This year saw the development of the Queering the Archive initiative as part of our 70th Anniversary.
Join Elliot as he takes you through an exploration of the initiative as well as updates and upcoming plans.
Back in August, we held an online seminar and Q&A with Dr Hugh Hagan, Martine Robertson and Hannah Wood where they discussed their fieldwork and research into the lived experience of women in the shipbuilding community of Port Glasgow.
Dr Hugh Hagan, Head of Public Records Act Implementation at the National Records of Scotland, is passionate about the shipbuilding communities of Port Glasgow and Greenock on the lower reaches of the River Clyde, particularly in the inter-war period. These towns, being removed by some distance from the large and diverse economy of Glasgow, depended entirely on shipbuilding and they developed a very particular sense of community. This was the subject of his PhD research at the School of Scottish Studies in the 1990s and he drew from that research for the talk, specifically the role of women in these communities.
Martine Robertson and Hannah Wood, of GaelGal Productiions, were undertaking studies at the Department of Celtic and Scottish Studies, when they attended a lecture by Hugh about his Port Glasgow work. They were galvanised to revisit this fieldwork, recording new material with the family of Cassie Graham, one of Hugh’s contributors. They have also been inspired to take these stories to centre stage, lifting the voices and experience of women of the Port Glasgow community and using these recordings in their creative practice. At this event, they presented a post-card sized version of their creative project, What a Voice.
The event was well attended and we had some excellent questions for the panel. However, because our speakers were all connected with SSSA through their studies and fieldwork, we decided to arrange a further conversation for our blog, as part of our ongoing celebrations of our 70th Anniversary.
As Hannah, Hugh, Martine and myself are all alumni of The School of Scottish Studies, you can imagine that there was a lot of shared memory and a lot of enthusiasm for oral history – we talked for over an hour and so we have split this conversation into three parts to be more digestible. Included throughout these are extracts of the original fieldwork recordings and excerpts from Hannah and Martine’s work What a Voice.
A point to consider: This is a zoom recording, so we were at the mercy of connections. As such there are one or two frozen images and moments of patchy audio.
If you are a University of Edinburgh Ease-user, you can also view these on our Media Hopper Channel.
Memories of The School of Scottish Studies and studying at The University of Edinburgh
Creative use of Oral History Recordings and the future for OH in Scotland
It is always incredible to see how people interact and respond to oral history recordings in the archive.
As we discuss here, the experiences of women in Port Glasgow aren’t found in official statistics or in public records. Memories and lived experience can only be captured by talking to someone from that community, someone who experienced that life. It is an incredible privilege to have these recordings in the collection at SSSA and it is thrilling to see how archive material can be used creatively – opening up the lives and experience of Port Glasgow women to new audiences.
As we stand on the cusp of Scotland’s Year of Stories in 2022, whose are the voices and what are the stories that you want to hear or draw out of archives? Indeed, whose are the voices and stories you wish to put into the archives, with your own fieldwork or creative practice? Do you have a story to tell? We would love to hear from you. Contact us via email , or leave us a comment on this post.
Earlier this year, the School of Scottish Studies Archive and the Centre for Research Collections teamed up with renowned Scottish photographer, Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert, to add a landmark collection of photos to the School’s documentary collections. Sutton-Hibbert has worked as a freelance photographer and photojournalist for over 30 years and in 2012 co-founded Document Scotland – a collective of Scottish documentary photographers.
Photo 1 Tam Gay repairs torn nets aboard the Mairead, North Sea, February 1993 SSSA/JSH1/20
Sutton-Hibbert’s documentary work focusing on Scotland filled a natural gap in the Archive’s extensive photographic holdings, and the team worked with him to identify three series of photographs which would best suit the collection. Selections were made from his North Sea Fishing (1992-1995), the recently demolished Longannet Colliery (2001), and Paddy’s Market (2000) which echoed with coastal working life, Scottish industrial cultures, and urban living which can be found throughout the School’s archive.
Photo 2 Miners getting on the trolley train to the underground of Longannet Colliery, Fife, April 2001 SSSA/JSH3/3
The SSSA70 acquisition includes over 50 beautifully hand-made prints by Sutton-Hibbert and digital files of each of these images which can be viewed on our digital image database. Our teams have been busy behind the scenes to catalogue this collection and make the digital images available in our anniversary year.
“I have immensely enjoyed listing the 50 photographic prints acquired from Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert,” say Elliot Holmes, Archives & Library Assistant, School of Scottish Studies, “The collection has been listed in original order to three series, which includes the life aboard seine-netter boats within the North Sea Fishing prints, the historic Paddy’s Market in Glasgow, and depictions of the life of people working underground at Longannet Colliery. Each itemed photograph depicts such a dynamic portrayal of the social and working lives of Scottish people that you can clearly see and feel the emotion of each photographic subject through the prints. Being from a mining town in south Wales, I particularly enjoyed listing the images of Longannet Colliery as that is a history and way of life that I grew up with and will always feel a grand connection to. Each individual print is a valuable addition to our collection as they are such a clear portrayal of the dynamics of Scottish working life and people.”
In May of this year, Jeremy sat down with our Head of Special Collections, Daryl Green, to talk about his work and this new collection. As part of this acquisition, we’re very pleased to make this conversation available to all, too:
In Conversation with Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert
You can also see some of our photographic collections digitised online, including the Robert Atkinson collection of St. Kilda photographs here: St. Kilda
To stay in touch with the School of Scottish Studies Archive and Library, you can find us on Twitter at @EU_SSSA
Our information and contact details can be found here: School of Scottish Studies Archive