Voices: The Community Story

To celebrate the Scottish Government’s initiative, Scotland’s Year of Stories: 2022, Scottish Council on Archives are creating a national focused project, Voices: The Community Story. Bringing together the stories of people living in all regions of Scotland, it will be an opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people and form future partnerships as well as bring together qualified archivists, heritage professionals and community groups, often volunteers. We will provide practical training, guidance on best archival practice, including digital preservation as well as the opportunity to network and form new partnerships.

The project will provide an introduction to archives for many people who have not engaged or been aware of this part of the heritage sector. We set ourselves the challenging goals set out in The National Archives’ Archives for Everyone strategy: to build trust, tear down barriers and be bold. In 2021, a survey was sent to members of the Association of Scottish Local Authority Archives Working Group and the response was incredibly positive and a common desire soon emerged to capture the stories of people who had come from somewhere else and were now living in their area or region. As a result of the survey, the theme of our project is Migration. We welcome the stories of New Scots, second or third generation or people already living in the UK who have decided to relocate to Scotland. It was important to reach out and attract all people to be part of Scotland’s Community Archive and hear the voices of people from a variety of backgrounds and from harder to reach communities.

In preparation for Voices: The Community Story, SCA managed a pilot project in 2021, Voices: The Hebridean Story involving a Robertson Trust Summer Intern over a 6-week period. The aim of this oral history project was to interview, publish and archive a snapshot of the unique stories and experiences of people living in the Scottish Hebrides during the Covid-19 pandemic. Find out more here: Voices: The Hebridean Story.

The project will end in 2022, and an evaluation report will be provided to all stakeholders which will include a guide to Next Steps, as you will have the knowledge and skills to continue recording your communities’ stories. To recognise the end of the project it is intended to host a networking event, a one-day conference or series of workshops. This will be held at New Register House on the 30th of November.

For enquiries email: a.wilson@scottisharchives.org.uk

Chris Afuakwah

Storyteller, Scottish Refugee Council

Chris is a writer and activist working as Storytelling Officer at Scottish Refugee Council. In this role he works to challenge the mainstream narrative around refugee issues, supports new Scots to share their stories, and connects communities and individuals with various projects including Voices: the Community Story! Chris has worked for Scottish Refugee Council since November 2018, and before this spent 15 months volunteering in Calais raising awareness of the situation at the French/UK Border.

Scottish Refugee Council is Scotland’s national refugee charity, dedicated to supporting people in need of refugee protection. We are here for people at a difficult time in their lives, we speak out against an unjust asylum system and campaign for policy change.

Mark Mulhern

Senior Research Fellow, European Ethnological Research Centre (EERC), University of Edinburgh

After a career in biology, Mark studied history as a mature student at undergraduate and postgraduate level, at the University of Edinburgh. Since 2004 Mark has worked at the EERC. He worked as an editor on the 14 volume series Scottish Life and Society: A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology and the Flashbacks series. Mark now leads the ‘Spoken Word’ strand of the Regional Ethnology of Scotland Project (RESP). In this role Mark is responsible for volunteer fieldworker recruitment, training and support and for ensuring that the materials created are made available as openly and usefully as possible. Mark is active in collaborating with individuals and groups in conduct of the RESP to enable the creation and retention of information about life and society in communities across Scotland.

Charlie McCann

Sound Curator, Scotland Sounds, National Library of Scotland

Charlie McCann is a Sound Collections Curator at the National Library of Scotland, having taken up the post in January this year. He has experience of working with audio-visual collections at the BBC, working in various newsrooms and archives since 2006. He has experience in cataloguing, project management, digitisation, technology development and inclusion initiatives.

Saqib Razzaq

Project Officer – Colourful Heritage

Dr. Saqib Razzaq is the Project Officer/Head of Research for Colourful Heritage (CH). This project started in 2010 as an informal conversation amongst friends on the importance of preserving the South Asian and Muslim Heritage in Scotland. The aims of the project are to capture and to celebrate the contributions of early South Asian and Muslim communities that came to Scotland more than half a century ago and to inspire all parts of Scottish society and beyond with their positive contributions.

