A Celebration of Florence Nightingale & Modern Nursing

To mark Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday, we’re recording new oral history conversations with the nurses and midwives who followed in her footsteps.  We’d be very grateful if you’d consider adding your voice to the mix. 

We’ll create a sound artwork composed of Nightingales’ oral histories with  original music inspired by their words. This will be performed by professional musicians in various settings. Sound Observations will culminate in a sound-rich permanent exhibition for Central Hall, at St Thomas’ Hospital (late 2020 / early 2021) and a permanent collection of audio at London Metropolitan Archives.  The title of this programme riffs on Florence Nightingale’s notes on “the sound observer” and her particular attunement to sonic details.  

Please get in touch if you’d like to share your stories and observations, or to recommend a nurse who you enjoy listening to!  We’ll be recording conversations with Nightingales of all ages and backgrounds, either one-to-one or in small groups.

Sound Observations is orchestrated by Marie-France Kittler, deputy arts manager from Guy’s and St Thomas’, and Laura Mitchison, oral history artist from On the Record. Recordings will be preserved at London Metropolitan Archives.

Visual ID: Joanna Layla (illustrator) / On the Record

We’re Recruiting a Sound Engineer / Sound Designer

To mark Florence Nightingale’s 200th birthday, we’re recording conversations with the nurses and midwives who followed in her footsteps. We’ll create a sound artwork composed of Nightingale nurses’ recordings, with original music inspired by their work. Sound Observations will culminate in an installation for Central Hall (late 2020 / early2021) located in St Thomas’ Hospital. We’re seeking a sound engineer / sound designer to support the programme. Please read and respond to the full brief and submit your tender by 26th July 2020:https://52df61af-ca9f-43e6-91f7-917b6c5e8126.filesusr.com/ugd/43f2fd_37a5d5c4eff148209324a5f3a84b5a69.pdf

We’re also looking for nurses and midwives to record oral histories with. Please read and respond to the full brief here.

The title of this programme riffs on Florence Nightingale’s notes on “the sound observer” and her particularattunement to sonic details:

  • “the rattle of keys”
  • “the fidget of silk
  • “the creaking of shoes and of stays”
  • “the noiseless drapery”
  • “the slow, lingering, shuffling foot”
  • “the nurse who whispers”
  • “the still small voice.”

The programme is funded by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity.

Sound Observations is orchestrated by Marie-France Kittler from Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals and Laura Mitchison from On the Record.

laura@on-the-record.org.uk / 07787243656. Call or email me with any queries.

Visual ID: Joanna Layla (illustrator) / On the Record

Housmans: 60 years of books and activism – VOLUNTEER

Are you interested in the history of movements for social change?

Do you want to develop heritage, creative and performance skills?

Contact us to register your interest – rosa@on-the-record.org.uk.

Starting in  June 2020 we will have volunteer opportunities for people aged 18 – 25 to record the history of Housmans using oral history, archives and photography and create an exciting site-specific theatre piece, to be performed in Housmans (once safe to do so), and a sound installation.

To apply please contact us or fill in this form.

Youth / Performance Co-ordinator sought

Housmans: 60 years of books and activism  is a youth-led oral history project which will tell the incredible story of Housmans Bookshop, one of the leading progressive, radical bookshops in the UK. Peace House, the building Housmans is based in, has provided space for grassroots movements for peace and social change since 1959.

We are seeking a Youth / Performance Co-ordinator to promote the engagement of young people in the project as volunteers and performers. Core responsibilities will include supporting young volunteers to research and record the history of Housmans (alongside the Project Manager) and leading on a site-specific theatre performance with verbatim elements to be performed by young volunteers in the bookshop in autumn 2020.

Freelance role. Fee: £11,700:  104 days at £112.50 a day.

Timescale: March – December 2020, with May-September anticipated to be the most intensive period  of work.

Apply by midnight on 13 February.

For full details and how to apply see Youth Performance Coordinator role description

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Project charting 60 years of Housmans Radical Bookshop secures National Lottery support

Bookshelves at Housmans. Photograph by Laura Mitchison.

Today, On the Record Community Interest Company has received a grant of £87,500 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund for an exciting heritage project Housmans: 60 years of books and activism, in Kings Cross, London. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will tell the incredible story of Housmans Bookshop, one of the leading progressive, radical bookshops in the UK, and Peace House, the building it is based in, which has provided space for grassroots movements for peace and social change since 1959. Read the full press release here


In 1959, Peace House was officially opened by veteran peace activists, including Vera Brittain, at 5 Caledonian Road. Meanwhile, the anti-nuclear movement was bursting onto the scene, with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, (CND) and the Committee of 100 emerging in the same period. Over the following 60 years, the flow of books, ideas and people through the building has reflected how grassroots politics in the UK has changed. Apart from the bookshop’s many customers, the building has sheltered a diverse crowd: peace activists seeking to ban the bomb or support conscientious objectors to war, activists from the Gay Liberation Front who started the first helpline for LGBT people in Housmans’ basement (now known as Switchboard), and dogged environmental campaigners who defended themselves against McDonalds in the UK’s longest ever libel trial, to name a few examples.


