"Someone really should record so-and-so..."

We all know people who have fascinating tales to tell, who have unique memories of times past.  Many people try to write down their life story, only to find it harder than they expected to put their thoughts down on paper, or that they don't feel they have anything important to say. Others would never think to try, but friends and family appreciate how much they have to give to posterity.

Zoetrope Histories provides a method of preserving precious personal memories, through the use of high-quality audio recording . It is enjoyable for the interviewee, who is also able to leave something of their life experiences for future generations within the family and beyond.  

I will visit the individual within their own home (or elsewhere if preferred), and encourage them to talk about their memories in a relaxed setting. The focus - childhood, work, hobbies, a bit of everything - is up to the interviewee. The end product is an accessible window into the life story of the client, for the family archive. 

I have been recording oral histories for over ten years, including work for Beamish Museum and Locomotion railway museum at Shildon. I am a member of the Oral History society and for five years was a representative in the region for the Oral History Society.

There are several packages available depending on clients' requirements. 

Audio recording: £30 per recorded hour (travel costs may be required for longer distances)

Additional CD copies can be purchased for £2 each

Audio recording with detailed breakdown of contents: £50 per recorded hour

Audio CD with full transcript of recording: £100 per recorded hour

Audio CD with full transcript and photographs / documents (provided by client) used to make an illustrated booklet: £150 per recorded hour

The interviewee can chose whether or not they also wish for their recording to go into a public archive; I can arrange all copyright forms and discuss options.

Other oral history services

Training in oral history recording

If you would rather record someone yourself, or if you are involved in a local history project and are part of a group with a Plan, I can provide half-day sessions covering all of the basics you need to get started in oral history recording - including the pros and cons, asking the right questions, and what not to do! 

"The session was well received and has given our members plenty to thing about. We received excellent feedback...." - Durham North Guides Association.

Additionally if you are a group considering starting an oral history project and wondering what is required, I can give a breakdown of all the things you need to consider at the planning stage - especially if you are aiming for HLF funding or similar!


I am also available to digitise existing collections from tape or minidisc (but not, sadly, from reel-to-reel) and catalogue the contents as required. In fact, I'm passionate about the need to do this - if you have unique tape recordings, please do get in touch, because they won't last forever!  (fun fact: tapes from the 1980s are especially prone to "sticky shed" deterioration. That's because the manufacturers had been told they weren't allowed to use whale oil in the making process any more, and hadn't yet come up with a stable alternative!)

I have transcribed literally hundreds of hours of oral history recordings for museums and heritage projects, and can do the same for you. Samples of previous work available on request.

Transcription costs £45 per recorded hour as standard. 


As well as individual recordings I am also available for hire to undertake combined work on a specific project. 

Examples of my freelance oral history work:

Farming Futures: Part of the wider Limestone Landscapes collaborative partnership on the limestone area of East Durham. I interviewed farmers about their lives in the area, the changes in farming practice over the years and their current work to encourage biodiversity on their land. At the same time I scanned images they provided, digitised old tape, and did library research, building towards a small exhibition.

Rain from the Hometown: this Durham City Arts project aimed to record the life experiences of elderly members of the Chinese community of the north east, and especially their memories of immigration, to help both their own children and grandchildren, and the wider public, to understand their lives. I undertook several interviews, some through a translator, to provide text for a booklet, and also inspiration for a drama project with local school children.