During the summer of 2017 Henry Carden, a postgraduate Communications, Media & Culture student, carried out a research placement in the University Archives funded by the Musicians’ Union. Here he writes about his work opening up the family history resources contained within the Musicians’ Union Archive.
For the past 8 weeks, I’ve been hiding away in the Musicians’ Union archives putting together a guide to family history resources as part of a graduate trainee programme entitled ‘Musical Roots’. The guide aims to provide an overview of the resources available within the Musicians’ Union archive which may be of interest to people researching their musical ancestors.
As a young-at-heart mature student, I certainly had mixed emotions at discovering that I myself have been archived:
In spite of my ‘illustrious’ musical career, my details in an old branch membership guide were the only mention. So, if my great, great, great grandson is reading this, unfortunately you’ll have to look elsewhere to locate information about my short-lived mid-2000s indie-rock career…
As part of the Musical Roots project, I created a database of over 500 obituaries spanning over a hundred years, from the early days of the Amalgamated Musicians’ Union right up to the relatively recent past. It’s worth noting that quite often, tributes and reports weren’t actually described as obituaries, but they featured the kind of information which you would expect to find in an obituary. It’s also worth mentioning that the inclusion of updates about members (both in life and death) was at the beck and call of Branch Secretaries as this article from The Musicians’ Journal demonstrates:
Furthermore, I also included some retirement tributes in the database as they presented a lot of similar information to obituaries. Unfortunately, not all deceased members of the Union received obituaries (understandable given the sheer volume of members) and more often than not, obituaries were reserved for “good union men” who had played active roles in the organisation – and also for more famous members such as John Lennon.
In addition to the obituaries document, I also created databases of photographs and membership cards which are available to consult in the University Archives. The membership cards database doesn’t include the Edinburgh and Glasgow branches as they were too numerous to document, although highlights there included a few familiar names such as Shirley Manson, Gerry Rafferty and Edwyn Collins.
The Musicians’ Union Archive contains a huge amount of historical information on its members and this material is of great interest to people researching their family history.
Whilst some people might have a romantic notion of discovering personal information about one of their musical ancestors, it should be noted that a lot of the resources contained are predominantly administrative. That said, if your relative was an active member of the Union or held an official role, such as Branch Secretary or member of the Executive Committee, for example, then that increases the likelihood of finding more personal information.
Unfortunately, for most members, the only things you’re likely to discover are membership numbers, addresses, the instrument they played and in some cases, their reason for leaving the Union – most likely for falling into arrears with their subscriptions. But don’t let that put you off! You never know what you might discover.
A detailed guide to the family history resources contained in the Musicians’ Union Archive is available here.
To celebrate the occasion of the first Stirling Marathon which takes place on Sunday 21st May our Exhibitions Assistant, Ian Mackintosh, writes about one of Scotland’s greatest marathon runner’s contribution to Commonwealth Games history.
Jim Alder is without doubt one of the greatest distance runners in the history of Scottish Athletics. Jim competed in the 1966 and 1970 Commonwealth Games and also represented Great Britain at the 1968 and 1972 Olympic Games. Jim collected a complete set of medals at the Commonwealth Games winning gold in the marathon and bronze in the six mile race in Kingston in 1966, and silver in the marathon in Edinburgh in 1970. Another of Jim’s claims to fame is that he was involved in all three Queen’s Baton Relays when Scotland hosted the Games (in 1970, 1986 and 2014).
Jim’s first involvement with the Baton Relay came at the opening ceremony of the 1970 British Commonwealth Games where he had the honour of bringing the baton into Meadowbank Stadium and presenting it to Prince Philip. Jim recalled the day in a recent interview for the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive:
“I was captain of the Scottish Cross Country Team and a Gold Medallist for the Marathon at the last games. I got a letter from the Scottish Amateur Athletics Association asking me if I would be interested in taking part in the Baton Relay in Edinburgh. I replied that I was honoured to take part. They asked me to keep it secret and not to let my family know because I was to be the involved in the last leg of the relay in Edinburgh. I received a phone call a few days later during which they then told me that I would be carrying the baton into the stadium to hand it over to Prince Philip.