Housmans: 60 years of books and activism will engage young people, aged between 18-25, as volunteers. They will carry out research, conduct oral history interviews, collect and digitise an archive dedicated to the fascinating building at 5 Caledonian Road and the diverse group of organisations and individuals that have passed through its doors since 1959. With the support and direction of an experienced theatre director they will write and perform site-specific theatre based on the stories they have uncovered. Housmans bookshop will host these performances, a sound installation, and several discussion events based around its fascinating history. A full history of the building will be published, using original archive material collected. On the Record will be recruiting volunteers and a Youth Theatre Coordinator soon – register your interest by contacting rosa@on-the-record.org.uk

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On the Record Community Interest Company seeks a digital designer for web redesign and rebrand  


£1,500 including VAT and font licences.

About On the Record: inspiring social change with oral history

On the Record (www.on-the-record.org.uk) specialises in oral history that inspires social change. Since 2012, we have trained hundreds of people to record the memories of people and places that would otherwise be lost. We share the stories we gather through creative, high quality productions:  podcasts, artworks, books, exhibitions, websites and audio walks.

Our innovative oral history projects have seen us bringing the rich social, personal and political history of London to life. We have gathered memories from places as diverse as Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, community projects like Centerprise (Hackney) and the First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery (Walthamstow), two historic London hospitals and Brompton Cemetery. We have recorded orators and hecklers, community activists and literacy students, specialist medical staff and patients, parents and childcare workers, gravediggers and beekeepers. We work in partnership with leading archives such as Bishopsgate Institute.

Part 1: New logo and typography style-guide to be integrated across print and web. Fonts chosen to be accessible on both Mac and Windows.

Part 2: The website


  • Mobile optimised, minimal, contemporary & professional, as befits an established community arts organisation.
  • This rebrand is anticipated to last 5 years, so we would like to avoid design fads.
  • We require a simple CMS so we can update.
  • Each project/type of work has used different photographers, illustrators etc., so we don’t have uniform visuals for the home page. This means that the graphic visual identity must be strong enough to create a feeling of consistency.
  • Accessible for disabled users: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/accessibility-requirements-for-public-sector-websites-and-apps 

The website should showcase the types of work we do on the main homepage. These are:

– project management / coordination (we run our own projects and our website needs to be a portal to these microsites and provide space for us to build pages to showcase smaller projects that don’t have their own website. See https://on-the-record.org.uk/projects/ – this section urgently needs improvement)

– trainings (we have promotional material to sell our oral history training better and would like to showcase this on the site)

– audio production (podcasts, audiowalks, radio programs)

– exhibitions and public art,

– publications / books,

– consultancy and services (assistance with project management, evaluation, life story recording, participatory archiving, project delivery).

Other requirements for the website:

– clients and collaborators to be prominently listed.

– easy links to mailing list, twitter, Instagram and PayPal donations. Potentially a tab for volunteer and job opportunities (to replace the outdated news section of the current website).

– attractive integrated audio playback feature with dropdown transcripts, because we don’t want to rely on SoundCloud embeds or similar.


How to apply

Please send a briefcovering letter with links to your design portfolio, explaining how you would approach the commission.

It would be helpful to include references to websites and digital work, which meet various aspects of our brief, so we can begin a conversation with you.

Contact: Laura Mitchison: laura@on-the-record, cc-ing info@on-the-record.org.uk

Deadline: 14th January 2020, 5pm.


Sonic Notes from the Grays Inn Road


Author: Bernadette Devilat in collaboration with the Bartlett School of Architecture UCL.

Two historic London hospitals on the Grays Inn Road are moving to a new site on Huntley Street. We’d like your help creating artworks celebrating staff and patients of the Eastman Dental Hospital & The Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital. This project aligns sensory perception with architectural exploration during the hospitals’ last days on the Grays Inn Road.

Sonic Notes begins with behind-the-scenes walking tours of Space Age silence rooms and Art Deco murals, and ends with an installation in the new Huntley Street site (Phase 5). A publication and digital map / archive will delve deeper into the anatomy of the hospitals, and honour the people who make them tick.

The project is led by On the Record CIC & ScreenDeep. It is curated and guided by Guy Noble from UCLH Arts and Heritage. Sonic Noteshas been made possible by funding of £48,762 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and generous support from UCLH Arts and Heritage.


 Staff and patients

If you are a patient, staff member or you run a patient group affected by conditions treated by the hospitals we want to record your memories. We’ll meet you at a place and time convenient to you or invite you for tea and cake at the hospitals in the last week of October.

