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Dig Where We Stand


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Archive for March, 2013

Dig Where We Stand goes to school

By Sarah B Dhanjal, on 25 March 2013

Andrew Flinn and Sarah Dhanjal went back to school on 12th March. Here’s Sarah’s account of the day:

The artist Alda Terracciano from Aldaterra (http://aldaterra.com/projects/the-living-archaeology-of-the-place/) asked DWWS to visit a school in Tulse Hill to talk to Year 2 and Year 4 about different ways of doing history.  As an archaeologist (me) and a historian (Andrew), we had so much we could fit into a session and definitely not enough time!  The Aldaterra project “The Living Archaeology of the Place” is looking at stories of the Afro-Brazilian experience in London.  After some discussion we decided to concentrate on oral history as most relevant to the project.

Our learning objectives were:

– there are different ways of finding out about the past

– there are different jobs people can do to find out about the past

– oral history involves interviewing people about their lives

– oral histories are recorded so other people can benefit from them.

We introduced ourselves to the class and gave a short introduction to UCL and universities.  With the class, we discussed archaeology, oral history and the many different ways we can find out about the past.  We were able to use our academic backgrounds to show that you can study various subjects and do different jobs to help add to our shared understanding of the past.  We then focused on what sort of questions an oral historian might ask.  Using two examples of people born  before World War II, we discussed what might have happened to them, what they would be able to tell us about their own lives and the important events they lived through.  The pupils had some brilliant ideas for questions and enthusiastically engaged with the task.


For the main activity we split the class into three groups and asked each group to formulate questions to ask the adult working with their group.  We discussed the need to ask questions that would make the person being interviewed feel comfortable with being recorded.  We also thought about the questions that we need to ask to make sure we capture all the important information we are looking for on the recording.  Finally we encouraged the pupils to think of questions that would make their interviewees reflect on the past rather than the present.  The children already wanted to find out more about us, so it was a good chance to channel some of their curiosity!

We then recorded interviews between the children and their adults.  The questions were great, exploring a wide range of our life experiences and interests:

“Has anyone in your family died?”

“How did you feel when you went to university?”

“What countries have you visited?”

“Did you go to this school?”

“Where did you meet your wife and why did she come to this country?”

“What is your favourite ice cream flavour?”

We finished by sharing some of the recordings with the whole class and discussing how they could use oral history in their project with Aldaterra.



We had a great time and we’d like to thank Aldaterra and all the teachers and pupils at the school.


Still Digging Where We Stand

By Sarah B Dhanjal, on 13 March 2013

Apologies for the prolonged bloggage silence.  Things have been busy here at Dig Where We Stand.  In a good way!

We have been awarded further funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and are working to support the following groups with their HLF All Our Stories projects:

  • ALDATERRA – the Living Archaeology of the Place
  • Welwyn Archaeological Society
  • Friends of Windmill Gardens – Mill Memories
  • The Paddington Arts – ‘Cultural Heritage of North Paddington’
  • East Finchley Community Trust – ‘Martin School – our school, our story’
  • Grove Park Community Group – Grove Park heritage and literary trail.
  • Jewish Cultural Centre – JEWISH EAST END
  • Hoxton Hall – Shoreditch Storybank
  • Mental Fight Club – the Spirit of Southwark
  • Narrative Eye – Black People in Tudor England
  • IROKO Theatre – Homage to Canning Town African Ancestors
  • The Cinema Museum, Community Curators – local cinema heritage
  •  Bexley Heritage Trust, Under your feet’ – exploring the Hidden Landscape at Hall Place
  • Jacksons Lane, A Borough United
  • Coin Street Centre Trust – Heritage sights and sounds
  • Catch-22 – Stories of Becontree

A trip to the Cinema Museum

chris orourke 1

Last week, Chris O’Rourke made his way to the Cinema Museum to join in with one of their events:

“I helped out at a Study Day for the ‘Picture Palaces’ project, which took place at the Cinema Museum.

For anyone who hasn’t been there, the Cinema Museum comprises a huge collection of objects to do with all aspects of filmgoing. It’s housed in what was once the Lambeth Workhouse, where Charlie Chaplin spent time as a child. Now the building is jammed wall-to-wall with film posters, projection kit, tip-up seats, ushers’ uniforms, and film memorabilia – most of it purchased or salvaged by the museum’s founders, Ronald Grant and Martin Humphries.

The ‘Picture Palaces’ project, which is being funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘All Our Stories’ strand, aims to draw attention to the local cinema heritage around Elephant and Castle and Kennington. Community curators, led by Abigail Tripp, are planning a series of events, building up to an exhibition later in the year, as well as collecting memories of filmgoing from Lambeth residents.

The Study Day was the first chance for volunteers and members of the local community to meet and swap ideas for the project. There were nine different ‘stations’ laid out around the museum’s massive central hall for people to visit. Each one was set up to introduce different skills, like sound editing and oral history interviews, and to give information about useful resources like historic maps, old photographs of the area, and material relating to Chaplin’s life in South London. I was chatting to people about archives and online resources for finding out about London’s cinema history. There was also another UCL researcher there (Dr Linda Thomson) looking into the benefits of heritage projects for people’s wellbeing.

The day was a great way to learn more about the area and to hear stories about growing up and going to the pictures in Lambeth. There are plans afoot for more ‘Picture Palaces’ events soon, including field trips to some of the area’s old cinema and music hall venues.”

It’s a great project and we are really happy to be supporting it.

chris orourke 2




Participants mapping old cinemas at the ‘Picture Palaces’ study day








Next week: Dig Where We Stand go back to school…