Special Collections Centre



University of Aberdeen Oral History Archive

The Aberdeen University Oral History Archive is the only one of its kind in the United Kingdom. Begun in 1985 as part of the Aberdeen University Quincentenary Project, the interviews were originally intended to aid historians working on monographs commemorating the University's Quincentenary a decade later. Interviewing continues, however, and the archive now contains over 200 interviews with 170 individuals connected with the University. Transcripts of many of these are available through the archival catalogue.

Interviewees come from a wide cross-section of University people, but form three basic groups:

  • past students
  • long serving members of staff
  • eminent individuals connected with the University (Principals, senior professors, writers etc.)

Image: Sir Edward Wright Listen to extract of the interview with Sir Edward Wright

Image: Mrs Flora Garry Listen to extract of the interview with Mrs Flora Garry
Image: Dr Stella Henriques Listen to extract of the interview with Dr Stella Henriques
Image: Emeritus Professor R.V.Jones Listen to extract of the interview with Emeritus Professor R. V. Jones

The interviews are important testaments. They contain not only personal information about each individual but reflect on the history, structure, constitution and development of the University. There are 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. Few would have recorded their memories but for this project.

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 They are invaluable historical documents, detailing changes in the social history of Aberdeen and the surrounding area, together with developments in, for example, medicine, psychology, education, law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. The Oral History interviews are living records which give a matchless view of the University community.

Transcripts of the interviews are available for consultation via the catalogue whilst the recordings themselves are available via the Reading Room. Some participants have specified access requirements or restrictions to their own interviews. Please refer to individual recordings.

Please contact the Reading Room for further details:
Tel: +44 (0)1224 272598
e-mail: speclib@abdn.ac.uk

Special Collections Centre · University Library · Bedford Road · Aberdeen · AB24 3AA · Tel: +44(0)1224 272598 · Email: speclib@abdn.ac.uk