Historic Droughts Project Breaks New Ground in Archival Work

Dr Rebecca Pearce from Exeter University, recently presented work she has been doing for the Historic Droughts project at the Oral History Society Annual Conference; . Rebecca has been searching archives for drought information using weather data to pinpoint geographical locations and date ranges as the primary search tool, and from there, recording oral histories with people who remember the drought events she has discovered. The resulting mix of audio, visual and text materials make for interesting and thought-provoking collections.

Rebecca's presentation; Using Oral testimony as a search tool in the National Drought Inventory; why text and audio are still equally important, focused on the ways in which the Drought Inventory may be searched through narratives and the importance of text (transcriptions) in making the audio searchable in the digital age.

Rebecca's work was well received by Oral Historians and it was suggested that the project is breaking new ground in archival work by situating social science and humanities approaches to historical research alongside physical science data, to achieve combined results that have a purpose beyond the production of traditional historical narratives.

Rebecca will now work to prepare the collection for deposit in the British Library.