I was also given specific instructions as to what I was to wear. I was to wear my Scotland Vest a pair of white shorts and a pair of plain white canvas shoes. On no account was there to be any branding. At the time Adidas were my running shoe sponsors and they provided me with all of my gear. So I had to go out and buy a pair of shorts and shoes for which I was reimbursed. My wife and family were in the top stadium waiting on the teams coming in and when the Scotland team appeared I wasn’t in the team. She turned to her dad and our son and said yer dad is late again he’s missed the team. You see I had a reputation for being late. It was then that I made my entrance and it was flashed up on the scoreboard that the mystery Baton Relay runner was Jim Alder. It was great running round the track. The roar of the crowd was amazing. They were clapping and cheering and of course I knew most of the other British team’s athletes and they were cheering me on. It brought a lump to my throat and I was very emotional when I handed over the baton to Prince Philip. It was a fabulous occasion and when I handed the baton over to Prince Philip he asked if I had run all the way with the message.”
In 1986 Jim was asked if he would like the honour of carrying the baton over the border into Scotland during the relay. Recalling the day Jim noted that:
“I was advised to be in Coldstream for midmorning and I was met by the committee. This was a very different occasion [from 1970] because my role was to carry the baton over the border and hand it over to someone at Coldstream. It was a less formal affair and I didn’t need to worry about what I wore. In fact I wasn’t even advised about what to wear so I decided I would wear my 1970 Scotland Uniform which still fitted me. I was still a serious runner back then and I maintained my weight well. I was still competing regularly in Cross Country, Road Races and Marathons. I was really happy to be involved in the baton relay once again and I never thought I would ever be involved in it again.”
In 2014 Jim had the honour of being part of the final stages of the baton relay on the opening day of the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. At an event in Scotland House (The Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow) he presented the baton to Prince Imran, Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation. For Jim “it was a great day, because it was an opportunity be in my hometown and the reception I received showed that people hadn’t forgotten what I had achieved nearly 40 years before.”
Our exhibition Hosts and Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games was also officially opened that day and we were present to witness Jim’s contribution to the day’s events. After the ceremony was completed, we met Jim and chatted to him about his career. Jim was very interested in our exhibition and was delighted when he saw that we had featured him in the display. The exhibition included a photograph of Jim taken shortly after he had won his silver medal in the 1970 marathon. The photograph was titled “A helping hand”. Jim was delighted to see the picture and was more than happy to chat with us about the race. He spoke fondly of his great friend and rival Ron Hill and highlighted the fact that five of the fastest Marathon runners in the world were competing in the race. For Jim “it has been a great privilege to be asked to take part in all three Commonwealth Games Relays and the fact that I was involved in the 2012 Olympic Torch Relay completes a unique set for me.”
Have you planned your next holiday? Do you enjoy poring over travel books, dreaming about exotic locations? If so, you might want to take a look at the display in the library stairwell.
The display of 19th century books on travel and exploration includes several beautiful books about India, Jamaica, Morocco and New Guinea. There is also a book about David Livingstone’s explorations in Africa.
The books are all from Innerpeffray Library in Perthshire ( http://www.innerpeffraylibrary.co.uk/).
‘Musical roots’: Creating a guide to family history resources in the MU Archive
The University of Stirling Archives is delighted to introduce a new graduate trainee programme supported by the Musicians’ Union which will provide hands-on experience working with the union’s extensive archive, improving access to this unique research resource. This three year project will provide an annual paid archive trainee post, each placement lasting eight weeks and including a stipend of £3,000.
Since its transfer to the University of Stirling Archives in 2009 the Musicians’ Union Archive has been one of our most used collections with researchers from around the UK (and further afield) using the collection for a wide variety of research projects. The archive also receives a large amount of enquiries from members of the public engaged in family history research whose relatives were professional musicians. In 2016 a new history of the Union was published which has generated further interest in the collection (Cloonan, M. & Williamson, J., Players’ Work Time – A Social History of the Musicians’ Union, Manchester University Press).
This year’s archive trainee will open up resources for family historians contained within the union’s records. The Musicians’ Union Archive contains a huge amount of historical information on its members. This material is of great interest to people researching their family history. However these records are scattered throughout the collection with the information being of varying detail and quality. The post holder will carry out a survey of the Archive, identifying material of genealogical interest, and create a guide to the family history resources available.
The timing of the eight week placement is flexible but we expect it to be completed before the end of July 2017.
Please send a CV and supporting statement detailing why you are interested in the post and how it would benefit your future career to firstname.lastname@example.org, marking your email MU Trainee 2017.
Closing date for applications is Friday 21 April 2017
Interviews will be held on Friday 28 April 2017
For further information please contact the University Archivist, Karl Magee at 01786 466619 / email@example.com
Today marks the start of the countdown to Gold Coast 2018, with one year to go to the Games. This morning we visited the Scottish Government building at Victoria Quay, Edinburgh, where our Hosts and Champions exhibition is currently on display to celebrate the occasion. The event provided an opportunity to meet with the Active Scotland Legacy 2014 team who have been great supporters of our Hosts and Champions project, and legacy partners Street Soccer Scotland.
