Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research

Sussex Life History Alumni: What are they up to now?

If you have completed a life history course at Sussex and would like to add details of what you're doing now to this web page, please email a paragraph to Gerry Holloway (G.Holloway@sussex.ac.uk).

Jenna Bailey

Jenna completed her MA in Life History Research in 2003 and was a Visiting Research Fellow for the Centre for Life History Research from March 2004 to March 2006. Her first book, "Can Any Mother Help Me?" was published in 2007 by Faber and Faber and is based on the writing from the Cooperative Correspondence Club (CCC), a Mass-Observation related collection. The CCC was a private correspondence magazine produced by a group of women from 1936-1990. Jenna is now a freelance writer and is currently working on a book about Ivy Benson and Her All Girls Band. "Can Any Mother Help Me" by Jenna Bailey is available in book stores now, published by Faber and Faber.

W www.jenna-bailey.com

Tim Bateman

After graduating (from the MA in Life History Research) I became involved in a Heritage Lottery project to create an oral history on video of people's memories of life in Radstock, Somerset prior to the coal mines and railway junction closing here in the early 1970s. Working with some 70 volunteers, we created an archive of 40 recordings on video which is stored in an interactive format on DVD. At the end of the project we received additional funding from the Somerset District Miners' Welfare Trust to produce a documentary film of the history of the area using the new video archive and the museum's existing photo archive as a resource. I have also been giving lectures on the process of developing the archive to local history groups. Last year I was employed by the John Moore Liverpool University as a technical consultant helping them to develop their project of creating a video archive of people involved with the development of the Everyman Theatre. I am currently working with the Trowbridge Textile museum producing four short video productions for use on their website (currently under construction) and in the museum's main exhibit area. I have also been digitatizing their Oral History archive of some 50 recordings as well as training their volunteer group on oral histroy recording methods. Along with two others we have recently formed a not for profit company - VideoPortraits Ltd. - with the objective of helping museums and others in producing historical documentary films and other related activies.

E member@eventscurrent.freeserve.co.uk

Verusca Calabria

I volunteered for the Kings Cross Voices Oral History project in 2005, recording the histories of Italians who have lived in and around this area. I then went on to manage a cross generational oral history project for the Bengali community in East London. I then became the oral history coordinator for an Italian oral history project based in the heart of the Italian community of Clerkenwell, London. I have collected 100 hours of life histories and around 500 personal photographs from two distinct Italian communities that came to England in the 1950s to work in the food industry. I created a touring photographic exhibition that documents their lives which has been a success. The recordings have been deposited in public archives (www.enaip.org.uk/oralhistory.php). I am going on to work as an Oral History support worker for a 2 year oral history project (2007/2008) about the Moroccan community in Great Britain (a website will be created in the near future, for details see www.mrcf.org.uk/

E info@veruscacalabria.co.uk
W www.veruscacalabria.co.uk

Joanne Callus

In 1996 I completed the Life History Certificate course at the University of Sussex, having been working as a volunteer for Queenspark Books, the life history and local history publishers. The course gave me the confidence to undertake my own life history project ‘Daughters of  Dispersal’. This is a  collection of Armenian women’s experiences, life histories, recipes, poetry and diary extracts from the diaspora, which highlighted some unexpected themes, primarily the lack of closure for survivors and their offspring of the Armenian genocide of 1915. The project was well received by the Centre for Armenian Information and Advice in London, where I gave several lectures. I also organised exhibitions and gave talks in Sussex. The published project is available to download as an e-book (ISBN 978-0-9538300-0-8). I am currently working on a life history/memoir of Notting Hill Gate in the 1960s.

