Alison Slater
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Listening to dress
Unfolding oral history methods
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Martin Ball (2005) uses the textile metaphors of pleats and folds to explain the writing of history, where historians choose which points to bring together, what to conceal and what to reveal. This chapter applies these ideas to stories of clothes told from the perspective of memory. It uses oral testimonies from women who lived in the North West of England during the Second World War to unpack – or unfold – what their clothing memories say about their lives at that time. Listening to how these narratives are told, what is said and what is left unspoken demonstrates how our clothing practices are interwoven into our everyday lives, our sense of self and our sense of belonging to a wider groups of people, both at the time when garments were worn and at the time they are remembered. The chapter also provides practical advice for other researchers through its analysis.

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