An Introduction to the Project Digital Archive

Besides this website, one of the major aims of this research project has been to create a digital archive of materials useful for research and teaching on childhood, education, and youth in modern Japan, focusing on the period from 1925 to 1945. The archive takes advantage of the opportunities offered by technological advances in digitization and the Internet. It is part of the University of Manchester Library.

The archive has two main parts: a collection of recordings of oral history interviews with Japanese people who experienced childhood, education and (sometimes) youth in Japan before 1945, and a collection of digitized documents (such as diaries, magazines, pictures, photographs, and letters) produced by or illustrating the lives of children and young people in Japan during this period.

As of early 2016, there are recordings of oral history interviews with approximately 100 interviewees, conducted between 2011 and 2015. Most were interviewed twice. A summary of each interview is provided in both Japanese and English, and in some cases, transcripts of short sections of the interview are also provided. Currently, only a sample number of interviews is provided, as the digital repository of the University of Manchester Library is currently undergoing a major systemic upgrade. Once the upgrade is completed, expected to be later in 2016, all interviews will be made available. Some of the recordings will be accessible without any password, while others will be password protected, according to the wishes of the interviewees. Further details about how to access password protected recordings will be available at the relevant web page of the University of Manchester Library.

The digital archive can be accessed at the following webpage of the University of Manchester Library: https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/jrul/search/?search=%22Oral%20History%20Archive%20of%20Childhood%2C%20Education%2C%20and%20Youth%20in%20Pre-1945%20Japan%22

When this project was originally conceived, it was with the idea of arranging preservation of and access to interview recordings with an existing oral history archive in Japan (similar to the British Library Sound Archive). However, it was discovered that no such oral history archive currently exists. Moreover, the British Library Sound Archive only preserves UK oral history recordings, because of limited resources. Fortunately, the Internet makes it possible for an oral history archive to be accessed worldwide, regardless of location. We would be very happy to consider collaborating with other researchers to incorporate further oral history interviews into this archive, subject to appropriate arrangements about permissions, and about funding of the work required of the University of Manchester Library staff. As the number of people who experienced the years before 1945 will inevitably decrease, we believe that this research is urgent.

Similarly, we hope to be able to incorporate further digitized documentary materials valuable for research and teaching on this field into this archive, and would be happy to consider collaboration with other researchers to enable this. As with oral history recordings, appropriate arrangements for permissions and funding would be needed. There remain many rich collections of documentary materials that could potentially be archived.