E joannecallus@googlemail.com

Charmian Cannon

Since doing the Life History Certificate in 1996 I have published a book called 'Our Grandmothers, Our Mothers, Ourselves: A Century of Women's Lives' (edited Charmian Cannon, 1st. edition 2000, Ogomos. 2nd edition, 2001, Third Age Press). This was a project started during the course, which was the result of a group of members of the University of the Third Age studying women's history by speaking and writing about their memories. Since then I have been working on my grandmother's letters from 1900 to 1943, and accompanying photographs, to reconstruct her life and that of her (and my) family. An article based on this work appeared in the Women's History Magazine March 2003 entitled "Ladies of Leisure? The Everyday Life of an Edwardian Mother and her Daughters."In the summer of 2011 I graduated with an MA in Women's History by Research at London Metropolitan University;my dissertation was on Continuity and Discontinuity and the Experience of War: a Story told in Letters, and is about the family in the 1914-18 war. I am hoping to continue working with these letters.

E charmian@whealfreedom.fsnet.co.uk

Sam Carroll

Sam Carroll completed her DPhil  in Life History at the University of Sussex, graduating in June 2011. Her research focused on the life stories of members of the Committee of 100, an anti-hierarchical group that campaigned for British unilateral nuclear disarmament from 1961 to 1968 and spearheaded the post war use of non-violent direct action in the UK. Sam works in the Centre for Community Engagement as an Associate Tutor with a specialism in life history, oral history and mass observation studies. She recently managed the 'Our Hospital Our History' project which collected 52 oral history interviews from across BSUH Trust. She also organises international academic conferences for both the Universities of Sussex and Brighton. Sam co-ordinates the CLHLWR seminar series and other events for the centre.

E S.J.Carroll@sussex.ac.uk

Pat Cattley

Pat completed a Postgraduate Diploma -and then MA - in Adult Learning and Life Histories in 1997. Since leaving the Sussex course I have continued to work in the field of mid and later life planning, in particular pre-retirement, both for myself and Life-Academy, an associated institution of the University of Surrey . I have used, and continue to use, Life Histories to inform this area of work, developing methods which use individual's life histories to provide a basis for future life planning. I also, when asked, provide Life Histories for individuals who want to tell their life story. This is usually requested by their children. I am now back at the University of Sussex working on a PhD, applying Life Histories and Life Course methodology to Mass Observation Archive data. My focus is on the relationships, roles, influences etc individuals have/had with Aunts, either being an Aunt, or experiences of Aunts. Has this role changed since the Second World War? What about 'Maiden Aunts' then, and career women now? Watch this space...

E patriciacattley@hotmail.com

Roger Cooley

I am still employed as a part-time research fellow in computer science at Kent, and spend my time working on computing research in renal medicine. I have also started a part-time taught MA in historical research at Birkbeck College. I had in fact signed up for this last year when it looked like it I might not have applied early enough to Sussex to get on to the LHR MA. I am currently weighing history against biography, and the scales are tilting towards biography despite the weight of institutional support for the former. I have currently taken advantage of an essay title set for a course on Historiography to look at the way in which historians use biography.

E rogere.cooley@googlemail.com

Lindsey Dodd

After completing my MA, I worked at the V&A on a reminiscence project, then took an EFL course and taught abroad in Poland and Belgium for two years. On my return I worked at the Institute of Historical Research in the Publications department. In October 2007 I began a PhD at the University of Reading looking at the allied bombing of France, 1940-45. Using archival and biographical sources I will be examining experiences of and responses to bombardment by ally rather than enemy. The research forms part of the AHRC-funded project 'Bombing, states and peoples in Western Europe, 1939-45'. For further details, contact: 

E l.a.dodd@reading.ac.uk

Esther Gill

After completing the MA in 2007, I worked part-time for English Heritage as an Outreach Manager in the South East Region, setting up and supporting community-based heritage projects. Alongside this, I have built up my freelance work, delivering oral history training for projects across Sussex. Clients have included the WRVS Heritage Plus Project, West Sussex County Council, the BME history project, Coming to Worthing, and the Tarner Stories project in Brighton.

Following redundancy from English Heritage in March 2011, I am now managing two projects: Speaking Up for Disability, an oral history project based in Worthing (www.speakingupfordisability.org.uk), and Creative Landscapes (www.accentuate-se.org/creativelandscapes), working with disabled people to explore low-cost, creative approaches to making heritage more accessible.

