King’s College Archives Cataloguing Project
This one year cataloguing project will arrange and make available online the catalogues of the King’s College Archive, opening up this rich but underused research resource. This unique and significant resource is not just of importance to Aberdeen but to Scotland and to the global research community. The project has been made possible by financial assistance from the Friends of Aberdeen University Library.

Founded by Bishop Elphinstone under a papal bull issued by Alexander the VI in 1495, King’s College was the first university in the North-East of Scotland. King’s College trained teachers, ministers, doctors, lawyers, politicians and philosophers, many of whom went on to have distinguished careers in their respective disciplines. The collection contains detailed resources on the foundation of the college, the evolution of the college’s curriculum, teaching methods, staff and students, financial papers (which range from staff salaries to routine accounts), legal disputes, the administration of the college, its properties and buildings, its land ownership and the college’s relationships with other institutions, particularly Marischal College and Aberdeen City.

To keep up to date with the project progress see updates and features, which will be regularly added to the department’s blog.

Capturing the Energy
The aim of the Capturing the Energy project is to promote wider recognition of the technical and cultural importance of the offshore oil and gas industry and encourage retention of significant records for research and education.

The University of Aberdeen is the hub of the network supporting this programme. Partners include:

  • Aberdeen City Council
  • BP
  • Business Archive Council (Scotland)
  • Department of Energy and Climate Change
  • Norwegian Petroleum Museum
  • Norwegian State Archives
  • Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
  • Scottish Enterprise Grampian
  • Shell
  • United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association
  • University of Aberdeen

Special Collections has established an Oil & Gas Archive to hold records collected as part of the 'Capturing the Energy' programme. There is a growing collection of industry-related archive material spanning forty years. All areas will be represented in holdings, including major companies, the supply chain and smaller, personal collections. The University acts as a physical repository for deposited material, but also as a virtual hub for information and resources relating to the industry held elsewhere.

The first project was recording the UK part of the Frigg system, tying in with similar work at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum in Stavanger. The project documented 30 years' of innovation and activity, creating an important, comprehensive and unique resource accessible to the public. A wide variety of material has been collected, including engineering drawings, technical manuals, operational records, company journals, photographs, and film and video footage. A selection is also available online. Personal memorabilia and interviews with people who worked in the industry captured the personal side, see here.

Image: portrait of Duncan LiddelThe Liddel Library
Duncan Liddel was born in Aberdeen in 1561. At the age of eighteen, he left Aberdeen for Danzig and for the next twenty eight years, studied and taught at Breslau (now Wroclaw), Frankfurt on Oder and Rostock finally settling in new university Helmstedt where he taught mathematics and medicine. In 1607 he returned to Aberdeen and on his death in 1613 left a series of endownments to the fledgling university of Marischal College, including his library which was the first and founding donation... more

Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health archive
With the Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health merging with the University of Aberdeen in 2008, the archives of the Institute back to its foundation in 1913 have been deposited with Special Collections. This is a major institutional archive and a tremendous addition to the University’s historic collections highlighting the importance of human and animal nutrition in Scotland. The archives are also important to the current Institute, in establishing its long and proud history. In many the ways the merger represents a return to its roots for the Institute. Lord Boyd Orr, the founding Director of the Institute, started work in the basement of Marischal College, when he arrived in Aberdeen in 1913 to take up his post. Boyd Orr was one of the United Kingdom’s undisputed visionaries and foremost voices about food and health policy and many of his papers and effects are part of the Institute’s archives. Also part of the archives are the papers produced by the Carnegie Dietary Survey which provided the basis and framework for rationing based upon nutritional need during the second world war.

The catalogue of the Institution’s papers is currently being added to our archive catalogue and re-housing tasks are being undertaken. The Institute celebrates its centenary in 2013 and the papers will be utilised as part of these celebrations.

Andrew MacGregor
Deputy Archivist
01224 272972

George Washington Wilson & Co. archive
The George Washington Wilson and Co. photographic collection consists of over 37,000 glass plate negatives. An ongoing project is the creation of enhanced descriptions of the photographs. A cataloguer was appointed in 2006 on a year-long project and another cataloguer continued the task again in 2010 – 2011. The latest work has also been to improve the catalogues of other related collections including papers relating to the University’s administration of the collection, the research papers of Wilson’s biographer Roger Taylor and a collection of the company’s commercial products.

For more information see the on-line collection page here.

Andrew MacGregor
Deputy Archivist
+44 (0)1224 272972

The Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society
A project to catalogue the papers of the Aberdeen Medico-Chirurgical Society was undertaken as a result of a ‘Research Resources in Medical History’ award granted by the Wellcome Trust. The project allows the Society’s rich and unique collection of papers to be accessed online for the first time via the University’s archive database, revealing the Society’s contribution to the provision of medical training, the championing of radical public health measures and the establishment of hospitals and their services within the local community. In addition to the catalogue being made available on-line, the complete papers of Sir James McGrigor are also available digitally to consult... more

Research Resources in Medical History
Special Collections received funding from the Wellcome Trust’s ‘Research Resources in Medical History’ scheme to catalogue our extensive early medical records, which date from the 15th to 19th centuries. Cataloguing of more than 100 collections was completed by early 2009.Throughout this period Aberdeen was unique in having two universities awarding degrees in medicine: King College, established in 1495 and Marischal College founded in 1593. Both institutions maintained close links with other early European universities, a fact reflected in the volume and geographic span of many of the collections, making them a rich resource for British and European medical history from the medieval through to the modern period.

Special Collections had previously received funding from the Wellcome Trust’s ‘Research Resources in Medical History’ scheme to catalogue our principal late-nineteenth and twentieth-century medical archives. The project began in February 2004 and ran for 18 months until August 2005, making ten new collections available to researchers for the first time.

The collections submitted for cataloguing reflect the University’s expertise, from the late-nineteenth century, in the allied fields of anatomy, physiology, pharmacology and pathology. Once catalogued, they will provide researchers with the opportunity to explore the unique contributions made by significant members of this community to their professions; and to trace the developing role of these relatively new disciplines in medical education.

All the collections are catalogued, please see the Online section on our Collections page.

Andrew MacGregor
Deputy Archivist
+44 (0)1224 272972

Aberdeen Colleges of Education Archive
With Northern College of Education and the University of Aberdeen merging in 2001 and the Hilton campus vacated in 2005, the archives of the teaching colleges back to 1874 were deposited with Special Collections. This is a major institutional archive and a tremendous addition to the University’s historic collections highlighting the important history of educational training in Scotland The archives are also important to the current School of Education in establishing its long and proud history... more

Andrew MacGregor
Deputy Archivist
+44 (0)1224 272972