Colourful Heritage has been actively documenting a collection of inspirational stories and personal accounts told by the participants themselves, to create a highly unique and fascinating online video archive as well as other resources (e.g. Schools pack, Explore Heritage). This growing archive of over 125 short videos is the largest of its kind in Scotland and is easily accessible on our website. It provides first-hand accounts of the personal journeys and emotions of the earliest generation, highlighting the inspiring lessons we can learn from them.

Audrey Wilson

Partnerships and Engagement Manager, SCA

Audrey is the Partnerships and Engagement Manager at the Scottish Council on Archives. Following the successful delivery of the NHLF funded Skills for the Future project, Opening Up Scotland’s Archive, Audrey built on the project’s legacy, widening participation and engagement, working closely with community archives and local history groups, to encourage their sustainability and development. The Partnerships and Engagement Manager is responsible for the management and delivery of SCA’s outreach and engagement programme, including the co-ordination of a programme of activity focussing on community archives, volunteering and non-professional audiences.

Seonaid McDonald

Archivist, Tasglann nan Eilean

Seonaid is the Archivist at Tasglann nan Eilean, the archive service of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar – the local authority which serves the Outer Hebrides. As well as running the public archive service, part of her role involves offering advice and support to the network of thirty comainn eachdraidh (local historical societies) and community heritage organisations throughout the islands in regard to caring for their archives.


Webinar Series

As part of our Voices project, we are releasing a series of webinars to help you with your oral history project. Topics covered will include interviewing techniques, technical tutorials and oral history training. The series will be published over the duration of the project, so check back regularly for new episodes!

Webinar 1 – Interviewing Techniques

Welcome to our first webinar episode! Click the video below to find out about the interviewing techniques that will help you feel more confident and prepared going into your oral history interviews.

Webinar 2 – Oral History Interviewing Online

Our second webinar episode is brought to you by Conor Walker from Scotlands Sounds, National Library of Scotland. Conor talks about how to record your oral history interviews using Zoom as your online platform – this is great for those of you planning on conducting remote interviews!

Webinar 3 – Interviewing People with Lived Experience of Seeking Safety in Scotland

Watch this space!

Oral History Projects

Check out these projects to get an idea of the different kinds of topics and themes being recorded throughout the UK.

Our Story Scotland

Our Story Scotland is a registered charity and and collects, archives and presents the life stories of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community in Scotland which involved oral history work with people of all ages. In addition to collection stories, images, artefacts and research materials from GBT lives they also present their heritage through the arts, using exhibitions, storytelling and drama. Please find more information here.

Refugee Stories Project: The Immigration and Resettlement of Germans in Western Canada, 1947-1960

This project aimed to document the memories and experiences of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and Germany who immigrated to Western Canada following the Second World War. Find out more here.

Voices of Dundee: Oral History Project

This project has recorded almost 100 stories of people who have lived and worked in Dundee, with common themes being of family life, community, work and leisure throughout the recordings. The project celebrated these recorded stories through a number of evenings which seen clips of the recordings combined with stories, music and poetry. The three evenings were: ‘Talking Textiles”, “Musical roots” and Talking Shop”. To find out more please visit their webpage here.

British Library Oral History Projects

There are a number of projects and archived material accessible to the public on the British Library website. Whilst some are highlighted below this list is by no means exhaustive and further projects can be found on their website here. 

The Listening Project: The Listening Project is an audio archive of conversations recorded by the BBC. People are invited to share an intimate conversation with a close friend or relative, to be recorded and broadcast (in edited form) by the BBC and curated and archived in full by the British Library. These one-to-one conversations, lasting up to an hour and taking a topic of the speakers’ choice, collectively form a picture of our lives and relationships today. There are a number of recordings which deal with the theme of migration among others such as Politics, Community, Family, History and many more. To explore these recordings please see here. 

