16 March 2016
The Regional Heritage Centre is delighted to report that the fundraising drive to enable the digitisation of the Elizabeth Roberts' Working Class Oral History Archive has achieved its target of £44,421.

A wide range of funders have supported this project: the Aurelius Charitable Trust (Surrey); the Cumbrian Railways Association; the Elspeth J. Thompson Charitable Trust (Lancaster); the Friends of Cumbria Archives; the Friends of Lancashire Archives; the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire; the Kirkby Archives Trust (Carlisle); the Lancashire Local History Federation; the Record Society of Lancashire and Cheshire. We have also been generously supported by donations from a range of individual supporters. Most recently The Mercers' Charitable Foundation (London) made an award of £4,000, and part of a legacy given to the University Library has provided the balance of the total of £21,741 which we needed to match a challenge grant of £22,500 made by the Sir John Fisher Foundation (Ulverston). The legatee was a graduate of the Centre for North-West Regional Studies, the precursor to the Regional Heritage Centre, and it feels particularly fitting that his generosity to the University Library should be used to help support the preservation of an archive which is jointly held by these two organisations as well as Lancashire Archives. 

This project aims to digitise the transcripts of this internationally-significant oral history archive, and to create a fully searchable, largely open access, online resource. The funding will also enable a community history project developed in collaboration with archive offices at Barrow and Preston. This will involve volunteers interviewing family members of the original interviewees, asking about their reactions to hearing the interview(s) given by their forebear, and gathering historic photographs, and perhaps photographing relevant artefacts, to form an online exhibition for presentation alongside the transcripts and sound clips of the Archive.      

Gary Rycroft, trustee of the Elspeth J. Thompson Charitable Trust, has commented: "The trustees felt the Elizabeth Roberts' Working Class Oral History Archive was a jewel which future generations would be grateful to this generation for preserving, sharing and passing on to them. The particular attraction was the fact that the Archive is rooted in the North West of England and gives significance to the many ordinary lives lived in our locality."

Although we have reached our funding target we are still accepting donations to support the project. You can read more about how you can support this important archive here