National award recognises the Platform to Platform project: British Records Association Janette Harley Prize 2022 runner-up

LogoThe Edinburgh Napier University team that worked on the Platform to Platform (P2P) project to transform Lorna Lloyd’s Diary of the war into a podcast series is delighted to have learnt that this work has been highly commended as a runner-up for the British Records Association’s (BRA) 2022 Janette Harley Prize. This prize, awarded in memory of archivist Janette Harley (1951-2015), is intended to generate interest in archives, and raise awareness of research and achievements in the world of archives.

Our commendation was made on the basis of a submission that reads as follows:

We would like to submit our podcast series Lorna Lloyd’s Diary of the war for the 2022 Janette Harley prize. All eight episodes of the podcast series are accessible from https://rss.com/podcasts/lornalloyd/.

We created the podcast series in the first half of 2022 as part of a project called Platform to Platform. The project was supported with a £5000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It extended the work of Hazel Hall between 2019 and 2021 to digitise an archive on a photo sharing platform (Blipfoto). The funding also enabled the team to undertake empirical work to compare audience engagement with digitised archives in two formats: (1) online text and images; (2) audio.

The main content of the archive that we have digitised comprises written commentary on the events of World War II between September 1939 and January 1941, and details of life under war-time conditions in England. When war broke out in 1939, Lorna Lloyd – the author of the diary – was somewhat reluctantly living with her parents in Malvern, Worcestershire after a few years away from home, first as a student at Girton College, Cambridge, then as a school mistress.

Thanks to support of the British Library, FindMyPast, and the BBC, the podcast series also includes contemporaneous news stories from print and broadcast media. As a result, the podcast series presents a chronicle of the early years of World War II where one woman’s perspective is amplified with news content. Lorna’s words give us first-hand personal reflections on particular events. The narrated print media excerpts chart reactions to the same news at local and regional levels. The national perspective is provided through the inclusion of BBC content in the podcast episodes in two forms: (1) broadcast radio news clips and (2) readings from news report scripts.

As well as allowing access to BBC material that we know that Lorna herself heard at the time, the BBC Archive staff also helped us with another key element of the podcast version of the war diary: a theme tune. For this, we were keen to use a piece of music that Lorna mentions in the diary. The BBC Archive staff secured a BBC performance of César Franck’s Symphony in D minor for us, and advised on its use without breaking copyright.

Part of the originality of this work is that the actress who plays Lorna in the podcast series is a member of Lorna’s family. Lorna’s great-great niece Bethany Ray happens to have turned 25 this year, the same age as Lorna when she started writing her war diary. Three other voices contribute to the story: another professional actor plays Lorna’s brother; one of our PhD students is the announcer; and another non-professional (although with much experience of amateur dramatics) plays the newsreader.

The other personnel important to this project has been the production team. Five third year students from the School of Computing at Edinburgh Napier University – four from Sound Design and one from Software Engineering – have produced a highly polished, professional product that, to date, has been downloaded 17882 times from https://rss.com/podcasts/lornalloyd/.

The empirical work that we have conducted with audience members who are familiar with the archive on both platforms (Blipfoto posts and podcast episodes) is important and novel. This is because its focus differs from that of the limited amount of prior research on podcasting and archives, where archivists’ use of podcasts for outreach is the main area of enquiry. Our interests are engagement and impact, where the podcast is an entire archived data set presented as a performance.

The main findings from the empirical study are that a digitised archive in audio format supplemented with contemporaneous news content:

    • contributes to the entertainment value of the audience experience
    • makes the audience experience more vivid
    • gives audience members the opportunity to consume exactly the same news media as the author of the archived material
    • encourages the learning of listeners, with the news content serving as ‘additional references’
    • prompts a far greater emotional response to the atrocities of war than an archive digitised in text and images.

Furthermore, the casting of a Lloyd family member as Lorna here adds to the authenticity of the listening experience.

To conclude, the Platform to Platform project has demonstrated the value of the podcast format in unlocking the hidden value in archives, while making accessible a fascinating resource about the first-hand experience of living through the early months of World War II.

