Scottish Oral History Project Looks Ahead With Lottery Funding

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 24 July 2008
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photograph of three children dressed up in military equipment

A key feature of Their Past Your Future is the involvement of young people. © Frank Proctor

The continuation of Their Past Your Future, Museums Galleries Scotland’s oral history project that spans the country and the generations, has been guaranteed following the announcement today of £590,000 Big Lottery Funding.

This second phase of the project will, like Phase I, focus on World War II but will also look at subsequent conflicts. The final outcome of the collaborations between young people and the older generations will be the building of ‘mini-exhibitions’.

These will include not only the accounts of people, but contextual items such as local newspaper reports, photographs, films, documents, paintings and images of objects.

Phase II of the project recognises, like the first phase, that the memories of those who served and experienced past conflicts are an incredible resource.

Scotland’s Culture Minister, Linda Fabiani, said: “Older people have a mine of information, stories and experience to impart and it’s therefore heartening to know that some of it is being captured through projects such as this for the benefit and education of younger citizens and the wider community.”

photograph of veteran soldiers marching through a town

Veterans hold key information to educate and enlighten everyone. Veterans of The Black Watch march through Perth. © Frank Proctor

The project also acknowledges that many of these memories would have been lost had the project not continued. CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland, Joanne Orr, said: “People are now acutely aware of the importance and urgency to continue to gather this information now while the opportunity remains.”

Phase II of Their Past Your Future will be based around 15 museums and galleries, ten of which were also announced today at the launch event at the Gordon Highlanders Museum, Aberdeen. These museums include The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, Glasgow, whose part of the project will be The Glasgow West War Story, and Museum nan Eilean on the Isle of Lewis, who will explore Lewis At War.

Military museums also figure strongly in the list. The Museum of the Black Watch in Perth will focus on a significant aspect of military involvement in war through the themes of Post-War Conflicts and Peace-Keeping Missions.

Other themes being covered by the partner museums include Letters Home; The Sea, Wrecks and Beachcombing; and Women in the Shipyards.

photograph of two men in historical military uniforms

The past informs the future. 42nd Regiment re-enactors at Balhousie Castle. © Frank Proctor

The work to produce the histories and stories will involve disparate groups of people coming together. For instance, members of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders will be working with young people doing Duke of Edinburgh Awards as well as youngsters being helped by the Tullochan Trust who work with people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Linda Fabiani acknowledged the importance of this collaboration between generations and communities in making the project a success: “Phase II of Their Past Your Future will again see young people and older folk working together in communities across Scotland to deliver a body of work which will be thought provoking as well as entertaining.”

By 2010, the material gathered through the project will be available online as a school resource via the new Scottish School’s Intranet – Glow. The project outcomes will also be accessible on the web to the wider community.

Linda Fabiani acknowledged the importance of the results being available as a resource for the future: “With museums and galleries across Scotland set to showcase work from Their Past Your Future, I am really looking forward to the project’s ongoing success and securing its abiding and hugely important legacy.”

Phase I of the project marked the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. It reached 76,000 people in Scotland, causing 57% of those to change their attitudes or values about war as a result of their involvement. Another outcome related to how the project was organised - a third of those involved said that, following their participation, they felt differently about others - both young and old - in their communities.