 We’ll also be turning the techniques used to image patients’ bodies onto the old buildings themselves which have been declared ‘no longer fit for purpose’ – if you’d like to nominate an object from the hospital for a sound or image study, get us in touch and share a story about it.


Potential volunteers

Learn how to make oral histories and ambient recordings and Foley in autumn/winter 2018/2019. This is an opportunity to get hands-on training and work experience with specialist oral history and sound art production companies, and contribute to the creation of a permanent arts and heritage installation. Volunteers should write up to 200 words explaining why they wish to get involved, clearly stating your availability.


Contact Details for Sonic Notes

Laura Mitchison


T: 07787243656

Olivia Bellas


Background on the hospitals

The Eastman Dental Hospital (EDH) (est. 1930) and The Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital (RNTNEH) (est. 1874) have been at the forefront of head and neck medicine for the last 150 years. The hospitals have a long tradition of surgical innovation (common surgical instruments are named after former staff) and diagnostics for conditions which resist objective tests (tinnitus, dizziness, trigeminal neuralgia). They have pioneered facial reconstructions for cancer patients, culturally-sensitive oral healthcare, and voice exercises relied on by performers including Lesley Garrett who was treated at the RNTNEH. The specialist expertise of these hospitals fosters a unique culture of care and familiarity between the long-serving staff and their often equally long-standing patients. The RNTNEH is the European centre for audiological research, and its voice clinic is the oldest and largest in the UK.

 About UCLH Arts and Heritage

UCLH Arts and Heritageis committed to providing a welcoming, uplifting environment for all patients, visitors and staff through the use of a varied and stimulating arts and heritage programme. Its work aims to improve patient well-being, boost staff morale, increase engagement with the arts and celebrate the Trust’s unique heritage.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. www.hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebookand Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.








Portraits from A Hackney Autobiography – new exhibition

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Learning from ‘Doing it Ourselves’

Revealing the History of Walthamstow’s First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery

In the 1970s working parents struggled to find places in nurseries for their children. Today’s parents face a different set of challenges, not least the struggle to afford the cost of childcare. At Walthamstow’s First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery parents could work at the nursery in exchange for a reduced fee. Parent – members worked together to run the organisation and employ its staff.  The nursery became an important feature of the local community, helping working parents with affordable childcare, while involving them in the education of their children and creating deep, lifelong friendships.

Oral history not-for-profit On the Record has received a £9,600 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for Doing It Ourselves: The First Neighbourhood Co-operative Nursery, Walthamstow. Made possible by money raised by National Lottery players, the project will record the history of this unique parent-led co-operative nursery and drop-in, led by a local parent and ex-member of the nursery, Eva Turner.

In 1977, childcare was a burning issue for working parents. A new toddler drop in was set up at Harmony Hall, Truro Road, E17 which gave space for parents to get together. It wasn’t long before they formed a parent co-operative to establish a nursery for under-fives. They found new premises at Verulam Avenue, Walthamstow, where it was based until the late 1980s. The nursery had a strong focus on innovative pre-school educational methods and provided training and employment opportunities for local parents.

Over the next year “Doing it Ourselves” will be collecting the memories of parents, staff and children involved in the nursery and starting an archive, to be held at Bishopsgate Institute in Liverpool Street. The project will culminate in an exhibition of collected material in local community centre The Mill and hold discussions and workshops, inviting local parents and children to contribute.

If you remember the nursery or are interested in becoming a volunteer researcher, photographer, archivist or in helping with project workshops and exhibitions, or for further information please contact On the Record: rosa@on-the-record.org.uk / 0785 322 8023

Notes for Editors

About Doing it Ourselves

  • Doing it Ourselves is a volunteer-led project supported by On the Record; a non-profit oral history co-operative specialising in amplifying the voices of those who have been hidden from history through workshops, trainings and creative productions, exhibitions, books, radio-shows and audiowalks.


  • Bishopsgate Institute will house the project’s archive. For over 120 years, Bishopsgate Institute has been a home for ideas and debate, learning and enquiry and independent thought.  We offer courses, workshops, talks and tours in subjects as diverse as London history, feminism, languages, Ballroom dancing, film studies, photography and creative writing. Our historic library, special collections and archives cover a variety of topics which explore radical, social, labour, feminist and gay history in London. The Institute is an oasis in the middle of a frantic city which provides you with the rare chance to explore, escape, research or relax.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund

  • Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife. hlf.org.uk. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and use #NationalLottery and #HLFsupported.


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Share your stories about Brompton Cemetery for a podcast series.


Share your Memories of Brompton Cemetery

Share your Memories of Brompton Cemetery



Be part of a new sound archive and podcast series exploring the Life & Death of Brompton Cemetery – one of the magnificent seven.