CollectionGB 0231 University of Aberdeen, Special Collections
Ref NoMS 3769
Title'Lives in the Oil Industry' Oral History Archive
Date1918 - 2006
Extent14 linear metres
Administrative History'Lives in the Oil Industry' is a collaboration between the British Library's National Life Story Collection and the University of Aberdeen. The oral history project aimed to collect and preserve the experiences of those who had first-hand experience of the North Sea Oil and Gas industry in the twentieth century. Interviews were conducted with people employed in virtually every aspect of the oil and gas industry, and some of the close family members of the workers. While those interviewed were, for the most part, involved in the North Sea oil and gas industry in some capacity, the programme also included people whose lives or work had, in other ways, been affected by the industry. The objective was to document the personal perspective of one of the United Kingdom's most important industries, its impact on the United Kingdom and the affect on the lives of those connected to it.

Interviews were recorded in many parts of the UK, with an emphasis on centres such as Aberdeen, the ‘Oil Capital of Europe’ and the Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft area, centres of the industry before it moved north in the 1970s. Other prominent locations in the recording programme were Shetland and Orkney, hosts to the great Sullom Voe and Flotta oil and gas terminals. Other areas were also covered. People interviewed for the project were tracked down in many parts of the UK and in the United States. Americans have played such a significant role in the history of the North Sea oil and gas industry, particularly in the early developing years, that their perspective was essential to the understanding of the history.

The occupations of the interviewees and the sectors in which they work include:

Administration, Airports, Asset management, Banking, Brent Spar, Business development, Business travel, Catering, Chaplaincy, Chemical laboratories, Construction, Construction camps, Contract market, Contracting, Drilling, Eakring, Early pre-North Sea industry history, Engineering, Equipment supply, Exploration, French personnel, Gas companies/organisations, Geology, Health and Safety, Hook-up, Human relations, Joint ventures, Law, Local authorities, Lowestoft personnel, North East Scotland Development Authority (NESDA), Norwegian perspective, Offshore Supplies Office (OSO), Oil companies, Oil industry artist, Oil industry clothing, Oil pollution control, Oil wives and children, Oil/gas industry information systems, Oil/gas industry trades, Orkney, Petroleum engineering, Police/Security, Post Office, Shetland, Supply vessels, Tankers, Tankships, Unions/Offshore Industry Liaison Committee (OILC), US personnel, Well services and Wire manufacture.

The 173 main interviews (189 people interviewed) total over 700 hours of recordings. Interviews were held in the United Kingdom and United States.

Hugo Manson, the project's manager, pioneered oral history at the National Library in New Zealand before coming to Aberdeen.

Further information available at:
Custodial HistoryRetained by Terry Brotherstone (Project Director) and Hugo Manson (Project Manager) until transferred to Special Libraries and Archives.
SourceTransferred from the Project Manager to Special Libraries & Archives September 2006 and after digitisation made publically available in early 2008.
DescriptionComprises the recordings, interviewee files including biographies, interview summaries, project-related records such as reports, publicity documents and correspondence; various oil industry publications such as brochures and pamphlets.

The interviews for the project are in the form of life histories. Information is collected about the early life of each interviewee in order to provide a personal context for the main area of the interview which focuses on the oil and gas industry. Typically, each interview is of between three and five hours in length and chronological in form.
AppraisalPublished reference material collected as part of the project has been transferred to the University library, except some local material which has been transferred to the Local Collection at Special Libraries & Archives. Other materials such as those items that were donated, that are of an archival nature or are detailed research reports have been maintained in this collection (see section 5). Items relating to TOTAL (corporate publicity) have been added to the Total FRIGG archive (MS 3801) and items relating to OILC have been added to their papers.
ArrangementInterview Recordings
Interviewee Files
Project related documentation
Associated interviews (not catalogued at present)
Donated and reference materials
Access StatusRestricted
Access ConditionsSummaries 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 Description174 cassette tapes and the Marantz CP430 tape recorder. The tapes were digitised in 2008.
OriginalsCopies of the recordings are also held in the Sound Archive of the British Library.
Publication NoteNorthern Scotland, Volume 27 (2007).
Related RecordMS 4021
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