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Museum People


Sound Archive

One of the museum's most impressive collections is its oral history archive. There are over one thousand recordings of people who lived and worked in the former empire and Commonwealth from 1910 onwards.

The oral history archive is accessible to everyone. You can hear excerpts now by clicking here.

Some recordings are featured in our permanent galleries, and it is also used as inspiration for 87.7 Commonwealth FM and the radio room schools workshops. If you would like to know more about the oral history archive please conatct the collections department at the Museum.


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If you need a media player to listen to the archive please click

Please select a sound clip.

1. Delhi Hunt

One of the attractions of colonial service for many young British men and women was the chance to lead a hearty, outdoor life. Here John Raisman remembers how he was able to indulge his love of riding as a young man in India

2. Groundnut scheme, Tanzania

Vivienne Bell remembers being recruited to work on the British Government's ill-fated Groundnut scheme in what was then Tanganyika, in East Africa.

3. Indirect Rule

Owen Griffiths, A District Officer in Uganda in the 1940s talks about the system of indirect rule the British used to run the Empire.

4. Film Stars

Owen Griffith was working as the Private Secretary to the Governor of Uganda when a host of hollywood stars came to stay during the making of the John Ford epic, "Mugambo".

5. Nursing in Tanzania

Mrs Marjorie Spencer MBE, Senior Health Sister in Northern Nigeria 1953 - 1965, Senior Health Sister in Sarawak 1965 -67, Matron in Nigeria during the Biafran War, 1967 - 69.

Mrs Spencer's passion for her profession is evident in her every word. In this extract she describes a visit to a remote village to treat a woman with a swollen hand.


6. Mrs Sarla Sharma

Sarla Sharma was a freedom fighter in India in the 1940's. She talks about her involvement with Baden-Powells guiding movement and how she refused to sing parts of the British National Anthem.

7. Calling the empire to arms during WWII

Allan Wilmot served the Royal Navy and The Royal Airforce from 1941 - 44. In this extract he talks about the racism experienced by West Indian Servicemen when they returned to the UK after WWII.