SURSA oral history project

What the project is about…

Stirling has a precious opportunity denied to most other universities: a chance to create an oral history of the University right from its foundation.

Our aim is to create a collection of recordings from retired and former staff and also alumni that provides an informal history of the University in all its aspects: academic, social and environmental. The recordings are housed in the University Archives and will be made available to future researchers – as well as to those of us who just wish to remember how life was (or hear how other people viewed it). The collection will complement official written histories, as well as other Archive collections of University publications, films and photographs.

How it came about…

The idea arose in discussion between Angela Smith and Jim Valentine, who became founder members of the SURSA Oral History Group, along with Bill Inglis, John Stewart, and Gordon Willis. Christina Sommerville and I came on board more recently. Jim Valentine, who is experienced in oral history projects acts as mentor, and we work in close cooperation with Karl Magee, the University Archivist.

So far…

At this stage our emphasis is on ensuring we collect as wide a range of recordings as possible, particularly covering the first ten years. (That is not to say that recordings covering later years are not welcome, as well). We have not yet finalised how to present the collection, although we have a number of interesting options. At the least, all recordings will be ‘future-proofed’ as far as possible, catalogued, and made available to any visitor to the Archive on request. We are aware that it is not so long until the University’s Golden Jubilee (2017), and hope we may be able to create something special as part of the celebrations, using interactive web pages. So far some thirty recordings have been made, including the contributions of retired staff from various academic and service departments, one former Principal, a former MP who was a member of the Falkirk committee for the siting of the university, and a number of early graduates.

What you can do…

Do, please, contact one of the Group if you are willing to contribute to the project. You may wish to make a solo contribution, or combine with a few erstwhile colleagues, to make a small group recording. We are experimenting with recording Skype and phone conversations so that distance need not be a barrier, if we are unable to reach you otherwise. Some SURSA members have been heard to worry that anything they could contribute would not be of interest to anyone else. Please do not believe this! Your memories and insights will be different from those of others, and it is only through gathering a really wide range of contributions that we can hope to capture a detailed impression of Stirling life. If you wish to contribute to the project in other ways, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Perhaps you are interested in facilitating recordings (guidance provided), or helping to develop the web site? We need you now!

Carolyn Rowlinson
cagrowlinson@gmail.com

2 October 2014