The QARANC Association oral history project is managed by the QARANC Association Heritage and Chattels Committee.
In previous generations nurses wrote letters home and also kept diaries and journals. Although few of these survive, those that exist give interesting insights into military nursing at that time. Some of these have been transcribed and added to our website. The practice of keeping diaries has gradually diminished, and so for more recent events there is little material to generate insights. Equally, there has been little mainstream and detailed research into the nature of army nursing over time, and especially in more recent conflicts. Nurses who might offer insights into military nursing at the time of the formation of the QARANC are a diminishing number, and so there is some urgency to gather their testimonies.
For the project to succeed as a true history there needs to be understanding of what makes an oral history, and the processes that underpin it, including the practical aspects of identifying interviewees, collecting and storing the data, as well as transcribing and archiving. Copyright release will be required so that the histories can be used in the future, and so that data can be shared with others interested in the history of Army nursing.
The key to oral history is the use of a framework. Rather than being restrictive the framework allows data collection to be more conversational and less interrogative, because the person can tell the story, and the interviewer can use the framework to redirect, to review, and to confirm key points. Unlike interview-based research which is usually anonymised and aggregated, oral history remains attached to the person. This requires informed consent and for those involved in the project to abide by ethical principles.
For us to be able to collect oral histories from both old and younger members of the Corps we need to have a number of people trained to collect oral histories using the framework we have established, and to transcribe them using our template.
We will be running two workshops in 2019 to train QARANC Association members. One will be at Robertson House in Camberley, and one (to be confirmed) in Birmingham. If you are interested in learning more about the project or attending a workshop, or if you know of someone you think we should interview, please leave us a message via the Contact page.