Keele University

Throughout this series of blog posts on the UOSH Midlands collection holders, we have seen how both the number and size of sound collections that each institution holds has varied considerably. This post, by Elizabeth Gray, explores the three collections from Keele University’s Special Collections and Archives that the Midlands team worked with. Although relatively small, the collections still provided a lot of interesting material. 

A photo of the exterior of Keele University Library
Keele University Library (Credit: Jonathan Hutchins, CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Wilfred Bloor Collection consists of recordings made by the writer Wilfred Bloor of his Jabez stories, alongside radio interviews and live performances. The Jabez stories were written in the Staffordshire Potters dialect and reflected everyday life in his home region. The stories were originally published in the local Sentinel newspaper under the pseudonym A. Scott, before being published in three books during the 1970s. Bloor’s own interest in dialects inspired him to create the character of Jabez and this collection is fascinating listening for anyone interested in language or social history. 

The other two collections from Keele University focus on the subject of mining in Staffordshire. The William Jack Collection contains recordings from BBC Radio Stoke which explore the coal mining industry throughout history. The programmes discuss topics such as working conditions and production methods, providing an overview of the industry’s development. These recordings are only a small part of the William Jack Collection which also includes photographic and written material gathered by Jack, who himself worked at the Chatterley Whitfield Colliery. 

The Harold Brown Collection also provides insights into the historic mining industry. A former miner turned teacher, Harold Brown wrote about his experience in ‘Most Splendid of Men: Life in a Mining Community, 1917-25′. The collection consists of recordings of Brown reading extracts from the book, offering a more personal insight into the coal mining industry. 

A photo of Chatterley Whitfield Colliery.
Chatterley Whitfield Colliery (Credit: Chris Allen – https://m.geograph.org.uk/photo/3329868)

To find out more about Keele University’s Special Collections and Archives visit their website. You can also use the British Library SAMI catalogue to explore the sound collections further. 

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Colin Hyde

About Colin Hyde

Colin Hyde is the manager of the Midlands hub for the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project, based in Special Collections at the University of Leicester.

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