With another Commonwealth Games on the horizon we’re delighted with the continued interest in our Hosts & Champions exhibition, which celebrates Scotland’s contribution to the competition, with a number of additional venues across Scotland confirmed for 2017 and 2018. For further information check our project page and updates on Twitter using #HostsandChampions
Over the next twelve months we will also be collecting material relating to Team Scotland, preserving a record of Scotland’s participation in the 2017 Commonwealth Youth Games and the 2018 Commonwealth Games. This material will be added to our Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive, which preserves over 80 years of Scottish sporting heritage.
Today’s blog post comes from Jill Dye, a second-year PhD student at Stirling on a SGSAH-funded Applied Research Collaboration with the University Dundee and the Library of Innerpeffray. Whilst her PhD research focuses on borrowers from the Library of Innerpeffray 1747-1854, Jill has been using the archives at Stirling to research the borrowers from the Leighton Library, Dunblane, as part of the Scottish Universities Research Collections Associate Scheme (SURCAS) Pilot.
How much can we know about ordinary individuals long since deceased? Any search usually starts with parish and census records via one of the many platforms of the thriving genealogy business. Before the first census in 1841, however, the only information you’re likely to find is birth, baptism, marriage and death. While the early censuses record addresses and occupations, such information does not give a particularly good insight into what they were like as an individual, only key places and dates. Any archive that allows us to see more than these simple facts and build a better picture of a person is therefore invaluable.
My research focuses on 18th and 19th century library borrower records, which are particularly rich in historic Perthshire. Whilst my PhD is centred on the borrower records from Innerpeffray, as part of a public outreach project I have recently been focusing on the region’s other incredible borrowing record, that of the Leighton Library at Dunblane, which is housed at the University of Stirling. Borrowing records usually give address and occupation information (far earlier than the census), but more importantly, they show how an individual interacts with the library and the types of books which they were interested in reading. These archives are invaluable not just to academics but to the family or local historian, and yet few know of their existence.
This project aims to highlight the usefulness of this resource to the wider public. The website created from the project explores the borrowings of selected Leighton Library users, using, where possible, local and family history sources to place the records of their borrowing into the wider context of their lives. These individuals range from well-known figures such as the writer John Ramsay of Ochtertyre, to a Minister from St Ninians, a local Surgeon, and even a female visitor to the Dunblane Mineral Springs. In a forthcoming guest post on the website, fellow PhD Student Maxine Branagh-Miscampbell will be commenting on the borrowings of a local student. The site will also eventually include an index of names recorded in the register so that anyone researching local individuals can easily identify whether they appear in the record. The project will culminate in a display of material from the Leighton Archives followed by a short talk, free and open to the public, which will take place at the University Library on Tuesday 28 March. More details on the event are available here.
Opening up the Archive: 50 years of life on campus
University of Stirling Archives
Saturday 18 March 2017
As part of a wide range of events being held across campus as part of Stirling Open Doors the University Archives is throwing open its doors to tell the story of the university’s foundation, growth and development. Come and explore the material we hold documenting the history of the university including our extensive photographic collection and view our new Timeline exhibition.
We are also inviting visitors to share their memories of the university. Bring along your old photographs of the campus and we will digitise them and add them to our collection, preserving further images of life on campus. If you’ve got stories to tell, or memories to share, you can contribute to our Stirling Stories project, which is being organised in collaboration with the School of Arts & Humanities. Students from our Heritage and Film & Media courses will be on hand to interview visitors about their memories of the university, creating a lasting record for the University Archive.
Full details of the University’s Stirling Open Doors Day events can be found at:
We are delighted to present the full programme for Pass it on! Celebrating Scotland’s sporting heritage. The event will bring together experts in the curation, care, use and promotion of sporting heritage to discuss their work and provide details of current projects. The event if free and open to anyone with an interest in sporting heritage. If you would like to attend please contact Ian Mackintosh, Exhibitions Assistant, Hosts & Champions, at firstname.lastname@example.org / tel. 01786 467240
Pass it on! Celebrating Scotland’s sporting heritage
University of Stirling Library
Friday 24 February 2017
10.30: Tea & coffee
10.45: Sporting Heritage Networks
12.00: Unlocking Scotland’s Sporting Heritage #1
- Hosts & Champions project
- Karl Magee, University of Stirling
- Ian Mackintosh, University of Stirling
- Richard Haynes, University of Stirling
13.45: Unlocking Scotland’s Sporting Heritage #2
- Richard McBrearty, Scottish Football Museum
- Rebecca Prentice, British Golf Museum, St Andrews
- Neil Johnson-Symington, Cycling collection, Glasgow Museums
- Paul Brough, Bill McLaren Archive, Hawick Heritage Hub
15.00: Tea & coffee
15.15: Using Scotland’s Sporting Heritage
- Andy Mitchell & John Hutchinson, Independent researchers
- Matthew McDowell, University of Edinburgh
- Chris Wilkins, Sporting Memories Network
16.30: The Future of Scotland’s Sporting Heritage
- Discussion chaired by Richard Haynes, University of Stirling
Throughout the day a small exhibition of material from the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive will be on display in the Archives & Special Collections area.
