Audiovisual Heritage at the University of Leicester


Sunday 27th October 2019 is UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. To join in the celebrations, this blog post looks at some of the Audiovisual Heritage work done at the University of Leicester.

Acetate or polymer reel to reel tape? Both!


I’ll start with the most recent project, Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH), which is based in Special Collections in the library. This partnership with the British Library, with funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is preserving thousands of recordings from across Great Britain & N Ireland, and we at the University of Leicester are the ‘hub’ for the Midlands of England. We started with recordings from the BBC Radio Leicester archive, and are now digitising collections from Worcestershire, Coventry, Derbyshire, and Nottingham. Eventually, we will digitise 5,000 recordings from across the region, while the project nationally will preserve 100,000 recordings.


The East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA) has been based in the Centre for Urban History since 2000 and has archived a huge number of oral history recordings from Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland, and the wider East Midlands. In addition to this, hundreds of people – students, academics and the public – have received help, advice and training in all aspects of oral history. You can search the EMOHA catalogue here, or listen to online exhibitions including Leicestershire & Rutland Remember the First World War, the Post War Oral History of Leicester, and Dialect & Oral History in the East Midlands. More oral histories are available online at Special Collections online (see below).


Interviewing Korean War veterans in 2014.

EMOHA is mainly concerned with preserving audio recordings but does occasionally use video. You can see some of these projects, such as Memories of the Korean War, Migration Stories and the Leicester Oral History Trail, as well as a huge playlist of history-related videos about Leicestershire & Rutland on EMOHA’s YouTube channel.



Special Collections is based in the David Wilson Library and is home to many rare books, manuscripts, historical photographs, engraved portrait prints and personal archives. Through Special Collections online you can listen to more than 400 oral histories from EMOHA, look at over 1,000 rare photographs of Leicester in the Vanished Leicester collection, and watch films from the Media Archive for Central England. The exhibition Manufacturing Pasts uses a range of media to look at Leicester’s industrial history. Other fascinating collections online include downloadable trade directories from the 19th century.


The Blue Boar on Southgate Street, 1965, from the Vanished Leicester collection.


All of this is not to forget the University of Leicester’s YouTube channel, which illustrates many aspects of life at the University and features fascinating videos documenting the discovery of the remains of Richard III and everything that followed. Filmed by an award-winning team, these videos are a wonderful record of a remarkable event. You can also watch Sir David Attenborough recalling his childhood at the University. Other University of Leicester films and videos can be found at the Media Archive for Central England (MACE) who were based in the Centre for Urban History before moving to the University of Lincoln.



UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2019 is an ideal opportunity to showcase the University’s commitment to Audiovisual Heritage. Many teams and individuals have worked hard, and continue to work hard, to create and maintain these resources for both the public and the academic community. We invite you to click on the links above and explore the huge range of material that is available.



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Colin Hyde

About Colin Hyde

Colin Hyde is currently managing the Sounds for the Future project, which is based in Special Collections. He has run the East Midlands Oral History Archive for many years.

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