CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3620
TitleUniversity of Aberdeen Oral History Archive
Date1985 - current
Extent6 boxes of master tape cassettes, 5 boxes of copy tape cassettes and 10 boxes of printed transcripts. Also supplementary recordings (1 box of masters and 1 box of copies).
Creator NameAberdeen University Quincentenary Project Team
Administrative HistoryThe University of Aberdeen Oral History Archive was begun in 1985 as part of the Aberdeen University Quincentenary Project. Interviews with former students, staff and other individuals connected with the University were originally intended to aid historians working on monographs commemorating the University's Quincentenary, which was celebrated in 1995, but the considerable historical value of these first interviews has encouraged the University to extend the project beyond this date. The programme of interviews was organised by the then University Archivist, Colin McLaren, with assistance from the editors of the Quincentenary History Project, Dr Jennifer Carter and Professor John Hargreaves.
Custodial HistoryThe tapes were created under the auspices of the University Quincentenary History Project.
SourceThey were transferred to the care of Special Collections on 31 December 2000.
DescriptionThis archive currently comprises interviews with nearly 200 individuals connected with the University. The interviews contain personal information about each individual and reflect on the history, structure, constitution and development of the University. They provide unrivalled glimpses into the lives of those connected with the institution, from remarkably detailed memories of graduates of the 1920s and 30s describing landladies, digs and food, through to ex-Principals and Heads of Department recounting their first hand experiences of university government at the highest level.

The interviews bring unique personal perspectives to the impact on the University of two world wars, the rapid expansion of the 1960s, reductions in funding in the 1980s and events such as the Quincentenary in 1995, right up to the present. They detail changes in the social history of Aberdeen and the surrounding area, together with developments in, for example, medicine, psychology, education, law and music, set in a wider educational and social context. Anyone interested in individual personalities or the history of the University will find facts and anecdotes to add to the more formal records, statistics and other written works.

In addition to the oral interviews are written reminiscences sent in to the project team by former students and some supplementary recordings.

The University of Aberdeen cannot vouch for the factual accuracy of the interviews which are recorded and held as part of the Oral History Archive. The opinions which are expressed within each interview are the responsibility of the interviewee and do not represent the viewpoint of the University. If you have any concerns relating to an oral history interview please contact the University Archivist.
ArrangementMS 3620/1 - Interviews
MS 3620/2 - Written reminiscences
MS 3620/3 - Supplementary Recordings
Access StatusRestricted
Access ConditionsTranscripts of the interviews are available for consultation via the catalogue whilst the recordings themselves are available via the Reading Room

Some recordings are restricted: under a closure agreement with interviewees (up to a maximum of 30 years), where no deposit agreement exists and where an interview contains third party sensitive personal data. Please see individual records.
Physical DescriptionOriginal analogue recordings (catalogue references 1 - 196) were digitised in 2009 and born digital recordings (from references 197 onwards) started in 2009.
Publication NotePirie, Jane. University of Aberdeen Oral History Archive. Northern Scotland, Volume 21 (2001), pp.141-45.

The interviews have been used in a number of titles published by Aberdeen University Press in the Quincentennial Studies in the University of Aberdeen series.
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