Oral History Group

Oral history is the audio recording of memories, experiences and feelings. It preserves voices. Participants are involved in producing their own life histories and it offers opportunities for participation across a range of abilities.


Oral history is highly regarded by patients and families for its empathetic, meaningful and professional approach to preserving memories, voices and identities. Health care professionals view oral history as a complement to clinical care. 

For participants, an oral history interview is a chance for individuals to tell their story, to represent themselves in an account of their lives and have it professionally archived. In research, oral history offers insight into what is important to individuals and families in times of ill health. First hand accounts contribute subjective experience of illness and care, they communicate personal truths and understandings about the impact of illness on life and identity.  Our first oral history project began in 2007 in the Sheffield Macmillan Unit for Palliative Care, (Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust). The oral history group has established further projects nationally, all create and archive audio records which enhance the experience of patients, friends and family whilst receiving care.

What are our strengths?

Oral historians skilfully prompt the participant through their life story, giving the individual the opportunity to talk about themselves with no time limit or medical agenda, with an empathetic and non-judgemental interviewer. The oral history group has developed projects in palliative care, dementia and renal services. However oral history methods are applicable in a wide range of health care settings.

How can we help?

We will deliver a bespoke programme to suit your organisation's needs. Oral histories are permanently archived and can provide you with resources for education and research. The oral history team here at the University of Sheffield works closely with healthcare professionals to ensure that patients’ interests are best served. We will facilitate the creation of individual audio records within your organisation to complement and enhance the experience of patients, family and friends whilst receiving care and services. Our processes have been developed and evaluated over time and abide by ethical and legal guidelines. For further information, please download this leaflet: Are you interested in starting an oral history project in your setting?

Training course

An Introduction: Oral History in Palliative Care

Book your place

Thursday 22 September – Friday 23 September 2022, 1pm – 4.45pm on both days.

The booking link will be live again soon, sorry for the inconvenience. In the meantime please contact Michelle Winslow if you're interested in this course: m.winslow@sheffield.ac.uk

​​​​​​This course, run by the Division of Nursing and Midwifery (University of Sheffield) in association with the Oral History Society and National Life Stories at the British Library, aims to be an informal and practical introduction to oral history interviewing in a palliative care context. The day provides an introduction to the interview process, question techniques, sensitive and distressing interviewing, ethics, equipment and archiving, with an opportunity to discuss some of the issues around working with oral history, life stories and memory in palliative care.

The course is suitable for applicants who are:

  • Considering developing an oral history project as a service for people with life-limiting illnesses. The course will provide awareness of what’s involved rather than equip participants to start a project as a service for patients. If you are seeking to do this, support is available (NB funding required)
  • Or engaged in voluntary or employed work in a palliative care setting. In these circumstances there is an expectation that participants are working with organisations that have undertaken appropriate safeguarding checks and have the ability to offer emotional support

Places are limited to twelve per day course so please apply early. No previous experience of oral history is required.

Venue: This course will be delivered online by Zoom call.
Prices: Full attendance fee: £135.00 / OHS member fee: £100.00
Further information: Please contact Dr Michelle Winslow


Dr Michelle Winslow
University Teacher in Adult Palliative and End of Life Care
The University of Sheffield
T: 0114 222 2077
E: m.winslow@sheffield.ac.uk

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