Oral history in Scotland in 2020

by Dr Alison Chand, Scottish Oral History Centre, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow 

This year I have dealt with the following queries:

January 2020 – Sian Loftus

Contacted me on behalf of Aberdeen City Heritage Trust – Sian was looking to tender for a consultant for a project involving recording memories of the granite industry in Aberdeen and wanted advice on recording equipment. 

January 2020 – Catherine Stratford

2021 will be the 150th anniversary of the founding of George Watson’s Ladies College in George Square, Edinburgh. The school amalgamated with George Watson’s Boys College in 1974. Catherine is involved in planning a number of projects to mark the event. She would like to create an oral history of the memories of the women who attended George Square. The History Club at the current school, aged between 12 and 15 years old, would be undertaking the interviews. Whilst Catherine can introduce the pupils to the history of the Ladies College and the context of these women’s lives, growing up in the 1930s–1970s, she was looking for some advice and training as to how to undertake a successful oral history project. I advised her on some suitable training courses. 

March 2020 – Lucy Sewell

Lucy was looking for WWII veterans to share their memories of VE Day in Scotland for its 75thanniversary. I advised her to contact Glasgow Museums and have a look at the 2000 Glasgow Lives Project, and to contact Mary Stewart at the British Library for information on the British Library oral history collections. 

August 2020 – Karen Oakley

Karen is working on a project involving recording people’s stories of Gaelic songs and music, particularly around Ardnamurchan, with a plan to interview in Gaelic. She sent an email with a question about whether it’s acceptable to approach interviewees rather than wait for them to reply to adverts – I replied that yes, this is okay. 

In my own work this year, I have been awarded a British Academy/Leverhulme small research grant to continue interviewing that I have been doing throughout the year for a project entitled ‘Rainbows in the Windows: An Oral History of Young Families in Britain during the Covid-19 Pandemic’. I have completed around 80 remote oral history interviews so far this year. 

In addition to this, I have carried out some interviews for the NHS at 70 project, and have continued my oral history teaching and training work with the Scottish Oral History Centre at the University of Strathclyde, the University of the Highlands and Islands and the British Library/Oral History Society.

October 2020 – Alli Beddoes 

Alli was looking for input into a funding bid for the Lighthouse Brighton on oral history collections in Scotland that might be relevant to a project she is putting together for Festival UK 2022. 

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