This project interested in how the experience of growing up in the North East has changed over the last 40 or so years. It aims to preserve and deepen our understandings of North East heritage by capturing stories of childhood from local communities.
Most research that currently exists on this topic doesn’t represent the North East very well and doesn’t look much beyond the 1970s. Conclusions about how childhood has changed in “Britain” are often too general to apply to the North East region, which has a specific history during this period.
Since the 1980s the North East has seen most of its old industries gone. Many of the places where mines and factories once were have been redeveloped into shopping centres or country parks, although some are still left standing. The environments where children of the North East grow up have changed, and we want to see how those changes have changed childhoods. There are new housing developments, the roads are busier, and phones and computers have become much more important parts of children’s lives, which has left some parents worried that their children don’t spend enough time outdoors. We want to gather intergenerational stories to chart and understand how changes in the North East since the 1980s have affected childhoods.
By working with local communities and archives the project seeks to ask 3 key questions:
1. How have children in the North East engaged with and shaped the places they live in the context of deindustrialisation and the rise of new fears about children and the ‘outdoors’?
2. In what ways were children’s experiences of their local area shaped by how they were talked about and portrayed by policymakers and the media?
3. How does the gathering and analysis of oral testimony through interviews enable children to be placed at the center of their story?
The project is headed by Louis Holland Bonnett (myself) and is supervised by Dr Matthew Kelly, Dr Leona Skelton, and Dr Laura Tisdall. It is funded by Northern Bridge.
Oral History Methods and Ethics
This project relies on the contributions of individual local people telling their stories about growing up and parenting in the region. To do this, an interviewer will have a conversation with participants about this topic and audio record it. In order to make sure the interviews are conducted ethically, participants will be fully informed about how their testimonies will be collected, used, and stored, and have full control over what happens after the interview. They can choose to omit any or all of their interview from the record, and any use of their testimonies will be done only with permission. For a more in-depth explanation, please read the ‘Participant Information Sheet’ that you can download from the ‘Participant Information‘ tab above.
I’m Louis, a Newcastle local and a PhD student at Northumbria university. Talking with people its clear that the experience of being a child has changed a lot in the region just over the course of a single generation, and I want to investigate that. I’m a big fan of North East folk, of going on walks around the region, and – of course – uncovering the hidden histories of its people and places.
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