Local school pupils inspired by University's Special Collections

Local school pupils inspired by University's Special Collections

Talented youngsters from Kittybrewster Primary School enjoyed a private viewing of their own art work at an exhibition at the University of Aberdeen last week (Thursday, November 21).

The primary 7 pupils teamed up with the Learning and Archives team within the University’s Special Collections Centre to create a project for a national campaign.

The Explore Your Archive campaign has been designed to showcase archives across the UK and to encourage community participation and interaction with archive collections.

This is the first year that the campaign has run and the theme of the project is story box. The project aims to encourage members of the public to respond to the collections in a variety of interpretive and creative ways.

The team at the Special Collections Centre chose to base their project around the David Cardno collection, which also featured in the centre’s recent Wanderlust exhibition.

The collection is made up of  the notebooks, journals, scrapbook and photos of David Cardno, who was a whaler from Peterhead. In 1866, at the age of 13, he stowed away on a whaling ship bound for the Arctic and when he was discovered by the captain was allowed to stay on board as a cabin boy. Cardno spent the rest of his working life in the Arctic in the whaling business, and his notebooks are full of fascinating detail not only about the thrills and dangers of life as a whaler, but also about the Inuit people he met. Cardno spent a good deal of time with the Inuit of Baffin Island, even living with a family in their igloo for a few months when he was a teenager, and was interested in their customs and traditions. As an old man he spent three years manning a whaling station on Baffin Island solo, and he spent the time writing both his own memoirs and also what seems to be the basis for an intended pamphlet on Inuit life, in which he writes his observations of a variety of topics such as Inuit hunting, boat building and house building techniques, religion, childbirth and medicine.

The pupils from Kittybrewster visited the collection and were then inspired to create their own masterpieces, which are on display at the Sir Duncan Rice Library this week.

Siobhán Convery, Head of Special Collections, recognised the tremendous contribution from the children, she said: “Archives enable all of us to explore stories, places and people that are at the heart of our communities and it has been inspiring to see the ways in which the children have interpreted the collection in such rich and creative ways.

“We are now looking forward to taking the project to other schools across the City and Shire and seeing how the University’s archive collections can inspire more youngsters.”

Gillian Forbes, P7 teacher at Kittybrewster Primary School, added: "Being approached University’s Special Collections Centre and introduced to David Cardno's story box has been a great experience for the children at Kittybrewster.  Not only have the children been excited, curious and truly engaged in learning from a real local man's archives/true stories, they have used this as a stimulus to explore other areas of learning.  The archives have made history and learning experiences relevant and alive.  It was a massive opportunity for the wider school community also.  We have started to make links with University of Aberdeen which is literally on our doorstep and will no doubt use/work with such a valuable resources, more in the future."

For further information about the campaign and how the Learning and Archives team worked with pupils of Kittybrewster Primary School, please visit: http://archiveexplorers.wordpress.com

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