Democracy and participation, Arts and cultural activities

Tell History Industrial Europe


Who is behind this?

Alex Whitcomb

Tell History Industrial Europe


Idea Sketch | Proposal


Idea pitch

Industrial zones across Europe contain countless histories that help define our identity. Heavily damaged during WWII, they face similar challenges in a globalised economy, witnessing major demographic shifts & downturns. We train citizen historians to collect memories of locals, building a radically democratic new history defined by the Europeans who lived it. We will offer an easy open source app, methodology & material so people can do this simply & for future oral history projects of Europe.

Where will your idea take place?

Ruhr, Germany; Merseyside, UK

Why does Europe need your idea?

Recording history traditionally was the privilege of a small elite, limiting the voices that shape European heritage. Many are unheard, countless memories forgotten. With nationalism once again on the rise, it’s more important than ever to record & share everyday Europeans’ histories, fostering mutual understanding and a common past. We’ll focus on Europe’s industrial communities, firstly in the Ruhr & in north UK as microcosms for shared experience, promoting greater intercultural dialogue.

What is your impact?

We aim to collect and disseminate compelling personal histories illustrating Europe’s interconnected, intercultural identity, specifically in the industrial area of the Ruhr. The goal is to preserve & share these testimonies; make unexpected connections between submissions, drawing attention to the common themes across borders and cultures; give voice to marginalised and neglected areas. We aim for a sustainable, scalable project, providing a lasting tool for everyone to share European stories.

How do you get there?

-Create an open source Tell History Europe app that: 1) can be used to upload oral histories recorded on a phone 2) has citizen historian user profiles and 3) displays recordings on a site.
-Identify and train up to 5 key citizen historians in key Ruhr cities and twinned industrial towns in the UK to collect histories in their communities.
-Elaborate 10 key questions for 10 societal roles (e.g. Foreman, engineer, mayor, teacher, doctor) to start the conversation and to have key comparison points.
-Create a micro-site under Tell History that celebrates European industrial community history using these histories.
-Promote the histories in the communities and use “citizen historians” as multipliers to gather additional memories in the UK, Germany, and beyond.

What is your story?


Who are you doing it for?

It is designed for a new generation of younger Europeans that are invested in building a digital legacy; use online tools for education and social change; and are concerned about Europe’s future. Our citizen historians are change makers and future leaders who know many answers to present challenges can be found exploring Europe’s past. We envisage each trained citizen historian to be a multiplier - with an element of “training the trainer” included in their initial onboarding.

What do you need from the Advocate Europe community?

We ask for any and all feedback from other applicants, as we want as many people thinking about how to Tell History as possible. We thank all commenters in advance for helping us build a bigger, better, and more democratic European history.


Tell History

Idea created on March 9, 2016
Last edit on April 26, 2016