E esther@ourhistories.co.uk

Linda Grace

Since completing the MA in Life History Research, Linda Grace has been involved with the Lindfield History Research Project: We are a thriving local community history group, which aims to undertake social history projects for the Parish of Lindfield in Sussex and to make the findings publicly available for the benefit of the community and others with an interest in the Parish. Our first project focused on stories about the village and its residents during the Second World War, and culminated in an exhibition in the village in 2004. Research for the project discovered a previously unknown war diary kept by a well-known resident of the village, and we are currently preparing extracts of the diary for publication. For our current project, we are researching the history of the development of roads, buildings, and businesses in the village, using a variety of sources. We are working towards an exhibition in the village in the autumn of 2007. Please contact me if you would like to know more about our group or our projects.

E lagrace15@hotmail.com
W www.lindfieldhistory.org.uk

Chris Hare

MA student, 1999 - 2001. In 1999 I wrote Washington - forgotten history, and in 2001, The Good Old, Bad Old Days, the Sussex of Laurence Graburn, both of which drew heavily on oral history interviews. From 2002 - 2004 I was an adult education manager in Newton Abbot, and from 2002 - 2004 I fulfilled a similar role at Midhurst. After a brief stint as a climate change officer, I returned to being self-employed, including part-time teaching and freelance journalism. In March 2008 I was appointed to manage the Time for History project in Worthing. This project, funded by the National Heritage Lottery seeks to examine the social history of Worthing using the social care activities of Guild Care, a local charity (which is currently celebrating its 75th anniversary) as its focus. A team of volunteers are engaged in undertaking oral history interviews and archival research. So far 20 people have been interviewed, with another 50 identified for interview before the end of October. The outcomes of the project will include a book, a DVD and an exhibition. The project is due to end on the 31st March 2009 but may be extended. For more information about my work, including how to book for walks or courses, see Chris' website or contact him on 

E chris@sussexwalksandtalks.co.uk
W www.sussexwalksandtalks.co.uk

Sally Hemmings

Sally did the Certificate in Life History Work, She is now active with Bexhill Voices Group: We are an oral history group based at Bexhill Museum . This group, started in 2000, has been interviewing residents of Bexhill on their memories of growing up, living and working in Bexhill. A previous group interviewed people about early 20th century memories, and produced two books...Bexhill Voices I and II. Our original idea was to carry on from this period, with a view to producing Bexhill Voices III. We have carried out about 45 interviews, and have several pieces of recordings on our listening post in the access centre in the museum. Interest in producing another book has waned - our goal is to have the recordings available through the access centre in the museum. Bexhill Museum itself has recently joined with the Bexhill Costume museum, and a newly refurbished, expanded site is being planned for both museums. Hopefully oral history can play a greater part in the new museum. In the meantime our group meets about once every 6 weeks.! Anyone who may be interested in joining us would be very welcome. Any questions, do email the museum: info@bexhillmuseum.co.uk.

E hemmingsuk@yahoo.com

Marion Houldsworth

Marion was one of the first students on the Certificate in Life History Work in the early 1990s. Since then she has researched and written a series of life history books about living in north Queensland . The Morning Side of the Hill is about an orphaned immigrant boy and was published by James Cook University as part of the Commemoration of the Victory in the Pacific Celebrations of 1995. Barefoot through the Bindies and From the Gulf to God Knows Where were published by Central Queensland University Press and explore the outback history of twentieth century northern Australia through oral history. When she's not in Haywards Heath, Marion travels around outback areas of Australia collecting the life-stories of the men and women who have been involved in the development of the north, especially in the cattle and sheep industries.

E mhouldsworth@freenet.co.uk

Sandra Koa Wing

We are very sorry to report that Sandra died in 2007. We will miss her energy, humour and tremendous contributions to life history at Sussex. Until 2007 Sandra was the Mass Observation Archive Officer and was responsible for developing, communicating and promoting the Mass Observation Archive's activities: supporting research and learning, establishing partnership projects, organising events and developing fundraising strategies (www.massobs.org.uk/index.htm). Since graduating from the MA in Life History Research she volunteered for local oral history website, My Brighton and Hove (www.mybrightonandhove.org.uk) and also worked as a research consultant and assisted on various projects for the Open University, Liverpool John Moores University and the University of Cambridge . She was also involved in creating a digital resources pack for teaching and learning in life history research. Her first book, Mass Observation: Britain in the Second World War was posthumously published by the Folio Society in 2007 (www.foliosoc.co.uk) and her second, Our Longest Days: A People's History of the Second World War, by the writers of Mass Observation was published by Profile in 2008.

