This Oral History Resources page offers a selected list of oral histories that relate to Black British Caribbean communities (including the Windrush Generation and post-Windrush Caribbean-descended communities). Please click on an icon below to learn more about each resource.
You can also visit our Oral History Projects page that highlights films that have been produced on the Windrush Scandal and/or about the Windrush Generation. The final section points to the existence of personal archives.
A selection of educational shorts, documentaries and films can be found here.
Some oral archives house recordings of events, meetings and happenings that would fall more comfortably under the category of ‘orality’ – e.g., the community meetings that were recorded by John La Rose and held at the George Padmore Institute. They are nevertheless included as it is clear that those recordings were made consciously, with the intention they would be used at a future point, as historical material.
If you are aware of any private oral history collections or public oral history resources that are not listed below, please email us: email@example.com This page will be updated until end July 2024. Any information you provide will help to build a better understanding of the disparate archives that exist across the UK.
Oral History Resources
Ahmed Iqbal Ullah RACE (Race Archives and Community Engagement) Centre
This specialist open-access library contains extensive oral history collections which focus on issues of ‘race, migration and thinking about race, anti-race activism and the fight for social justice’. The interviewees are drawn from a broad range of Global Majority communities including those with Caribbean, African and Asian heritage. Online sound recordings can be listened to here.
Black Cultural Archives
The Black Cultural Archives hold a significant collection of oral history recordings that can be listened to on site. The scope and contents of that collection can be searched for here. Their archives are of particular importance to anyone conducting research on the response of Black communities to immigration changes and Britain’s hostile environment.
Birmingham City Council
An oral history project – Memories from the Islands – forms part the Birmingham City Council’s oral history collection. Eleven people of African Caribbean heritage were interviewed: Richard Gallon, Adrian Brown, Jonathan Parkes, Joslyn Clarke, Beryl Martin, Ethline Worms, Eugena Williams, Ida Salmon, Rosalind Edwards, Ruth Vassal, and Rev Roy Clarke. Researchers can access transcripts of the interviews here.
The British Library archives an extensive collection of oral history interviews, including those that relate to Caribbean, African and Asia heritage communities. Unfortunately as a result of a cyber-attack their website and online catalogue are no longer accessible. See here for a longlist of recordings that were based on a search in June 2018 for the terms ‘Jamaica’ and ‘Caribbean’.
Essex Record Office
The Essex Record Office has received, catalogued and published the interviews created by the Evewright Arts Foundation for their Caribbean Takeaway Takeover Exhibitions. From 2017 to 2018, Eve Wright, and the staff and volunteers of his art foundation recorded oral histories with 10 Elders who moved to the UK from the Caribbean in the 1940s to the 1960s. The recordings were conducted with the following elders: Alford Gardner, Nell Green, Carlton Darrell, Carol Sydney, Don Sydney, Alton Watkins and others. To read more about their Caribbean Takeaway Takeover project click here (blog posted 27 October 2018). To access all the recordings go to their Sound Cloud channel or to the catalogue on Essex Archives Online. Thanks goes to Stephen Poleon for bringing this material to our attention.
First Cut Media
First Cut Media (in co-operation with the Windrush Crusade Initiative, the African Caribbean Heritage Digital Archive Project) has conducted ‘oral history interviews of people affected by the Windrush Scandal’ and which include the following topics: community, education, employment, housing, crime and policing, criminal justice system and health.
The testimonies, available online, come from Black British citizens with Caribbean heritage from a range of islands: Winston Carrington (Barbados), Faye Bruce (Jamaica), Cllr Whit Stennett (Jamaica), Roshel Waite (Jamaica), Anthony Brown (Jamaica), Mike Shaft (Grenada), Martin Forde QC (St Lucia/Barbados), Tom Nelson (Jamaica), Dr Lance Lewis (Jamaica), Hyacinth Naylor (Jamaica) and Rose Henry (Jamaica).
George Padmore Institute
The sound archives at the GPI include material on: Caribbean Artists Movement (1966-1972) [1965-1995], Personal Archives of John La Rose (1940s-2000s), International Books Fairs of Radical, Black and Third World Books (1982-1995) and Joan Goody Archives (1934-2017). The available oral histories were mostly conducted by Anne Walmsley. Sadly, much of the material does not have supporting data protection documentation and so is not readily accessible to the public. ‘Life Experience with Britain’ a project that involved audio talks, conversations and oral history interviews were turned into books that were published in 1997 and 1999. For information on what can be accessed please email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the George Padmore Institute (GPI).
Hackney Museum has a collection of oral histories from local residents of Caribbean heritage. The interviews were carried out c.1998 and supported the creation of a temporary exhibition at the time called Windrush and Beyond. Most of these transcripts can be accessed via the Caribbean Hackney gallery.
