnt new skills which are transferable to our course, but we have further had the chance to learn about something which we previously knew little about. In itself, this has made the project completely worthwhile. The relaxed nature of the project made it entirely flexible to our academic timetable, and we were able to take things into our own hands with regards to arranging the interview and doing the follow-up work. This not only built our independence, but guaranteed that the whole process occurred stress-free. The day of the interview ran smoothly, and allowed us to visit a completely new part of Sheffield. Despite being somewhat nervous prior to meeting Alan and conducting the interview, the setting was welcoming and relaxed, allowing us to conduct the interview in a more informal and chat-like manner.
Given the opportunity, we would have liked to go back and interview Alan once more to further enrich our understanding and gain further insight. Nevertheless, through spending less than an hour with Alan, it was clear to us just how much we could learn and the importance of preserving oral history records. It has been a privilege to add to the historical records for this community in Sheffield, and we hope our interviews form a worthwhile addition to the archives. In itself, learning about the city in which we study externally to the university bubble has further broadened our views of the city and how we experience living in it day to day.
It has been an honour to take part in such an important and enriching project, and we would all strongly urge future students to get involved when opportunities to take part in similar projects arise. We would have no hesitations about doing the project again, and it has been a truly rewarding experience.
Interviewers: Sadie Cole, Lee Norton and Freddie Black