Today our Memory Bank Champions gathered for the first time at Central Library for an introductory session to kick-start our programme. Our minibus was greeted by David Govier from Central Library’s Archives who, along with Jackie Ould from the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah Education Trust, gave us a guided tour of the library’s interactive digital exhibits area on the ground floor. Displays in this area can combine digital imagery (video, photographs and scanned documents) with sound recordings. We were told how our oral history work on the programme could help to add fresh detail to existing archive material, enhancing (for example) an existing photograph with an audio recollection of the scene.
The group moved on then to the special collections area in the library, where David had prepared for us a wide range of the archive’s material from Burnage. We were shown a map from 1838 displaying Lord Egerton’s land holdings in the area, listing each field along with its tenant and the annual rates they paid for the privilege. Other items included a book detailing licensees and their premises, along with some scanned booklets relating to St. Nicholas’s Church on Kingsway. Of special interest was a collection of wonderfully preserved scouting log books from the 1930s.
Our party was then taken by Jackie into the meeting room by the Ahmed Iqbal Ullah library where, while we enjoyed cups of tea, Jackie described her experiences in gathering oral history from many of Manchester’s minority communities. She showed us some of the material created by the trust, including posters, books and some sample oral history recordings stored on DVD. Sharing too some of the pitfalls experienced when recording people’s testimonies (beware intrusive noise from fridges and lights!), she reflected again on the fact that oral histories created now may be of real assistance to future study.
Many thanks to Jackie and David for their tremendous assistance today, we all left enthused about the project to come.