Noelle McCormack

Noelle completed the MA in Life History Research at Sussex in 2007. She used her dissertation to develop 'Nothing About Me Without Me', an ethical and practical guide for doing life story projects with vulnerable adults. She was invited to work as Life Story Consultant with Frameworks 4 Change (www.frameworks4change.co.uk) in October 2007 and has worked with different organizations to support and encourage engagement with life story work. In September 2008 Noelle was funded by Living Imprint, (www.livingimprint.org), to use oral history research to record the story of Angela Lane; dancer, choreographer and mother of three. 'Inside My Dance', (www.livingimprint.org/insidemydance/index.html) explores the impact that Angela's middle child, who is profoundly disabled, has had on her life. Inside My Dance will be launched in Brighton as a multimedia exhibition in March 2010. Noelle has recently been instrumental in setting up a new day service in Brighton catering for older people with Learning Disability and Dementia. She runs sessions on life story projects, reminiscence and creating memory boxes.

E sweet.thames@googlemail.com

Catherine Page

Since graduating with an MA in Life History Research in 2010, I have become involved in writing street histories, which include social profiling, of the North Laine area of Brighton for MyHouseMyStreet. My first paper will shortly be on the MHMS website and I plan to do more under the same banner. Pursuing another interest, I have begun to interview people for ‘Speaking Up for Disability’, a project, which with the aid of the Heritage Lottery Fund aims to track the changes in the social treatment of the disabled during the 20th century, by highlighting not only firsthand experience and that of carers but also of people who have become disabled in later life. I have also become part of the Management Committee of QueenSpark Books, which, with the launch of ‘Alt-Brighton’, will continue to draw the community of Brighton together.

E catherinepage@hove.com

Vijay Reddy

Vijay completed a DPhil on the life stories of black South African scientists who achieved PhDs under apartheid: About 4 years ago I joined the (South African) Human Sciences Research Council. I work in a research programme called Education, Science and Skills Development and at the moment am Executive Director of the programme (with 32 staff and a budget of R30mil). I prefer doing the research aspects. I have been involved in various research projects after the PhD that used Life History research:

  1. A Study for the National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) on the Mobility of Research and Development Workers. It led to a publication Flight of the Flamingoes (multiple authors), but in this I contributed to the Life Histories of R&D workers.
  2. An impact evaluation of the Educational Opportunities Council.
  3. I am presently conducting a study as part of a suite of programmes. Cabinet has requested a study (co-ordinated by the National Advisory Council on Innovation) which is about Tracking Public R&D expenditure. One of the projects within that is a study called Class of 94 and 99 and NACI wanted the use of personal biographies and asked that I do the study. I have interviewed about 20 doctoral graduates from the classes of 94 and 99 and am busy writing up at the moment. The study will reflect on how career trajectories unfolded after the doctorate and (as economists would say) what has been the return on the state investments in doctoral training.

E vreddy@hsrc.ac.za

Philip Seaton

Philip completed in 2004 a Sussex PhD about Japanese memories of the Asia Pacific War. He is now an associate professor in the Research Faculty of Media and Communication, Hokkaido University, Japan. He specializes in Japanese memories of World War II and has published on how relatives' war experiences are narrated and interpreted within Japanese families (Oral History 34.1 and Japan's Contested War Memories, Routledge 2007). He is currently undertaking a local history project titled "War and Memory in Hokkaido" with a heavy focus on family and community history, (see www.japanfocus.org/products/details/2469) and will be presenting at the International Oral History Conference 2008.

