Over the course of my career since leaving higher education I have worked for several heritage projects with a focus on the oral traditions of Scotland; ranging from cataloguing audio archives of folk histories, songs and tales dating to the 1930s, to fieldwork collecting songs in the Western Isles, and gathering stories of emigration from Russians with Scottish roots to be shared in an interactive online archive. These experiencesof collecting, cataloguing and making material available to current and future generations have inspired me to learn more about methods of celebrating heritage and about the fundamental importance of maintaining archives of such material.
When I initially heard about the Skills for the Future traineeships I felt that they offered an incredible opportunity both to consolidate my previous experience and to gain professional experience of the archive sector. I was thrilled to be awarded a traineeship in Digital Preservation and Education and Outreach, held jointly between Historic Environment Scotland (HES) (formerly RCAHMS) and Midlothian Council Archive.
In the first half of my traineeship at HES, my goal is to understand the theory and methodologies of digital preservation and to deliver projects for Digital Collections which make practical use of this knowledge. In the second half at Midlothian Council, my focus will switch to community engagement, involving outreach work with schools to develop new learning materials based on archival holdings.
The training opportunities which are available throughout the year, ranging from attending workshops and courses to undertaking a Centre for Archive & Information Studies module from the University of Dundee, will count towards building a professional portfolio of qualifications and experience. Ultimately, my goal is to use the skills that I will develop during the year ahead to provide a foundation on which to build a career within the archive sector.
About Historic Environment Scotland
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is the new lead public body for Scotland's heritage. It brings together Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland and takes up its full statutory role from 1st October 2015, building on the strengths and expertise of both bodies.
HES will deliver real public benefit for Scotland ensuring people can continue to understand, value and enjoy the historic environment, now and in years to come. It will also play a key role in helping deliver Scotland’s first strategy for the Historic Environment, Our Place in Time.
The objectives of HES are to investigate, care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment. As well as caring for over 330 properties, HES is also responsible for access to and preservation of the archaeological, architectural, industrial, maritime and aerial archives previously curated by RCAHMS. From traditional photographic and drawings archives through to the latest digital media, the collection illustrates and documents the archaeological sites, monuments, buildings and historic landscapes of Scotland from the earliest times to the present day.
We have been actively generating and collecting digital archives since the late 1990s and are currently introducing new digital preservation software to ensure the long term preservation and accessibility of the HES archives for the future.
About Midlothian Archives
Midlothian Council Archives manages and provides access to the corporate archives of Midlothian Council and its predecessor authorities, including four burgh councils of Midlothian (Bonnyrigg and Lasswade, Dalkeith, Loanhead and Penicuik). The collection also includes a wide range of material from local businesses, schools, churches, clubs and societies, and private individuals. The collection is an invaluable resource for local and family history. It spans from the seventeenth century to the present and covers all aspects of the history and culture of Midlothian.
Midlothian Archives consists of a small but busy team. Their principal aim is to encourage greater use and awareness of the collection and to make it accessible to users of different abilities, including academics, schoolchildren and retired people.
Recent projects have included an online Roll of Honour of Midlothian casualties of the First World War and an activity pack for primary schools using census data to reconstruct a local high street. Staff are also creating online catalogues and finding aids as well as supporting the activities of local history societies.