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Oral history and archaeology

The AWN Dutch Archaeology Society has a long history of archaeological fieldwork by volunteers, especially in the period before the Malta Convention (1992). As these volunteers get older, their experiences and knowledge are in danger of being lost and private archaeological collections may become orphaned. The AWN has taken the initiative to have students from Leiden University, the University of Amsterdam and Saxion University of Applied Sciences, among others, conduct oral history interviews with older volunteers. The interviews will cover their experiences in archaeology and their ideas for the future.

The stories will be made accessible to everyone also a meeting will be organised for interviewees and students together. The AWN also wants to develop a vision on the future of private archaeological collections together with partners. One example is the Hoogovens collection that was built up by volunteers over 60 years and is now being transferred to Huis van Hilde. This is in line with the growing focus on private collections and their owners following the Buma Committee’s advice.

The initiative aims to achieve four goals:

  1. Capturing the time picture on participation in archaeology in recent decades; letting generation of volunteers in archaeology tell their story.
  2. Dialogue between young and old on participation in archaeology: how do young people shape participation in their work in the future?
  3. Gaining knowledge about private collections of volunteers in archaeology that are in danger of being orphaned and the collectors’ ideas about the future of their collection and knowledge (often regional).
  4. To arrive at a protocol for ‘orphan threatened private archaeological collections’.

In July, an initial pilot was launched in Leiden in which students attended an oral history course run by the ‘Sprekende Geschiedenis Hub’. By 2024, we aim to scale up the project with the use of Faro funds.