Steve McCulley, Founder and Owner Lios Bikes
I cannot recommend Barbara highly enough. She’s extremely professional, but also creates a relaxed environment within which you can talk about your experiences. Initially I wasn’t sure if I would be able to remember everything, but she is excellent at enticing out all the details, including smells and sounds, which help to bring the memories alive.
In the end we spent 15 hours recording my military memoirs, but I’m so glad I did it because as well as the high quality audio files, Barbara produced an incredibly detailed summary of the transcripts as well.
Emily Naish, Archivist, Salisbury Cathedral
It was a pleasure to work with Babs on our Volunteer Voice oral history project. Babs advised and supported us throughout the project’s development and implementation. The training sessions in interviewing, transcribing and using audacity were excellent and extremely effective and well received by all participants and the availability of ongoing support very much welcome. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Babs to anyone, her knowledge and experience of oral history is second to none!
Terry Bracher, Archives and Local Studies Manager, Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre
Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has worked with Barbara Gibson (Spoken Histories) on a number of projects, notably the SEEME Wiltshire Black History Project and the Arctic Convoy Project. Barbara has always produced excellent work and we have been very pleased with the positive and sensitive way she has engaged with participants, either when recording peoples’ stories or training them in Oral History Techniques. She builds good working relationships with customers and project partners. We are always delighted to work with Barbara, who communicates well, always delivers her projects on time and to a high quality. We would certainly recommend her to other organisations.
Lisa Holmes, Stonehenge Community Projects Manager, English Heritage
I was struck by Barbara’s ability to leave the floor open for people to really speak their histories, drawing them towards extraordinary memories through the gentle art of conversation and open questions. She works so ethically which was really important for our project, taking great care to log in detail, provide useful summaries and fully checking in with consents and agreements about where people’s voices and memories would be placed. Thoroughly efficient with an excellent quality product that was easy to work with at the close of the project I can’t recommend her work in delivering oral history projects highly enough.
Alison Kay, History Co-ordinator, St Mark’s CE Junior School, Salisbury
Our Year 5 children were thrilled and delighted to have the opportunity to work with Barbara to explore the stories of ex-pupils and teachers. She engaged all of them whatever their ability and each child (out of a total of 75!) felt that they had a special role to play in the process. Her expertise enabled the children to explore the role of an interviewer and reflect on their own strengths. The ‘technical’ sessions were clear and concise providing great opportunities for children to ‘have-a-go’. The interviews were a highlight for all involved and both children and guests were extremely complimentary about Barbara’s support and encouragement. Thank you Barbara for a great day!’
Mark Powell, Associate Director of Salisbury Playhouse
‘Barbara hit the spot with her tailor-made oral history training for members of our Mind the Gap group. The oral history process formed a significant part of their 1960s Stories project. They really enjoyed her style and how it related to performance. They had great fun recording each other and eliciting their fascinating 1960s stories which also made for a great bonding experience. They also recorded 1960s stories from older people in the community. The group went on to stage a very creative and moving performance using clips and memories from their recordings, alongside actors from the Stage ’65 Youth Theatre, at the Salisbury Playhouse. Barbara was also instrumental in helping us set up a structure for archiving their recordings, images and artefacts for the project. I recommend her.’
Mrs C from Hertfordshire commissioned SPOKEN HISTORIES to record her father’s life story
‘Thank you so much Barbara for doing such a wonderful recording and presentation. I’ve heard lots of his stories I’ve never heard before. I hope dad wasn’t too much of a handful! What a great treasure for me and my children to remember him by, and a great way to bring our family history to life.’
Clare Christopher, Project Co-ordinator, Milford Street Bridge Project, Salisbury
“Barbara has been an integral part of our team during the planning and now the running of our project. The Milford Street Bridge Project is a fifteen month heritage and arts project looking at an area of Salisbury and it how has changed in the twentieth century. The Milford Street Bridge stands at the centre of the project area, and carries a four lane road over what used to be residential and industrial buildings.
As a community group run mainly by volunteers we did not know how to capture the heritage of the area – we just had a vague idea of what oral history is. Barbara has brought oral history right to the centre of the project, making it the most crucial component from which all the other aspects come.
This has involved Barbara training a team of volunteer interviewers who are now recording the stories and memories of some of our older residents. The two day training created specifically for the project by Barbara was very successful with excellent feedback from all participants.
