Daily Sketch Aug 1940Oral History Collections in the UK

There are many hundreds of oral history collections across the UK, many of which hold recordings which cover the period of World War II.

The museums, record offices, libraries and local history centres which are listed on this site are split into three principal areas:

National Collections
These collections are held at large archives and national museums across the UK, and include many hundreds of records. Examples include the Imperial War Museum Sound Collection and the Royal Naval Museum archive in Portsmouth. Also included in this section are military museums which are not linked to specific regiments.

Online Collections 
These are websites which focus predominantly on publishing personal recollections of World War II online. Examples include the extensive BBC People's War website, and the Wartime Memories Project. There are hundreds of personal sites which feature individual memories, and some of these will be included at a later date. For information on non-UK online collections, visit the links page.

Local Collections
The majority of the collections listed on the site are held at sound archives, regimental museums, city museums, record offices, libraries and local history centres. The size of these collections varies from one or two recordings to many hundreds. While their coverage may be specific to the local area (eg: recollections of the blitz on Liverpool or D Day preparations in Hampshire) some collections cover many areas, including interviews with Canadian soldiers, Merchant seamen and German POWs.

The collections are split into geographical areas:

  • The South West & Channel Islands (Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Bristol, Gloucestershire & the Channel Islands)
  • The South East (Hampshire, Isle of White, East Sussex, West Sussex, Surrey, Kent, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire)
  • London (all of Greater London)
  • East of England (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire)
  • West Midlands (Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Staffordshire, Shropshire, Herefordshire)
  • East Midlands (Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire)
  • Yorkshire & Humberside (West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, East Riding of Yorkshire)
  • North West (Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Cumbria, Cheshire)
  • North East (Tyne & Wear, Northumberland, Durham)
  • Wales
  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland

Within each area, the collections are listed alphabetically. This includes local history groups, regimental museums, museums relating to local airfields, as well as county record offices, city and town museums and libraries.

Are you missing?
This is not a comprehensive list - there are many other collections of recordings which have not been included on the site yet. If you are responsible for a collection and wish to be included or have any questions, please contact me.

Alternatively, you can complete the registration questionnaire online.

Subject Index
If you are looking for interviews which focus on particular subjects, the subject index provides an overview of the content of the collections.