E seaton@imc.hokudai.ac.jp
W www.philipseaton.net

John Street

Having completed my MA in September 2008, I became involved in doing voluntary research work for the Victoria County History in Essex. They have done a good deal of work on the east coast of Essex, but none here where the Thames meets the sea at Southend. So a long-term, funded project is just getting under way, under the direction of Dr. Chris Thornton, the VCH County Organiser, to look at all the component aspects of the town from its early days until the end of the 20th century. There are 5 of us at present and we are starting with the period 1930 to 1960, simply because I wanted to introduce an Oral History dimension to the work and it was important to identify and locate interesting people to interview, before Anno Domini takes them away. Each of us has been allocated particular areas of research - mine being the Oral History side and the Changing Face of Southend Commerce & Industry, which basically means how the holiday industry has changed during the period. In the fullness of time, it is intended that the combined results of our work will be published in the VCH Red Books, although hopefully we may be able to publish some booklets as we go along.

E johnstreet@keme.co.uk.

Juliana Vandergrift

Since finishing my MA in Life History Research at Sussex in 2008 I’ve worked on a wide variety of oral history and community projects. The subject matter has ranged from coastal communities in East Anglia and Belgium to the academic publishing world of Cambridge University Press and now, most recently, a history of British toy design commissioned by the Museum of Childhood in London. Not only has the subject matter varied with these projects but my roles have been flexible enough for me to enjoy producing short films with young teenagers, putting together touring exhibitions or just simply interviewing the entire spectrum of society that I never ever dreamed of when I started out doing the MA. or the centre. 

E juliana.vandegrift@btinternet.com.

Christopher Webb

After completing the M.A.in 2007, I pursued a number of freelance projects which allowed me to combine my interest in migration stories with my background in community education. Through connections built from my Public History Placement on the course I was able to secure work on a number of projects with Imperial War Museum London including working with local supplementary schools and elders groups. I also coordinated community development and recorded the interviews featured in the 'Frames of Mind, Creativity in Mental Healthcare' exhibition at the Museum of Croydon (open Oct 2008 - Jan 2009). I am currently pursuing my PhD in conjunction with the Centre of Oral History Research (www.hud.ac.uk/mh/oral-history) at Huddersfield University. My research focuses on exploring the ways in which narratives of migratory and transnational experience have informed the making of local identities in multicultural communities in the Kirklees region.

E chrisj.webb@gmail.com

Krista Woodley

While studying on the MA, Krista Woodley worked on the haemophilia and HIV life history project at the University of Brighton, which produced www.livingstories.org.uk. Then after the MA, I went to work for the Southampton Oral History Unit doing an oral history project of a local shipyard. We created an exhibition and a book, Thorny's: an oral history of Vosper Thornycroft shipyard, Southampton. Since then I've returned to Brighton to work on another haemophilia and HIV project, the HIV in the Family project.

E kristawoodley@yahoo.co.uk

Shivaun Woolfson

Since completing the MA in Life History research at Sussex in 2006, Shivaun Woolfson has gone on to found, Living Imprint (www.livingimprint.org/), a small organization dedicated to harnessing the transformational power of life stories to educate and enlighten. She is currently a Dphil student in the Department of History at University of Sussex. Her research seeks to trace the imprints left in modern day Lithuania by its once thriving Jewish community. Drawing on the Hasidic principle that everything - people, places and things - speaks, she has recently spent several months in Vilnius conducting life history interviews, visiting places of Jewish significance and collecting biographical objects from her narrators. Her work is strongly influenced by the Hasidic teaching of Rabbi Nachum of Bratslav, who believed that when one speaks to one's fellow, there is a 'simple light and a returning light'. Shivaun has just completed production on a short documentary based on her research journey, and is in the process of putting together an interactive exhibition, entitled Surviving History; Portraits of a Fading People, based on her findings.

E ShivaunWoolfson@aol.com

Isabelle Amazon-Brown

Isabelle is working for a digital media company based in Lewes and Cape Town which runs mobile internet communities to facilitate resilience and self-empowerment for African youth. Her role is as an online community manager, and the MA in Life History research has meant that she can position herself as the mouthpiece for the young people her company works for. 

E isabelle@every1mobile.net