Oral History and the History of Childhood: A One-Day Workshop – CALL FOR PAPERS

Date / time: 20 September, 11:59 pm

Oral History and the History of Childhood: A One-Day Workshop - CALL FOR PAPERS


Workshop | Friday 4 April 2025|  University of Sheffield

Oral History and the History of Childhood: A One-Day Workshop

Call for Papers, deadline – Friday 20 September 2024

This one-day workshop at the University of Sheffield seeks to explore the scholarly landscape where the history of childhood meets oral history across different chronological periods and in different parts of the world. By bringing together historians of childhood with an interest in oral history and oral historians working in childhood studies we aim to explore the meanings and significance of childhood as well as the lived experiences of being a child in the past through oral history methods. All historians of childhood, especially those working in countries with limited literacy and written cultures, have struggled to find documents and written records that can shed light on the perceptions and practices of children in the past.

Oral history is often seen to hold out the promise of accessing the world of past childhoods through the eyes of today’s adults and in some way to compensate for the lack of written documents. Even in cases where text-based sources exist, the holdings of national archives regarding children are often limited to documents that focus on the ideals and campaigns of governments in the form of policy drafts, surveying reports, consultations with charity organisations, debates on the state of primary education etc. which largely fail to convey the social fabric of childhood from the child’s perspective. We are keen to explore the potential for oral history methods to enable historians to recover experiences of childhood as lived by people who were born as early as the first couple of decades of the twentieth century.

In this workshop, we are keen to hear from researchers who have explored connections between oral history and histories of childhood.

Possible topics include but are not limited to:

  • The methodological possibilities offered by combining oral history and the history of childhood
  • How oral history can help historians of childhood to overcome the danger of losing invaluable data regarding past childhoods
  • Examples of oral history work that give insights into the lived experience of childhoods in the past.
  • Examples of histories of childhood that employ the oral history method
  • The advantages and disadvantages of using oral history methodology when researching the history of childhood
  • Conducting oral history projects in order to explore the gendered practices of being a child in the past
  • Exploring the past practices of childhood, motherhood, fatherhood and sibling relationships through oral history
  • Collecting historical data on any aspects of childhood such as illness, disability, schooling, employment, entertainment, games, toys, clothing, literature, architecture etc through oral history methods

Please send proposals of no more than 250 words together with a short bio to Dr Heather Ellis (University of Sheffield) at h.l.ellis@sheffield.ac.uk by Friday 20 September 2024