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The Elsie Black Oral History Project

Clúid Housing are delighted to announce the launch of The Elsie Black Oral History Project, a three-phased resident led project founded in oral history interviewing. Oral history is the gathering and recording of people’s memories and opinions enabling us to see the human side of historical events, rather than relying solely on books and records. It also allows us to contest assumptions about our recent past by asking direct questions to people who lived through those times. Oral history is particularly valuable because we can seek out the views of all elements of society, including people who are frequently omitted from general history books.

In 2022, Clúid Housing lost a colleague and friend. Elsie Black, she was at the heart of Killarney Court as an initiative-taking and caring neighbour and later as a valued colleague. With Elsie’s passing, we received comments about how much local knowledge will be absent with her passing. This project – in Elsie’s name – seeks to preserve that rich tapestry of local storytelling for prosperity. (See photo)

The purpose of the Elsie Black Oral History Project is primarily to:

  • Preserve for future generations the lived experience of Clúid residents. The project offers participants the opportunity to tell their own story, in their own words. The project will weave a rich cultural tapestry truly representative of our residents while maintaining the oral testimony of those who have gone before us for future generations.

The Elsie Black Oral History Project is also tasked with challenge perceptions principally to reduce stigmatisation of people living in social housing and the lives they lead through the humanising act of storytelling. Furthermore, to challenge perceptions around academia and pathways to educational attainment, by participating in this project, residents will develop not only the skills to become oral historians, but the self-confidence to pursue further educational and career opportunities.

  • There are several more aims and objectives to the project as outlined below:
  • Provision of texture to history, replacing ‘what happened?’ with ‘how did that feel?’
  • Capturing subjectivity missing from many historical perspectives
  • Facilitating ‘history from below’
  • Valuing often under-valued experiences
  • Accessing those who otherwise would not have their experience told.
  • Directly engagement with communities
  • Providing people the opportunity not just to engage with history, but to create it.
  • May help to address stigma for those living in social housing.

There will be no direct benefits to participants, however we hope the results of the study will help us to understand social housing and those who live in Clúid schemes. It is envisaged however that through the training provided to those who agree to participate as interviewers, secondary benefits will emerge. Interviewers will gain a profound understanding of Oral History Research while gaining valuable training in people skills, communication, and practical equipment usage. For those who agree to participate as interviewees we imagine that the primary benefit will be the opportunity to not only tell their story but to have that story preserved for posterity. These stories will become valuable treasures for subsequent generations and may provide new opportunities for connection with family history.

Phase 1 commenced with training in oral history interviewing with the OHNI (see logo) and a practical masterclass in using the interviewing equipment with a professional sound engineer took place on the 20th of March 2024. All trainees received a complete oral history interviewing equipment toolbox on completion of the training. (See photo)

An Interviewer Pack outlining roles and responsibilities before and after the interview and providing invaluable guides and resources has been finalized by the lead resident researcher and interviews will commence in May 2024.

We have also established a community of practitioners’ forum to offer ongoing support to all trained interviewers. It is envisaged this forum will be held once a month to measure progress, identify difficulties and resolve same. The interviewers will also be consulted in terms of Phase 2 and 3 alongside the residents who are participating in the project to ensure their voice is represented throughout the process.

Get Involved?
We would be incredibly grateful if you could consider joining our project as interviewees, If you would like to be interviewed, please contact myvoice@cluid.ie to express your interest and access the interviewee profile form for completion. It is envisaged that interviews would take about two hours and would be conducted in the resident’s own home or at some other location of their choice.

We are hoping to run the training event again for residents who would like to complete training in oral history interviewing and the use of interviewing equipment. If you would like to take part in this training, please contact myvoice@cluid.ie to express your interest.

If you would like any additional information on this project, please do not hesitate to contact the Clúid Housing Resident Engagement Team at myvoice@cluid.ie

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