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Oral histories of researching
— community building workshop

Andrea Foffa, Sandra Bischler, Tai Cossich

Saturday, August 14
3.30–5pm (CEST/GMT+2)


Oral histories of researching is a community building workshop for everyone interested in design history: those who have spent long hours researching as well as anyone curious to learn more about this key aspect of a design historian’s practice.

Whether it takes place in a library, at home, or in an archive — on site, or online — researching is often personal and solitary. This workshop provides a space for participants to share this side of research with each other; compare notes on the ways in which we process information; tell the stories of navigating different institutional settings; speak about the situations in which things go wrong or, conversely, acknowledge the happy moments when everything goes right.

For those who are new to research, this might be a useful session to ask questions and hear about the nitty-gritty of visiting archives, planning a research trip, and gathering primary material. For those who are not new to research, this is the place to share quirky habits, recall unexpected events and ways of troubleshooting pesky problems, or simply take something off your chest. During the workshop, we will chat about these experiences in small groups. We aim for everyone to come out of this event with useful insights into research activity.

Participants are encouraged to spend a bit of time recalling their research experiences, or thinking of the questions they would like to ask, before coming to the workshop. Upon registration, everyone will be sent a link to a “researchers’ voicemail” — participants will be able to leave a message and start browsing through each other’s recordings prior to the workshop via a small audio-archive. Please feel free to leave a message in your preferred language.

Those attending the DHS 2021 Annual Conference might like to leave a message in response to the conference’s theme, Memory Full? Participants might ask themselves, for instance, how researchers’ lived experiences in archives are transformed into oral histories, and what aspects of research activity are our memories too full to recall? Those not attending the conference may want to explore similar themes or, perhaps, respond to other questions: What is research to you? What themes related to design history make you excited to keep learning? We wish to explore new ways — informal and earnest — of talking about research outside of the boundaries of academic-speak.

This event is free and open to everyone, those registered and those not registered for the DHS 2021 Annual Conference. For those attending the conference, this workshop could be a great space to warm up for the conference’s “digital floor” and to share aspects of your research that are not included in your paper. For those not attending the conference, you are still very welcome! It should be fun.

Book via Eventbrite︎︎︎

All activities are free and open to everyone (those registered and those not registered for the DHS 2021 Annual Conference), but participants must book via Eventbrite in advance.

On the days of the events, we will operate a Zoom’s waiting room. Please come a few minutes early, as each session has a limited number of places that will be filled on a first come, first served basis. We promise to do our best to squeeze everyone in though. 🙂

If the time of the event is not looking good for you, please register anyways: All registered participants will be given the option of participating asynchronously, by sending in contributions before the day of the event.




What is this about?      

This series of pre-conference events is an initiative of the Design History Society in conjunction with the DHS 2021 Annual Conference hosted virtually from Basel, Switzerland.

All activities are free and open to everyone (those registered and those not registered for the conference), but participants must book via Eventbrite in advance.
Organising committee      

Tai Cossich
Sandra Bischler

Oral histories of researching
Andrea Foffa

Dear penpal... meet and greet
Fleur Elkerton
Karen Fraser
Felicity Hall
Jennifer McHugh

Recording & Inventing

Anna Talley
Alex J Todd
Jennifer McHugh

With special thanks to...
Jenna Allsopp
Denise Lai
Artun Özgüner
Gael Welstead


Useful links      

Book via Eventbrite


DHS 2021 Annual Conference Memory Full?

Complete programme
Student-curated keynote speaker

Design History Society
Conference Bursary Application
Publishing Workshops


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