Manchester Studies Oral History

The Manchester Studies oral history collection was created by the Manchester Studies Unit at Manchester Polytechnic (now Manchester Metropolitan University) between 1974 and 1985. Funders included the Manchester Studies Trust and the Manpower Services Commission.

The collection includes hundreds of life story interviews with ordinary working people from Greater Manchester and the North West of England born in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The interviews can be grouped together into broad subjects that reflect the research interests of the academic staff involved in the project at the time.

Interviews related to the Jewish community are held by the Manchester Jewish Museum. Some interviews relating to the International Brigade and the cotton industry have already been digitised and have therefore been excluded from the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project.

image: m08148 Household Servants 

audio: Mrs Arnold (1103/22)


The north west hub selected just over 500 reels from this vast collection. The subjects covered in the interviews include:

Women in politics


Trade union / political activities


Domestic Service


Cotton Industry




Area surveys were carried out in Salford, Miles Platting Tripe Colony, Trafford Park, Wythenshawe, Moss Side, Ancoats, Altrincham, Crab Lane, Urmston, Crumpsall, Chadderton, Moston, Blackley/Harpurhey, Ordsall, Didsbury, Victoria Dwellings, Chorlton, Stockport, Openshaw, Ardwick, Northenden


Housing / Slum clearance


Poverty and pawnbroking




Music Halls / Variety Theatre / Public Houses


A number of blogs about the Manchester Studies collection have already been published on our site:

Going on a ‘monkey run’

‘Wythenshawe 1933’ animation

World war and its repercussions for the ordinary person in the north west

The Housewives of Wythenshawe

Moving to Wythenshawe

Life for women working in domestic service in Manchester after the First World War

Domestic service interviews from the Manchester Studies oral history collection

The Manchester Studies oral history collection


The full length interviews will be available at Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre in due course. Summaries and transcripts are held at Tameside Local Studies and Archives Centre. Photographs relating to some interviewees are held at Manchester Central Library. A selection of interviews will be published on the British Library website.

You can read the full descriptions online at the British Library’s Sound and Moving Image catalogue. The British Library collection reference is UAP008. The local reference is 1103.




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