There is also a transcription team, again trained by Barbara, the members of which are creating verbatim transcripts which we will use for the rest of the project time. Again, their feedback on Barbara’s training was very good.
This part of the project is running smoothly, under Barbara’s expert guidance. All of the team members are assured that they can contact Barbara for advice, and she is always helpful and knowledgeable.
Another part of our project has been at St Martin’s Primary School, where Barbara trained a group of 10 year olds in oral history. They held a really successful interviewing afternoon where older members of our community went to the school. Both the children and the interviewees had a wonderful time, under Barbara’s gentle and sensitive guidance. Barbara has since created an edited CD of clips of these interviews which the children are going to use for a variety of learning activities.
Throughout the project Barbara has shown such enthusiasm and knowledge of oral history, and this has been infectious for all of the team.”
Emma Rouse, Cranborne Chase AONB
“Barbara worked with the AONB on an ongoing project to create oral histories for the coppice and underwood workers of the AONB. She is easy to work with and creates a great rapport with interviewees. The final product including recordings, videos and summary transcripts was created to a high standard and is a great addition to the AONBs work.”
Heather Patrick, SEEME Wiltshire Black History
“Our project committee hired Barbara to train volunteers in oral history interviewing techniques and skills. She also produced several excellent quality interviews herself which will be used on the project. Barbara had to engage with volunteers and other individuals/professionals from very diverse backgrounds including age, gender and ethnicity. Her communication skills are excellent and her ability to help people feel at ease is first rate. Barbara is very knowledgeable and experienced in her field and I would not hesitate to recommend her for future projects.”
David Dawson, Director, Wiltshire Heritage Museum
“Barbara completed a fantastic oral history project for us, interviewing people who had been involved in WW2, as part of our Wiltshire At War exhibition.”
Lisa Webb, Curator, Wiltshire Heritage Museum
“Spoken Histories made the Museum’s oral history project about the Home Front during World War II a real success! The interviews that were carried out captured the memories perfectly. A highly professional service that I would recommend to anyone wanting to record recollections of the past for the historical record.”
Kay Fue Lay, Family Oral History course participant
“It’s been a great course – very relaxing and informative thoroughly enjoyed it and highly recommend it. I now know what questions I want to ask and how to prepare for my mother’s interview. I was really impressed by what software packages can do and with practice will be able to manage the sound editing I wish to do. We went through some theories and covered the legal aspects – raising my awareness of the whole subject.”
Suzanne Harvey, class teacher, St Martin’s CE (VA) Primary School, Salisbury
“Barbara was very enthusiastic when working with the children and her enjoyment and professionalism made the sessions interesting and challenging. Barbara knows her subject really well and she was able to guide the children in producing work of a high standard. The workshops were varied and well paced and we found them perfectly suited to this capable class of 10- and 11-year-olds.
Clear instructions, along with Barbara’s strong communication skills, helped particularly in the training sessions for the Handy Recorders and the CD burning in the ICT suite. The children learned about open and closed questions and they very much enjoyed testing them out to develop their understanding. By using praise and supportive feedback, Barbara was able to get the best out of the children and she helped them to achieve a high quality outcome.
The interview day was a huge success, with both children and interviewees full of praise for the sessions. This was down to Barbara’s preparation and planning. She taught the children to respect the interviewees, as well as informing them about confidentiality and copyright as part of the interviewing process.”
Tanya Smith, Head of History Department, The John Fisher School, Purley
“I can certainly recommend Barbara. She worked with 20 students aged 12-18, for two days of intergenerational interviewing training in preparation for their film project; making a documentary about Croydon Airport. In the sessions they explored the relationship between interviewee and interviewer and the ethical considerations in oral history work. This opened up some really good discussions about the problematic nature of historical evidence and the particular issues associated with oral history; the fallibility of memory and the attitudes and circumstances which frame personal accounts. Barbara pitched the sessions perfectly to the ability and age of the students. She developed a relaxed rapport with them and focused on presenting the students with practical opportunites, using audio recorders and film camera to interview each other as well as members of the local community. She had clearly done her own personal research on the subject and arrived with an excellent set of resources providing the theoretical foundation for the training. The students were engaged and enthusiastic and this is testament to Barbara’s positive and confident manner. ”
Pam Wall, Family Oral History course participant
“This course has opened my eyes to new ways of recording family history, which will complement the family tree in its traditional sense.”
