The nation's conversations made public as British Library puts Listening Project online

By Culture24 Reporter | 04 October 2013

A snapshot of the contemporary conversations of the great British public recorded for the innovative Listening Project have been made available online by the British Library.


a screenshot from the listening project website
The Listening Project: The BBC and British Library project has recorded over 700 conversations.
Over 350 intimate conversations recorded by people across the UK for the project, which launched last year as a partnership between the British Library, BBC Radio 4 and BBC local and national radio stations, are now available in full on the British Library’s Sounds website.

Covering people’s thoughts and experiences of everything from race and ethnicity, to the Iraq War, adoption and even plastic surgery, the snapshot of the nation will now be preserved indefinitely for future generations.

Over 700 people have taken part in the project, which asks people up and down the country to share their thoughts and feelings in a recorded conversation on a subject of their choice.

Extracts are then broadcast on BBC Radio 4 (and on BBC local and national radio) with the full recordings archived as part of the British Library’s Oral History collections.

From today, they are available for researchers around the world.

“Most of the oral history collections here at the British Library comprise interviews with older people reflecting at length on their lives,” says Rob Perks, Lead Curator of Oral History at the British Library.

“The Listening Project conversations are rather different; they tell us a great deal about relationships and inspirations, families and friendships, and what matters to people in Britain today. It’s especially interesting to hear from younger people whose voices are often missing from our archives.”

Of the participants who have taken part so far the oldest speaker is 85 years old and the youngest is eight. Conversations range from family relationships or favourite music to personal experiences of events like the 1984 miner’s strike or the London 2012 Olympics.

As well as a valuable social history snapshot of Britain in 2013 it is anticipated the archive will be of interest to linguistic researches who will be able track how language and dialect changes over time.

The 355 recordings from The Listening Project can be listened to in full at British Library Sounds website

To get involved, find out more and add your conversation to the project go the the BBC website


The fourth series of The Listening Project will begin broadcast on Friday October 4 on BBC Radio 4. You can find out more about how the recordings will be archived at the British Library in a ‘Listening Project Special’ to be aired on Sunday October 6at 14.45 on BBC Radio 4.


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