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Oral Histories of Institutions and Communities

12 September 2024

UCL Research Institute for Collections in collaboration with the project ‘Generation UCL: 200 Years of Student Life in London’ invite you join us to discuss the ways in which researchers, archivists, students and communities can collaborate on oral history within higher education, and beyond.

Free and open to all, but please register here: Oral Histories of Institutions and Communities Tickets, Thu, Sep 12, 2024 at 12:00 PM | Eventbrite

Venue: Object Based Learning Lab, Wilkins Building, UCL, Gower Street

Programme

13.00 Optional extra: Curatorial tours of ‘Generation UCL: 200 Years of Student Life in London’ Meet at Octagon Gallery

13.45 Registration for main event Meet at doors to Object Based Learning Lab. (Please note no food or drink other than bottled water is allowed in the OBL)

14.00 Panel one: Institutions and communities

Chair: Professor Georgina Brewis

· Emily Hewitt (Swansea University): ‘Process and Access: Oral history in higher education archives’

· Dr Sam Blaxland (UCL): ‘Generation UCL: Creating oral histories of student life in London’

· Emma Pizarro (LSE): ‘Remembering the pandemic: Oral histories of the LSE community’

15.30 Break: Enjoy tea, coffee and cake served in North Cloisters

See the Memory Bike: A mobile recording and listening station designed by UCL students and researchers from The Bartlett, UCL’s Faculty of the Built Environment and The School for the Creative and Cultural Industries supported by UCL Special Collections. This digital acoustic archive documents local voices and everyday soundscapes.

16:00 Panel two: Communities and institutions

Chair: Professor Haidy Geismar

· Jo Baines (UCL): ‘Mobilising UCL East’s Memory Workshop’

· Anna Fineman (UCL): ‘Documenting new communities: Oral histories of UCL East’

With an additional talk by a team that has used the Memory Bike.

17.30 Close

About the organisers

The UCL Research Institute for Collections is a virtual centre for scholarship, pedagogy and impact based around UCL’s exceptional range of collections. The RIC Special Collections Visiting Fellowship offers opportunities to conduct research on a topic centred on the UCL holdings of archives, rare books, and records . The Liberating the Collections Fellowship focuses on unearthing underrepresented voices in the UCL collections of museum objects, artworks, archives, rare books and manuscripts, finding new ways of engaging with collection stories and presenting them to wider society.

In the countdown to UCL’s bicenntennial in 2026, Generation UCL is a research and engagement project that puts students and alumni at the heart of the history of UCL. Generation UCL is establishing the first major collection of oral history interviews with UCL alumni. Our Octagon exhibition runs until 8 December 2024.

 

Generation UCL Exhibition, open until 8 December 2024

Generation UCL exhibition advertisement

‘There is no university without its students.’

This is the concept at the heart of a new exhibition, ‘Generation UCL: 200 Years of Student Life in London’which opens in UCL’s Octagon Gallery this week. The exhibition portrays students as foundational to the story of UCL, exploring their experiences over time and reassessing students’ impact on UCL’s almost 200-year history.

The exhibition also explores the formation of Students’ Union UCL, now one of the largest student-led organisations in the world. UCL students played important roles in building a wider student movement in Britain, helping found organisations including the National Union of Students, the West African Students’ Union and the Central Union of Chinese Students.

UCL’s President and Provost Dr Michael Spence said: “This important exhibition marks the start of UCL’s countdown to our 200th birthday in 2026. It offers new insights into our diverse and lively community of students over time, exploring how they have made a home with us over 200 years. Opening just as UCL is named The Times and Sunday Times ‘University of the Year’ and as we launch a new campus on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London, the exhibition offers inspiration from our extraordinary past to help shape our future.”

Curated by Professor Georgina Brewis and Dr Sam Blaxland (both IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society) alongside Leah Johnston and Colin Penman (UCL Special Collections), the exhibition includes many items from UCL collections and alumni loans or donations that have never been displayed before. The exhibition forms part of a wider research and engagement project, Generation UCL, that looks to turn institutional history upside down and present the first students as the real ‘founders’ of UCL.

Professor Georgina Brewis, Director of the Generation UCL project and lead curator of the exhibition, said: “As London’s first university, students at UCL invented what it was like to be a student in the capital and we’ve worked hard to represent the diversity of student life over two centuries. The exhibition showcases UCL’s rich collections of archive material and objects covering student life, including new acquisitions of clothing, memorabilia and scrapbooks loaned or donated by alumni. This allows us to spotlight individual stories whilst also exploring the collective activities of students over time.”

The exhibition also features recorded accounts from alumni reflecting on key moments during their time at UCL, including the separate spaces for men and women on campus in the 1880s, the experience of studying at UCL after the Second World War, and the founding of the UK’s first GaySoc in 1972. Visitors are invited to contribute to this growing oral history archive by sharing their memories of their time at UCL and life after graduation.

The exhibition encourages visitors to think critically about UCL’s history in the run-up to its bicentenary in 2026 and the key role played by students in that remarkable story.

‘Generation UCL: 200 Years of Student Life in London’ is now open in the UCL Octagon Gallery and will run until 18 August 2024.

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