Innovative research projects on historic collections awarded grants by Aberdeen Humanities Fund

Innovative research projects on historic collections awarded grants by Aberdeen Humanities Fund

The Aberdeen Humanities Fund has selected four innovative projects to receive awards that will allow new research to be carried out on the University of Aberdeen's historic collections.

The Aberdeen Humanities Fund was established by Dr Michael Brown and Dr Jackson Armstrong in 2012 and supports leading research in the humanities with the aim of enriching the cultural life of the University, city and surrounding region.

The Hunter Caldwell Awards are small project grants of £2000 each, intended to spark new research that builds on the University’s historic collections of art, museum objects, books and manuscripts. These treasures have been brought together over five centuries. The Fund puts these remarkable collections front and centre to inform and inspire creative research.

The awards, which are named after Hunter Caldwell – who was a long standing supporter of the University – will give the projects involved the opportunity to develop the initial stages of research and collaboration to bring their questions, and the underlying collections, to wider audiences. The expectation is that these grants will seed-corn larger research plans in each case.

The projects which have been chosen to receive the award are: the Sir Robert Beale Correspondence Project: Opening the Diplomatic Letter in Early modern Europe; Spalding’s Practicks and the Aberdeen Commissary Court in the Seventeenth Century; The Aberdeen Bestiary: Sound-Image-Narrative; and Duncan Liddel’s Library in Aberdeen’s Special Collections: Polymathy and Humanist Networks between Scotland and the Continent.

The Sir Robert Beale Correspondence Project: Opening the Diplomatic Letter in Early modern Europe, led by Dr Andrew Gordon, investigates the Beale Papers (MS 1009), a collection of Latin, French and English letters of the English ambassador and statesman Sir Robert Beale. The collection of Beale’s papers held at Aberdeen is little known and little studied – unlike the more famous portion of his papers at the British Library.

Leading Spalding’s Practicks and the Aberdeen Comissary Court in the Seventeenth Century, Dr Adelyn Wilson will explore a recently discovered example of a ‘Practicks’ – a genre of Scottish legal literature – which relates to the work of Alexander Spalding, who was one of the Aberdeen Commissary Court’s advocates in the years preceeding the Civil Wars.

The Aberdeen Bestiary: Sound-Image-Narrative project will see Dr Suk-Jun Kim create a series of short electroacoustic compositions responding to images from the Aberdeen Bestiary, which recently featured in the Gilded Beasts exhibition.

The final project, Duncan Liddel’s Library in Aberdeen’s Special Collections: Polymathy and Humanist Networks between Scotland and the Continent, is led by Professor Karin Friedrich and supports collaboration between Aberdeen and the Herzog August Library in Wolfenbüttel to explore the international scientific networks of Aberdonian polymath Duncan Liddel.

Professor Jane Stevenson, Regius Chair of Humanity and senior member of the Aberdeen Humanities Fund’s academic board, said: “The projects chosen in the competition for the Hunter Caldwell Awards mark an exciting start for the Aberdeen Humanities Fund. They illustrate both depth of academic rigour and the breadth of interest in Aberdeen’s historic collections.”

Hunter Caldwell was born in Dalmuir and educated at Aberdeen Grammar School before graduating from the University of Aberdeen in 1945.

David Allan, the nephew of Mr Caldwell, is delighted that the awards have been named in recognition of his uncle.

He said: “As my late uncle Hunter Caldwell studied Classics at the University of Aberdeen in the 1940s the family considered it very fitting that following discussions with the University’s Development Trust it was agreed that part of his bequest to the University could be allocated to the Aberdeen Humanities Fund. With the initial funding competition now complete, were are delighted to see Hunter’s generosity manifesting itself in practical terms and helping to fund such exciting projects as the four selected for Awards. We wish all success to the recipients.”

Fundraising income for the Aberdeen Humanities Fund is channelled through the University of Aberdeen’s Development Trust which is an independent registered charity.  The Trust raises essential funds to support much of the University’s activities such as vital medical research as well as supporting students through the provision of scholarships, bursaries and facilities.  Funding from our world-wide family of supporters including alumni, individuals, companies, organisations and the community is essential for the development of the Aberdeen Humanities Fund and many other activities.

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