Another collection which features oral histories with local residents of the Windrush Generation and their descendants is Mapping the Change, linked to changes caused by the 2012 London Olympic Game, found here.
The Museum also have a series of oral histories collected in 2018 for their temporary exhibition, Roots, Rhythms & Records: The Sounds and Stories of African and Caribbean Music in Hackney, which also includes those of the Windrush Generation and their descendants. At the time of contact, the Museum were in the process of making these available.
The Museum also holds a few independent recordings from different projects too, some available online and others not yet. The publicly available elements of their oral history collecting can be accessed here.
Thanks goes to Niti Acharya, Hackney Museum Manager, for providing this information.
Kirklees Television have been recording, documenting, informing and sharing stories of the Windrush Generation for eleven years. Windrush: The Years After – Untold Stories provides captures the voices of people with African-Caribbean heritage who have been living in West Yorkshire for the last 72 years. It includes stories from those who have been impacted by the British State’s hostile environment policies.
They also discuss identity. Caribbean Through the Lens – Huddersfield/Kirklees they discuss identity, reflect on their Caribbean heritage and share memories of arriving in Britain, while looking at photographs.
For more information contact: email@example.com
Many thanks to Milton Brown, CEO of Kirklees Local TV in Huddersfield for writing to us with this information on 29th July 2022.
These archives house a special collection of personal documents, photographs and oral history testimonies that were created by the ‘Remembering Olive Morris Collective (ROC). Olive Morris (1952-1979) was a Black British community leader and activist in the feminist, black nationalist, and squatters’ rights campaigns of the 1970s. A hard copy of the catalogue is available at Lambeth Archives. Information about the archive is provided on behalf of Lambeth by National Archives here and on p27 of Lambeth Archive’s Guide to Collections.
Museumand: The National Caribbean Heritage Museum
The Museumand, which describes itself as a ‘museum without walls’ focuses much of its work around the area of Nottingham but also reaches nationally. The creative team have been involved in a number of projects which use aspects of reflective memory as part of their interview process. This includes the podcast series Objeks & Tings about the objects Caribbean-heritage interviewees cherish the most. The interviewers (Catherine Ross and Lynda Burrell) and guests explore the role the object played in their British upbringing.
Nottingham Black Archive:
The Nottingham Black Archive, run by Panya Banjoko, has undertaken a range of projects mainly focused on the post-1939 period. These include projects on Black Servicemen and their families in WWII and 1950s (Community capsule), Common Land (oral histories of St Ann’s), an Intergenerational Project, Journeys to Nottingham (videos), and the Pathways Mural project.
Primary is an artist-led contemporary visual arts organisation that started working with the Nottingham Black Archive on ‘When We Worked at Raleigh’ in May 2019. The project documents the experiences of members of the Windrush generation and their descendants who worked for Raleigh Industries in Nottingham from the 1950s to the 1980s. Themes include their arrival, day-to-day experiences, challenging racism and increasing workplace equality.
Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre
Redbridge Museum made a film ‘Memories of Windrush’ in 2021 based on the museum’s oral history recordings of Caribbean elders who are or have been resident in the London Borough of Redbridge. The original recordings are part of Redbridge Museum’s collection and can be accessed by contacting them via firstname.lastname@example.org or www.visionrcl.org.uk/museum. A request to listen to their complete collection can alternatively be made through Redbridge Central Library, Clements Road, Ilford, Essex IG1 1EA. Many thanks to Redbridge Museum & Heritage Centre Manager, Gerard Greene, for providing this information on 20th July 2022. (Gerard.email@example.com)
V & A East
The V&A commissioned a new oral history project on the identity and belonging of first and second generation people of Caribbean heritage resident in East London. Recording Oral History for the V&A Museum – Wendy Shearer. The oral histories will be available in a public exhibition that will co-inside with the opening of their new museum, the V&A East, in Stratford in 2024.
The Windrush Foundation is a London-based registered charity that was co-founded by the late Sam B King MBE and Arthur Torrington CBE. Established in 1996, the charity designs and delivers heritage projects, programmes and initiatives which highlight the contributions of African and Caribbean peoples to UK public services, the Arts, commerce and other areas of socio-economic and cultural life in Britain and the Commonwealth. The foundation produces teaching material on the Windrush for schools and has also been recording oral histories with members of the Black British Caribbean communities over a number of decades. For more on this contact Arthur Torrington.
Young Historians Project (YHP)
YHP is a non-profit organisation made up of a team of young people aged 16-25 who have been working on dynamic projects, which document pivotal and often overlooked historical moments. They use oral history methods as a way of producing material for podcasts and blogs. Contact them directly for information on oral history recordings that have been conducted on the Caribbean/African heritage communities. Some of their recordings are also available to listen to online.