Asian Voices Oral History Project Archive

Scope and Content

Asian Voices resulted from a £50,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant awarded in 2008 for the University of Huddersfield to document the experiences of first generation South Asian settlers through a groundbreaking oral history project. West Yorkshire has the highest concentration of South Asian origin residents outside London with particularly large communities in Bradford, Kirklees and Calderdale. Many of the first settlers migrated over fifty years ago and their experience are largely overlooked in conventional historical records.

The Asian Voices project aimed to record oral testimonies of first generation settlers from South Asian communities across West Yorkshire in order to preserve their memories for current and future generations. The project consists of a collection of interviews which focus on two main themes: ‘migration and settlement’, and give an insight into issues such as work, worship and leisure. The research offers a window into the experience of settling into Britain and adjusting to life in a foreign environment and celebrates the role first generation South Asian settlers have played in helping to shape multi-cultural Britain.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Asian Voices Oral History Project, which ran between July 2008 and June 2010, was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and based at the Centre for Oral History Research (COHR) at the University of Huddersfield.

During the 1960s large numbers of people migrated from India and Pakistan (until the 1947 partition formerly British India) to a new life in Great Britain. West Yorkshire is home to the largest regional concentration of people of South Asian origins. In Kirklees (the local authority in which Huddersfield is located) the South Asian community comprises 11% of the population. The aim of the Asian Voices project was to collect the stories and experiences of Huddersfield's first generation of Asian migrants.

The oral history narratives of the Pakistani and Indian men and women who participated in this project consider various aspects of life in Huddersfield such as work, family, leisure and culture. They provide a vivid account of the challenges faced by first generation immigrants and the ways in which families integrated into their adopted county.

Access Information

Contains personal data - access form needs to be signed. Permission from interviewees has been cleared. Some records closed.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Digital formats .mp3, .wma, .doc, .jpg, .au

Conditions Governing Use

Copies can be supplied for private study purposes. Prior written permission must be obtained from the Archive for publication or reproduction of any material

Custodial History

Transferred to Archives by Robert Light Project Manager of the Up and Under Project and deposited by Nafhesa Ali, July 2010.

Related Material

Project Website:

Project Book: Nafhesa Ali, Asian Voices: first generation migrants, (Huddersfield, 2010)

National Moving Here project: Collected oral history interviews in 2006 which document migration history. Topics include journeys here, adaptation, work opportunities, housing, school, faith, festivals and some of the critical viewpoints surrounding identity from the perspective of different generations.

Coming to Coventry has recorded the experiences of South Asian migrants who came to Coventry from the 1940s to the 1960s. The focus of the work was an extensive programme of video interviewing and the collection of photographs and other personal memorabilia. In total more than 60 oral history interviews were carried out and more than 600 photographs collected.;jsessionid=bt3rDTLmlp0g