UEA Oral Histories (1963-1973) is a project devised and produced by UEA students. In the winter of 2011, Dr Camilla Schofield asked students in her history module to work together on an oral history project. In the context of imminent increases in university tuition fees, these students agreed to pursue research into the first ten years of UEA. They were interested in what life was like at UEA in the 1960s, the social impact of UEA on the local community and the extent to which increases in university grants in 1963 truly democratized university access.
Each student was then given training in interviewing techniques. They were taught about how historians have variously used individual memories as a resource within historical research. And they were introduced to the wider culture of the period.
As the project went under way, the group realized that the coming 50th anniversary of UEA was an excellent opportunity for self-reflection within the university. Students Charlotte Hennings (History 2012) and Dolly Smith (History and English 2012) got on local radio to publicize the project. The Annual Fund provided much needed funding for equipment. By the spring of 2012, over one hundred individuals had volunteered to be interviewed about their memories of the early years of UEA. Students, construction workers, architects, gardeners, administrators, academics and secretaries all had their stories to tell. Unfortunately, we have not been able to interview them all. In the 2012/13 academic year, Schofield's new students continued the project. As a Springboard intern, James Robinson (International Relations and Modern History 2013) helped organize dozens of interviews. Then, in the summer of 2013, Holly Butcher (Film and English 2013) as a graduate intern took on the role of transforming hours of sound recordings into this interactive website.
The memories of UEA that have been uncovered are often surprising and often moving. The participants interviewed are not necessarily famous. They are not necessarily the founding fathers of the university. But they are inspiring individuals, willing to come forward to share their personal stories and contribute to our understanding of UEA ‘s beginnings.
This website is dedicated to the late Michael Sanderson, author of The History of the University of East Anglia Norwich (2002), whose work on the history of UEA has proved to be an invaluable resource in the making of this project. We would also like to thank all of the interviewees, who kindly contributed their memories.
The Oral Histories project would not have been possible without the help of the following students: Jordan Bright, Jamie Clarke, Laura Coles, Siobhan Conway, Adele Ettey, Ben Hardie, Charlotte Hennings, Michael Hughes, Eileen Irvin, Michael Kyriacou, Rebecca Lancaster, Helen Lee, Kate Llewllyn, Chris Levis, Andy Peebles, Dolly Smith, Darren Southcott, Emily Ward, Emily Warner, and Nathan Willcock.
History and Politics
'I found it a great opportunity to engage fully with the history of our university and to hear the interesting stories about those early days. Being able to see how far the university has come and the ways that it has changed over the years, helped me really understand it better, as it is today.'
'The opportunity to contribute towards this oral history project was not only an interesting and exciting chance to put into practise all that we had been studying, but it was also an chance to learn more about UEA. It was interesting to observe the many similarities and differences between my experience and those of Jackie Brown, the woman I interviewed. I feel that the process has highlighted how privileged I was to study at UEA and the value of higher education. I can only hope that with the recent increase of tuition fees, that others will not be excluded from benefiting from the same opportunities which Jackie and I had.'
'The most interesting part, for me, about studying and drawing on oral history was being able to discover more about the lives and opinions of the people who would not normally be deemed as important enough to be recorded. It gives an amazing window into everyday life in the past.'
'It was an absolute pleasure to interview some of the founding members of the UEA family. I'm looking forward to being interviewed for the 100th birthday of UEA!'
History and Politics
'I really enjoyed my interview. I found it fascinating how similar some aspects of life at UEA were back then, and how one man's student experience and life can be looked upon as a microcosm of the social changes which defined his generation.'
Film and English Studies
Helping to develop the Oral Histories project has been both fascinating and educative, especially since the university was already familiar to me as a recent graduate. The most intriguing aspect has been hearing the contradictions between interviewees' memories - both big and small. It has taught me that history is not just a singular term, but instead a plural one.
International Relations and Modern History
'I really enjoyed working on the project. It was an invaluable and fascinating insight into UEA's development and student life in the 60s and 70s.'