17.00: Evening social event, Macrobert arts centre
- 17.00 – Drinks reception
- 17.30 – Film screening
- 19.00 – Conference dinner
University of Stirling Library
Friday 24 February 2017, 10am – 5pm
This event, supported by the Sport in Museums Network, will bring together all those with an interest in Scotland’s sporting heritage including its creators (competitors and clubs), curators (archivists, librarians and museum professionals) and users (academics and researchers). A programme of talks, displays and film screenings will examine how our sporting heritage is currently being cared for and celebrated. The event will highlight the huge potential of sporting heritage in areas including education, tourism, sporting participation and reminiscence projects. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss future steps to protect and develop our sporting heritage.
Hugh Dan MacLennan (Sports commentator and Shinty historian)
Richard McBrearty (Scottish Football Museum)
Angela Howe (British Golf Museum, St Andrews)
Chris Wilkins (Sporting Memories Network)
Justine Reilly (Sport in Museums Network)
Richard Haynes (Hosts & Champions, University of Stirling)
The University of Stirling is home to the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive, which documents over 80 years of Scottish sporting participation on the international stage. Following the Glasgow 2014 Games a touring exhibition was developed. Hosts & Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games has visited ten venues across Scotland, travelled hundreds of miles around the country and been seen by thousands of visitors.
The event is free and open to anyone with an interest in sporting heritage.
Please note that there are a limited number of 50 places available for this event.
If you would like to attend please contact Ian Mackintosh, Exhibitions Assistant, Hosts & Champions, at email@example.com / tel. 01786 467240
Well, it’s that time of the year again. Time to tot up our visitor figures and enquiry databases to discover how our collections were used by researchers and find the most popular archives of 2016. For the second year running the collection which has topped our end-of-year chart is the NHS Forth Valley Archive. The collection, which includes the records of Stirling District Asylum (Bellsdyke Hospital) and the Royal Scottish National Hospital, continues to be very popular with family historians, providing a wealth of information on the patients who passed through the Victorian health-care system. In 2016 the records of these local hospitals have also increasingly been used by academics and students across a range of fascinating research projects.
In 2017 the University of Stirling will celebrate its 50th anniversary having opened its doors for the first time on 18 September 1967. The interest in, and preparations for, this important anniversary have resulted in the university’s own archives taking the No. 2 spot. The University Archive holds the official history of the institution in its minute books, reports and publications. It also preserves the unofficial story of life on campus through student newspapers, memorabilia and oral history interviews with retired staff and alumni. We are looking forward to making full use of this material throughout next year’s 50th celebrations!
Our film collections remain incredibly popular with academics, researchers and students. In 2016 the personal and working papers of the director Lindsay Anderson ended the year at No. 3 in our chart. In part this was due to a renewed academic interest in his work sparked by the publication of Lindsay Anderson Revisited: Unknown Aspects of a Film Director (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016). The enduring appeal of films such as If…. and This Sporting Life also brought a number of researchers to Stirling. The collection was also a key resource for our own M Litt Film Studies students who worked on Anderson’s papers during their research placements in the archive.
Outside the archives reading room our Hosts & Champions exhibition continued its tour around Scotland, taking material from our Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive to Stranraer, Kirkintilloch, Eastriggs and Grangemouth. Unique items from our collections were also loaned to exhibitions in places as varied as Montrose, Stirling, Paris and Udine!
We ended the year with the launch of an exciting new project to support the cataloguing and conservation of the Peter Mackay Archive, a collection relating to modern African history which was recently donated to the University of Stirling. A crowdfunding campaign has been launched on the Crowdfunder website:
Help us to reach our target by 24 January 2017!
Those results in full:
- NHS Forth Valley
- University of Stirling
- Lindsay Anderson
- NHS Forth Valley
- Musicians’ Union
- University of Stirling
- Norman McLaren
- NHS Forth Valley
- Commonwealth Games Scotland