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CLARIN-PLUS workshop: "Exploring Spoken Word Data in Oral History Archives"

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Monday, 18 April, 2016 - 10:00 to Tuesday, 19 April, 2016 - 17:00

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Videos of the invited talk and presentations are published on the CLARIN Videolectures channel

Programme, Slides and Podcasts

The full programme (PDF) can also be downloaded, and the videos or the presentations are available as a series from University of Oxford Podcasts. Slides from additional short presentations are also included as attachments at the bottom of the page.

  • Welcome and introductory remarks, Franciska de Jong, Executive Director, CLARIN ERIC slides
  • From Search to Exploration: Barriers and opportunities in using oral history archives as data resources, Jakub Mlynář, Malach Centre for Visual History slides
  • Oral History as Research Data: Interviews, collections, archives, data and history - a view from the UK Data Archive., Louise Corti, UK Data Archive slides
  • Oral History Collections: How to exploit the multidisciplinary potential of Oral History narratives, Stef Scagliola, Erasmus University Rotterdam slides
  • CLARIN Data, Services and Tools: What language technologies are available that might help process, analyse and explore oral history collections?, Dieter van Uytvanck, CLARIN slides
  • Increasing the Impact of Oral History Data with Human Language Technologies, How CLARIN is already helping researchers, Arjan van Hessen, CLARIN slides
  • Language Technologies: ELAN: A short introduction to the ELAN annotation and processing suite of tools, Sebastian Drude, CLARIN slides
  • Language Technologies: INTER-VIEWS: A Search and Annotation Tool for Oral History, Henk van den Heuvel, Radboud University slides
  • Oral Histories of Hidden Children in Denmark during the Holocaust: Narratives, Identity and Trauma, Sofie Lene Bak, University of Copenhagen slides
  • Building an open sound archive: The case of the Grammo-foni ( project, Silvia Calamai, University of Siena slides
  • Using forced alignment and HTML5 media syntax to share speech archive data, Powerful language technology tools and methods to support oral history research, John Coleman, University of Oxford slides
  • Forced alignment using FAVE and DARLA: Powerful language technology tools and methods to support oral history research, Josef Fruehwald, University of Edinburgh slides
  • Speech data in Swedish national archives and government authorities, Jens Edlund, KTH Royal Institute of Technology slides
  • Researching Holocaust survivors in Greece through the Visual History Archive, Issues and debates in the research use of testimony, Kateřina Králová, Charles University in Prague slides
  • Testimonies on Nazi Forced Labour and the Holocaust: Building Digital Environments for Research and Education, Cord Pagenstecher, Freie Universität Berlin slides


Oral history is a specific sub-discipline of history that has benefitted from the increased popularity of the personal narrative. Oral history can be defined as the practice of eliciting people’s personal memory of lived experiences that are absent in written archives, and documenting them with a recording device with the purpose of turning the interviews into historical sources.

The ‘digital turn’ has had an enormous impact on this archival practice. Currently much unique and valuable spoken language data reside in oral history archives, in the form of digital audio and video, written transcripts and non-digitized recordings. Speech and language technologists have developed various software tools and platforms for the analysis and exploration of the various layers of meaning in spoken data. But despite the large amount of research carried out in numerous disciplines to create, explore and analyse oral history data, the state of the art software is often not exploited by researchers in the humanities and the social sciences. At the same time oral history data is rather underused by linguists. CLARIN has organized a workshop to bring together those doing research on oral history archive data, including archivists, language technologists, social scientists and linguists

As part of the CLARIN-PLUS project, a two-day workshop took place at the University of Oxford on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th April 2016.

The focus of the workshop was on the following questions:

  • What language technologies exist and can be used to help explore and analyse collections?
  • What are the barriers to uptake for these tools, and what can CLARIN do to take them away?
  • How can we integrate disparate collections to make more coherent historical collections, language corpora, and virtual collections?
  • Can we identify themes that could be studied from a cross-European (comparative) perspective and what could CLARIN do to support such studies?

The outcomes of the workshop included:

  • Proposals for new resource development and integration in CLARIN;
  • Proposals for new future joint research projects;
  • Requirements for the tools and services that could support of researchers working with oral history data, including ideas for tutorial development.


Participants include people representing and working with:

Practical Information

The workshop will start on Monday 18th April 2016 at 09:30 and end on Tuesday 19th at 15:30. It will take place at the Oxford e-Research Centre, 7 Keble Road, Oxford. How to find the OeRC.

Participants are expected to arrive in the course of Sunday afternoon and leave on Tuesday evening.

Accommodation will be provided at Trinity College, Oxford, in walking distance of the venue, bus stops and the train station. The accommodation costs for these two nights will be covered by CLARIN ERIC with the funding for the CLARIN-PLUS project.

For those for whom there is no connection available in the evening of Tuesday, we have reserved a limited number of places for one extra night on a first come first serve basis.

Please book your own travel and claim reimbursement from CLARIN ERIC using the claim form which will be provided to participants.

Travel from the workshop venue in Oxford to Heathrow airport takes from 1.5 to 2 hours in total. We recommend flying to Heathrow and taking the Airline bus ( to Oxford.If you can find a flight arriving at Terminal 5, this will give you the easiest transfer. Terminals 1-3 are served by the Central Bus Station. Terminal 4 is the mosst difficult - you need to take the free bus to Terminal 5 before you can catch the Oxford bus.You can get off the bus at the bus stops called 'High Street', or 'Gloucester Green Coach Station' (the last stop).

Other travel possibilities include:

  • travel by Eurostar train to London, with a connecting train from London Paddington to Oxford;
  • fly to Gatwick then take the Airline bus service to Oxford, for which you should allow 2.5 hours travel time;
  • fly to Birmingham International or Southampton airports, with direct train connections to Oxford from the airports.

The workshop is funded by the European Commission under Horizon2020 as part of the CLARIN-PLUS project. A budget is available to cover the costs of travel, accommodation and meals for the selected participants. Please get in touch with Martin Wynne ( with any queries.

Programme and Slides are included as attachments below.

University of Oxford
Oxford e-Research Centre
7 Keble Road
United Kingdom