As the year draws to a close it’s time for our annual end of year review. We’ve reviewed our user statistics recording visits to our archives reading room and enquiries received about our holdings to put together a list of our most popular collections in 2019.
For the second year running our most used and enquired about collection is the NHS Forth Valley Archive. It deserves the title of our most popular collection, featuring in the top three most used list in every year since its original transfer to the university in 2012. The collection documents the care and treatment of patients across the Forth Valley area over the past 150 years. The historical records of hospitals including the old Stirling District Asylum and the Royal Scottish National Hospital provide a rich research resource for academics, students and members of the public tracing their family histories. Our NHS collections contain a variety of material beyond the core holdings of historical patient records covering subjects such as nursing education, fundraising and even baking, with staff from the university library taking on the challenge of recreating recipes included in The Grangemouth Cookery Book, produced in 1925 to raise funds for the new Falkirk Infirmary.
The university’s own archives continue to be a well-used resource taking second place in our end of year list. The year started with the exciting discovery of a time capsule from 1969 which was unearthed during the redevelopment of the university’s sports facilities. 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of Brig the university’s student newspaper and the University Archives received support from the Stirling Fund to digitise its first twenty-five years. With the support of a team of student volunteers the papers have now been sorted, catalogued and digitised and will be added to our new Culture on Campus webpages early in the new year.
Our current focus on developing and expanding our sporting heritage collections is reflected in the third place on our list going to the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive. In January Team Scotland launched the ‘Celebrating the past, building the future’ theme for 2019-20. This focus on the history and heritage of Scottish Commonwealth sport has resulted in a marked increase in the use of the collection, a highlight being our red carpet display at the 2019 Team Scotland Awards in Edinburgh in October.
This year also saw a number of projects which have greatly improved the understanding of, and access to our collections. With the support of the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities postgraduate students at Stirling and St Andrews created new online resources focusing on our Peter Mackay and John Grierson archives (a big thank you to Janine and Isabel for their fantastic work). Further digitisation of our holdings was also made possible through our Musicians’ Union Archives Trainee programme with this year’s trainee Lorna digitising over thirty years of the union’s Musician magazine, which will also be made freely available on our new website in the new year.