Resources:

The digitised archive in two formats:

Other work by Lorna Lloyd created as part of the Platform to Platform project:

Conference presentations on the Platform to Platform project:

Congratulations to the team members who worked so hard on the production of the podcast series: Principal Investigator Bruce Ryan; Co-investigators Hazel Hall and Iain McGregor; student production team members Alex Gencs, David Graham, James McLachlan, Andras Peter, and Michael Suttie; performers Bethany Ray (Lorna Lloyd), David Monteath (Theo Lloyd), Richard Godden (newsreader), and Katherine Stephen (announcer).

The project team also gratefully acknowledges the support of the wider community in bringing Lorna’s writing into the public domain, with special thanks to Jake Berger and Emma Gibbs (BBC Archive); Faith Renger (Malvern Museum of Local History); Marianne Wilson (researcher on the sister HOPSS project); Stella Wisdom (British Library); P2P project board members: David Darlington, David Monteath, Guy Puzey, Sarah Ames and Sue Dumbleton; the Blipfoto community; the project team at Creative Informatics; and the Lloyd family.

We are now looking forward to attending the the prize giving ceremony at the Lambeth Palace Library on the evening of 16th March at which the BRA patron Lord Salisbury will present our certificates.

The full details of the 2022 award winner and the three runners-up are available from the British Records Association’s web site.

Lorna Lloyd and Bethany Ray

World War II diarist Lorna Lloyd and her great-great niece actor Bethany Ray, who plays her great-great aunt Lorna in the podcast series

The creative use of digitised archives: roundtable to be presented at the BBC at 100 Symposium

The BBC at 100 symposium, organised by Dr Marcus Collins, Reader in Contemporary History and AHRC BBC 100 Fellow at Loughborough University, takes place at the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford, and online, between 13th and 15th September 2022. A team from the Centre for Social Informatics (CSI), with a colleague from the BBC Archive, is delighted to be presenting at this event. Continue reading

Lorna Lloyd’s ‘Diary of the war’ podcast series launch event: review and resources

Bethany Ray plays Lorna Lloyd

Actor Bethany Ray, pictured here with the original  Diary of the war, plays her great-great aunt Lorna Lloyd in the podcast series

After several weeks of preparation, on Tuesday 24th May 2022 we launched the Diary of the war podcast series at Great Malvern Priory. This blog post provides a review of the launch. It also provides links to materials related to this event, and to the wider Platform to platform (P2P) project. (Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full list of resources.)

The content of the podcast series episodes centres on 25 year old Malvern resident Lorna Lloyd‘s chronicle of the first 16 months of World War II, complemented with contemporaneous news coverage related to the events and issues that she discusses in her writing. A further four ‘bonus’ episodes that comprise a selection of Lloyd’s poetry are included in the series. Continue reading

Richard Godden joins the Platform to platform team

Richard Godden

Richard Godden

Just ahead of its formal start date of 2nd February 2022, I am delighted to share the news that Richard Godden will be contributing to Phase 1 of our Platform to platform (P2P) project. Richard is to play the newsreader in the non-fiction narrative podcast series based on the World War II diary of Lorna Lloyd. His role will comprise recording contemporaneous print news coverage of the events that Lorna chronicles in her diary.

Richard’s interest in acting was first encouraged at school in Edinburgh. However, he considers his first ‘proper’ role ‘a frightened and half-naked Pict’ in a University of Manchester production, played when an undergraduate.  After he completed his studies in Continue reading

Introducing ‘Platform to platform: an investigation into audience engagement with digitised archives and its transformative impact across different online formats’

Lorna Lloyd and Bethany Ray

World War II diarist Lorna Lloyd (left) will be voiced by her great-great niece actor Bethany Ray (right) in a new podcast series, to be released in May 2022

A new project will be hosted by the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University from February until July 2022. Platform to platform: an investigation into audience engagement with digitised archives and its transformative impact across different online formats (P2P) was recently selected as one of the latest projects for support of the AHRC-funded Creative Informatics small research grants scheme. Continue reading