Abbie Guymer, class teacher, Western Downland CE (VA) Primary School , Rockbourne, Fordingbridge
“Being involved in the Rockbourne Roman Villa oral storytelling project was really fascinating. The pupils learnt how to organise an oral storytelling session and how to ask questions and listen and respond to the answers given. The memories of the interviewees gave the pupils a unique insight into how different life was only a few decades ago.”
David Burton, made a personal commission
“I am so pleased I asked Barbara to record my life story. She asked me some very insightful questions which triggered off many more memories that I had long forgotten. She is very easy to get on with. I am more than pleased with the result and I highly recommend her.”
Molly Linn’s oral history was commissioned for ‘Men Remade’ exhibition at Wandsworth Museum, supported by the Wellcome Trust and Victoria and Albert Museum, London
“From the moment you stepped through the door I felt absolutely relaxed with you. You are not pushy; you just let the person say what they want to say. I mean that, I really do. I trusted you, I could talk about difficult things, I really enjoyed doing this recording.”
Monica commissioned an oral life-history of her immigrant mother who came to London in 1954
“I am absolutely delighted with the beautifully bound transcripts incorporating our family photographs and the matching bound 6 CDs in a slip cover. The quality is even better than I expected. It is something of Ma we’ve got forever. Being immigrants we’ve lost our sense of culture and this makes it very real. It has helped us connect more with our mother and explains so much about who she is.”
Dr Wendy Rickard, London South Bank University
“I first met Barbara ten years ago. After reading her book, ‘Male Order: life stories from boys who sell sex’, I was interested in the way she had chosen to use life history and her clearly empathic and respectful involvement in such sensitive, and often closed, life worlds. The culmination of our meeting came when we worked together on a project at the University of East London (UEL) titled: ‘HIV/AIDS Testimonies’. Barbara revealed herself as a powerful interviewer and a wonderful, thoughtful person. The following year another project funded by the then Health Education Authority drew heavily on Barbara’s skills and initiative in undertaking life history work with homeless people. Again she established rapport quickly with everyone she met and produced some honest, emotional and insightful interviews. Barbara has since become a well liked figure on the British oral history scene and has initiated a range of interesting pieces of oral history based work. A decade later, we are now setting up a longitudinal follow up through the Institute of Primary Care and Public Health at London South Bank University. Working directly with Barbara again is a very comfortable and inspiring place to be.”
“When my wife died in 2002, my son was approaching his 3rd birthday and I realised as he became older he would want to know what kind of person his mother was. I decided to document the memories of mine and others who had known her. I found Barbara, we discussed ideas. She came to the ‘celebration’, a gathering of family and close friends and recorded shared reminiscences and those who wanted to make a private contribution for my son. She also did private in depth recordings with her closest friend and sister. Barbara was respectful, discreet and sensitive. I now have a set of excellent CD’s and archival CD’s. Labels and covers designed from our treasured photographs. Produced to a very professional, high standard. My son and I will enjoy these for years to come. I would fully recommend Barbara’s services to anybody.”
Paul, North London
“Many thanks for all your help and advice. I’ve just recorded both parents’ life stories and all went very, very well. I learned so much about them, we talked for hours. I’ve wanted to do this for years and did not know how. Meeting you has made this all happen.”
Maria started going to local exercise classes and learned to swim when she was 91. A CD of Maria (aged 98 and still exercising) was commissioned by Camden Active Health Team and is used as a training resource to promote Physical Activity. Maria says:
‘ I felt very comfortable with you, you gave me plenty of time to say things the way I wanted to, I am fairly deaf and you were very patient.’
After giving a presentation to U3A, London
“Thank you for doing a very inspiring talk, you were great! We loved listening to your extracts and our stimulating discussion afterwards.”
“Many thanks to Barbara for providing a very professional service, on this occasion she produced a recording for a public audience. She helped to shape the initial brief and steered her interviewee with a natural ease, covering some particularly difficult subjects with the sensitivity they required. She met the tight editing deadlines and provided a final product which was both beautifully presented and simple to operate. We will use your services again.”