The Vietnamese Oral History Project: The collection includes first-hand testimonies of some 110 refugees, their children and refugee support workers who were interviewed between 2000-2003 as part of the Vietnamese Oral History Project run by Refugee Action and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the British Library, Museum of London and the Panos Institute. The project aimed to bridge the gap between three generations of the Vietnamese community and to help them share their experiences with the UK public. Topics covered include interviewees’ early lives and family circumstances in Vietnam, education and careers, their reasons for leaving, their journeys from Vietnam, life in refugee or transit camps, establishing new lives in the UK, feelings about being refugees, and hopes for the future. The project was sponsored by Refugee Action. For more information please see here.

Moroccan Memories In Britain; This is a project which was carried out by the Migrant Community Refugee Forum (MRCF) in 2007-2008 and explores the experience of three generations of Moroccan residents inLondon, Crawley, St. Albans, Trowbridge and Edinburgh who migrated to Britain and grew up in the British Moroccan community. For more information please see here. 

The Chinese in Britain Radio Interviews: This contains a collection of the uncut interviews from a radio series produced by Culture Wise for Radio 4 in 2007, which explored the lives of the Chinese that came to Britain before the 1960s and also interviewed second-generation British-born Chinese. For more information please see here. 

Narratives of Exile and Return: This is a collection of interviews across three generations of Barbadian families, carried out by Mary Chamberlain between 1992 and 1994 for the Barbados Migration Project. Chamberlian’s book Narratives of Exile and Returndrew heavily on the interviews. For more information please see here.

The Oral History Society

The Oral History Society has been supporting Oral History for half a century and in that time they have become a centre of knowledge and advice for oral historians. They promote the collection, preservation and use of recorded memories and their involvement within oral history has been widely appreciated and respected. The Society offers a wealth of knowledge to both movie beginners to seasoned professionals and the resources avail on their website are invaluable to the oral history community. Please find their website here.

Oral History Training with Sarah Lowry, Oral History Society

Sarah Lowry, OHS trainer

For our project Voices: The Community Story it is vital that we make Oral History as accessible as possible, ensuring that the skills and confidence needed to conduct oral history are offered to a wide range of our project stakeholders. We have partnered with the Oral History Society and trained oral historian Sarah Lowry who is running training sessions for a number of our stakeholders. These training sessions, split over two half days offer people the in-depth understanding of what Oral History is and its vital importance to society as well as the fundamental steps in conducting an oral history project. The stakeholders who complete this training will receive a certificate supported by the Oral History Society and The Scottish Council on Archives confirming their participation and can be used for Continual Professional Development. To supplement this learning and in attempt to widen the accessibility of Oral History the Scottish Council on Archives has partnered with Scotland’s Sound, National Library of Scotland to make an Oral History webinar series available and publicly accessible for all. These webinars will be located on this webpage and will cover areas from interviewing techniques to technical processes involved in oral history i.e using an audio recorder, editing software and file labelling.

Saber Came to Tea

6-7 August 10:30 Venue 82 – ZOO Southside – Main House Saber Came to Tea is an entertaining short play with original music and magic that tells the story of one young woman’s defiant stand against the constraining social norms of her family. A young Yemeni couple risk their family …

Scottish International Storytelling Festival

The Scottish International Storytelling Festival, which runs from 14 – 30 October 2022, invites you to explore Scotland’s Stories. Stories and songs are vital for human survival. They carry our emotions, memories and values. They bind us together as families, communities and a nation, especially through tough times. Find out …

Scottish Storytelling Centre

The Scottish Storytelling Centre – for a whole host of events taking place this summer see their website here.

Personal Narratives in Storytelling Workshop

Personal Narratives in Storytelling Summer Workshop with Daniel Sterridge Personal narrative stories are growing ever popular but how do you shape and share your story in a safe and empowering way? Explore storytelling in contemporary contexts with Daniel Serridge as he guides you through bringing your personal story to life. Workshop £10.00 …

Fringe Events

Will you be in Edinburgh this August? Are you interested in seeing some amazing performances, exhibition and workshops all dedicated to storytelling and the spoken word? Find out more below… Scottish Storytelling Centre Fringe Program. Includes a wide variety of performances from exploring Scottish myths and legends to a timely oral …