Personal Histories Project Comes to Southampton

The Department of Archaeology is delighted to announce that the Personal Histories Project is moving to Southampton.

My job was to go to the challenging museum and select the objects [...] The first was always the star object - and in this case it was the Wilton Bowl. Out it came and in due course was passed to Mortimer Wheeler. He gave a dazzling dissertation about the art of this particular period, about the clasps on the sides which were decorated with enamel in a lovely Celtic design. The programme was a great success. That night, the objects were carefully packed up and sent back to Salisbury by car. The following morning - a Sunday - I had Hugh Shortt on the phone. 'One of the clasps was missing!'. 'It can't be', I said. 'Yes, it is so,’ said Hugh. 'My job is at stake. This country's historic artistic tradition has been damaged. I simply don't know what to do.' 'Don't worry', I said. 'We will find it.'

Sir David Attenborough on “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?”
Personal Histories 12th October 2009

Founded in 2006 by oral historian Dr Pamela Jane Smith and based at the Division of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, the Personal Histories Project (PHP) collects and disseminates oral histories created with the movers and shakers of archaeology, as well as running public speaking events with influential figures of the discipline.

Previous oral histores include Professor Colin Renfrew, Sir David Attenborough, Dr Jane Goodall DBE, Sir Tony Robinson, Dr Francis Pryor, Professor Mick Aston, Professor Chris Stringer, Professor Graeme Barker, Distinguished Professor Mike Schiffer, as well as Southampton’s own Professors Clive Gamble and  Tim Champion, and many more distinguished scholars and contributors to archaeology. Topics previously covered by PHP include 1960s New Archaeology, gender in archaeology, histories from people of colour in Cambridge, the history of TAG, the history of CAA, the history of the Duckworth Laboratory, the history of the MacDonald Institute, primatology, human origins, television and archaeology, and palaeoeconomics. The Personal Histories Project at Cambridge was generously supported by financial grants from Pamela's late husband, the Africanist archaeologist Thurstan Shaw, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, the Newton Trust, the Roberts Fund, the Thriplow Charitable Trust, Mr John Pickles and many anonymous donors.

To celebrate the transfer to Southampton we are also pleased to announce the online launch of Personal Histories Project’s film from the panel discussion recorded at the Babbage Lecture Theatre, University of Cambridge, 12th October 2009 featuring Sir David Attenborough, David Collison, Anna Benson Gyles, and Ray Sutcliffe. The transcript of this recording is available on our project page.

Following her retirement in October 2017, Pamela has generously offered to hand over the celebrated Personal Histories Project to the Department of Archaeology at the University of Southampton. This is a wonderful and timely opportunity for Southampton to develop this important research resource and expand the community of contributors Pamela has established.

Please stay tuned for more news about Personal Histories Project at Southampton including upcoming events and oral histories, by signing up to our mailing list at our new website, and by following us on social media.

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