The Life Story in Oral History Practice Symposium, 30 June/1 July 2023, London

Rob Perks Discussion

The Life Story in Oral History Practice: A Two-Day International Symposium

Bookings are now open for this exciting international symposium:  

Speakers from across the globe reflect on all aspects of life story interviewing including Alexander Freund (Canada/Germany), Indira Chowdhury (India), Alistair Thomson (Australia), Doug Boyd and Don Ritchie (US). Special guest on Saturday 1 July is artist and curator Lubaina Himid, to discuss her life story recording for Artists’ Lives. 


The Life Story in Oral History Practice: A Two-Day International Symposium

Fri 30 June 2023 and Sat 1 July 2023

British Library Knowledge Centre, St Pancras, London

A ground-breaking international two-day symposium hosted by National Life Stories at the British Library, re-examining the role of life story recording in oral history interview practice: fieldwork, access and archiving, analysis and future technologies, re-use and public outputs. At a time when the long-form biographical interview is being challenged by tight budgets and outcomes-focussed methodologies, the event aims to raise awareness of the value of the life story.

Friday 30 June: daytime sessions

10.00 – 17.00   

An exciting set of talks and panel discussions exploring:

  • the life story in historical context
  • life stories in practice: researching, interviewing, longitudinal studies
  • the challenges of institutional histories and post-colonial contexts
  • interface between new technologies, archives and life stories

Confirmed speakers include: Alexander Freund, Wendy Rickard, Alan Dein, Indira Chowdhury, Andrew Flinn, Doug Boyd and Julianne Nyhan in dialogue with members of the BL National Life Stories team.

Friday 30 June: evening reception and public event: The value of life stories of the environment

17.15 – 21.00

Following a drinks reception we will mark the launch of the new ‘Discovering Science’ website encompassing the celebration of the end of the National Life Stories project, ‘Farming, Land Management and Conservation in Post-War Britain’.

Sally Horrocks, Jon Agar and Paul Merchant will explore the value of life stories of the environment and agriculture, and we will welcome Fiona Harvey (leading journalist and environment editor at The Guardian) to give her perspective.  

We are grateful for the support of Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

Saturday 1 July 2023

10.00 – 15.00

Join us for in-depth conversations and discussions exploring:

  • the artist’s life story
  • using life stories in research and publication
  • the future of the life story

Confirmed speakers include: Lubaina Himid, Alistair Thomson and Donald Ritchie in dialogue with members of the BL National Life Stories team and keynote panellists from the Friday. 

A full programme and tickets are available at

Full Symposium and Single Day Passes will be available.  A Full Symposium Pass will cost £45 (Friday sessions including lunch, Friday evening reception and public event and Saturday sessions including lunch).  Single Day Passes will be charged at a lower rate. 

This event will be held onsite at the British Library.  No livestreaming will be possible.