Imperial War Museum’s Sound Archive

 In Research Tips

The Imperial War Museum in London has a remarkable sound archive which is open to the public (by appointment). The archive holds over 56,000 hours of recordings of personal accounts from the Boer War, the Great War, WW2 and more recent conflicts such as Korea, Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan.

As well as oral accounts of soldiers who were there, the archive holds a number of recordings of war reports and famous speeches – including many speeches of Sir Winston Churchill, British and German war propoganda and broadcasts from the Nuremburg trials.

The famous ‘Forgotton Voices’ series of documentaries and books have been compiled using a large amount of sound archive material, including the newest addition – Forgotten Voices of D-Day. I have just orderd my copy of this book, and cannot wait to read it!

The sound archive has an online catalogue which can be explored at using a keyword search (each recording has a summary of its content, so you could search by your ancestor’s regiment, squadron, ship, or a particular battle.

For appointments visit the website or email them at

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