Daily life and work during World War Two: Railway workers ... - ahicf

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Daily life and work during World War Two: Railway workers ... - ahicf

Oral history archive launched online

Daily life and work during World War Two:

Railway workers’ stories and reminiscences”

Paris, the 24 th of June 2013

In order to perpetuate the memory of World War Two, in 2012 the French national railway company

(SNCF) asked its former employees and their families to share their recollections of the period. Known for

its experience in collecting life histories, the French Railway Historical Society (AHICF) was

commissioned by the SNCF to carry out an oral history project, taking as its starting point an appeal for

witnesses published across France between January and December 2012.

This appeal has been a real success. 700 people responded and by its deadline, on the 31 st of December

2012, we had planned more than 200 interviews. Half of the interviews have already been recorded and

filed in a collection entitled “Daily life and work during World War Two: Railway workers’ stories and

reminiscences”.

Several hundred unpublished documents, including photographs, diaries and letters, have also been

shared by the witnesses. The SNCF’s Records and Documentation Department (SARDO) is in charge of

their preservation, digitisation and long-term storage.

Since April 2013, the first 20 interviews have been made fully accessible on the website

Mémoire orale de l’industrie et des réseaux available via the following link: www.memoireorale.org

.

More interviews will be regularly uploaded in 2013 and 2014 during the collecting and editing phases.

Eventually, the whole collection will be accessible online.

The stories told by the interviewees, who are either retired railway workers or their close relatives,

constitute a valuable corpus depicting many aspects of daily life and work between the 1930s and the

1950s. Among the various topics covered, the recordings deal with life in company towns, the experience

of being an apprentice, the black market, forced labour in Germany (STO), Youth work camps (Chantiers

de jeunesse), the presence of occupying forces, family life, bombings, resistance activity and post-war

reconstruction.

The staff of the AHICF’s Sound archives department includes oral historians, archivists, sound engineers,

linguist researchers and outreach officers, who have been working full time to record, archive, analyse and

edit the interviews to make them publicly available. Our rigorous editing and archiving methods aim to

make the recordings available for the general public as well as enabling the long-term storage of the

collection and its use in future research. The secure storing of these interviews has been made possible

thanks to our partnership with the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and its digital

humanities branch TGE-ADONIS, which hosts the website Mémoire orale de l’industrie et des réseaux.

This online launch of a part of the collection online is one of a series of scientific and cultural events

scheduled for 2013-2015 to publicise this oral history project.

Association pour l’histoire des chemins de fer

9, rue du Château-Landon, F- 75010 Paris France

Phone: +33 (0) 1 58 205 101

Site: www.ahicf.com

E-mail: contact@ahicf.com

Pôle Archives Orales

9, rue du Château-Landon, F- 75010 Paris France

Phone: +33 (0) 1 58 20 51 84

Site: www.memoire-orale.org

E-Mail: archives_orales@ahicf.com


About oral history archives in France

Interview recording enables the creation of archives that complement other kinds of sources available to

researchers. Oral history is inspired by the methods of life history research and qualitative interviews used

in the social sciences. Like other sound archives they are organised in different collections available to

researchers and the general public.

The AHICF’s new collection “Daily life and work during World War Two: Railway workers’ stories and

reminiscences” combines approaches from oral history and digital humanities.

About the French Railway Historical Society (AHICF)

Through its work with researchers, the railway industry and the public sector, over the last 25 years, the

AHICF has become an important research centre on the history of French and European railways.

Backed by an independent advisory board, the AHICF conducts research, provides heritage preservation

and management services, and creates and shares knowledge and documentary resources.

The AHICF has created oral history archives since 2002 and in 2007 it launched the website Mémoire

orale de l’industrie et des réseaux along with the Institut pour l’histoire de l’aluminium and the Comité

d’histoire de l’électricité (Fondation EDF).

A few examples of testimonies available for listening to on our website:

Mr. C., 92, the daily life of a young railway worker during the war, 2:03

Mrs. L., 77, reminiscences about her father and his resistance activity, 1:30

Mr. L., 86, the Nantes-Blottereau depot during the war, 3:05

Mr. R., 90, a railway worker from Alsace who became a “malgré-nous”, 2:16

Mr. S., 93, a railway worker who was made a prisoner of war in Germany, 1:49

Our partners:

SNCF: www.sncf.com

CNRS / TGE Adonis: www.tge-adonis.fr

Association pour l’histoire des chemins de fer

9, rue du Château-Landon, F- 75010 Paris France

Phone: +33 (0) 1 58 205 101

Site: www.ahicf.com

E-mail: contact@ahicf.com

Pôle Archives Orales

9, rue du Château-Landon, F- 75010 Paris France

Phone: +33 (0) 1 58 20 51 84

Site: www.memoire-orale.org

E-Mail: archives_orales@ahicf.com

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