Online Archives: Giving Oral History Research Projects an Afterlife


The digital era created significant challenges for researchers while also creating significant opportunities to think about and do research differently. This case study is focused on an oral history research project on women’s work in Ireland 1930–1960, which was completed in 2003 (see This project, which gathered 42 oral histories and related photographic images and memorabilia, generated publications, and other outputs. The photographic material and recordings were deposited to a national online archive, the Digital Repository of Ireland, in 2016. The challenges involved in undertaking primary research during COVID-19 provided an opportunity for online archives to promote their collections for teaching and research purposes. The case study outlined considers the opportunities as well as the challenges generated for researchers seeking to archive data they collect, in a research climate increasingly committed to Responsible Research and Innovation and exemplified in the promotion of research practices aimed at facilitating open access, public engagement and sustainability. This specific case study is used to highlight the value of online archiving for research projects. However, it is underpinned by a critical exploration of the kind of framework of engagement with digital archival collections, which should be encouraged, so that research subjects are not being made available for inspection, abstraction, and consumption in problematic ways.

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