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The University of Southampton
Archaeology Part of Humanities

Personal Histories Project comes to Southampton

Published: 17 October 2017
archaeology building

The University of Southampton Department of Archaeology is delighted to announce that the Personal Histories Project is moving to Southampton.

My job was to go to the challenging museum and select the objects [...] The first was always the star object - and in this case it was the Wilton Bowl. Out it came and in due course was passed to Mortimer Wheeler. He gave a dazzling dissertation about the art of this particular period, about the clasps on the sides which were decorated with enamel in a lovely Celtic design. The programme was a great success. That night, the objects were carefully packed up and sent back to Salisbury by car. The following morning - a Sunday - I had Hugh Shortt on the phone. 'One of the clasps was missing!'. 'It can't be', I said. 'Yes, it is so,’ said Hugh. 'My job is at stake. This country's historic artistic tradition has been damaged. I simply don't know what to do.' 'Don't worry', I said. 'We will find it.'
Sir David Attenborough on “Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?”
Personal Histories , 12th October 2009

Founded in 2006 by oral historian Dr Pamela Jane Smith and based at the Division of Archaeology at the University of Cambridge, the Personal Histories Project (PHP) collects and disseminates oral histories created with the movers and shakers of archaeology, as well as running public speaking events with influential figures of the discipline.

Previous oral histories include Professor Colin Renfrew, Sir David Attenborough, Dr Jane Goodall DBE, Sir Tony Robinson, Dr Francis Pryor, Professor Mick Aston, Professor Chris Stringer, Professor Graeme Barker, Distinguished Professor Mike Schiffer, as well as Southampton’s own Professors Clive Gamble and Tim Champion, and many more distinguished scholars and contributors to archaeology. Topics previously covered by PHP include 1960s New Archaeology, gender in archaeology, histories from people of colour in Cambridge, the history of TAG, the history of CAA, the history of the Duckworth Laboratory, the history of the MacDonald Institute, primatology, human origins, television and archaeology, and palaeoeconomics. The Personal Histories Project at Cambridge was generously supported by financial grants from Pamela's late husband, the Africanist archaeologist Thurstan Shaw, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, the Newton Trust, the Roberts Fund, the Thriplow Charitable Trust, Mr John Pickles and many anonymous donors.

Following her retirement from the project in October 2017, Pamela has generously offered to transfer the celebrated Personal Histories Project to the Department of Archaeology at the University of Southampton. This is a wonderful and timely opportunity for Southampton to develop this important research resource and expand the already-diverse community of contributors Pamela has established.

To celebrate the project’s transfer to Southampton, and in honour of the 65th anniversary of the launch of ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral?’, we are also pleased to announce the online launch of Personal Histories Project ’s film from the panel discussion recorded at the Babbage Lecture Theatre, University of Cambridge, 12th October 2009 featuring Sir David Attenborough, David Collison, Anna Benson Gyles, and Ray Sutcliffe. The transcript of this recording will also be made available shortly.

For information on how to get involved and on our upcoming events, please visit the Personal Histories Project at Southampton website , sign up to our mailing list, and join us on social media.

For information on the original Cambridge based project visit the website .

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