This blog post is part of a series for Explore Your Archive.
We’ve been having an interesting time on the Isle of Jura, creating a new archive from scratch. Specifically, a sound archive, full of living memories of the island. The recordings reach back just far enough to graze the First World War and work forwards up to documentary-style capture of ‘the present’ – a day in the Jura Stores, or with the ‘Ferry boys’, preparing for ‘Ardlussa Sports’, or witnessing the renovation of the Lighthouse Station.
Working in this close community, with the sole responsibility of capturing, managing and protecting collective history while being accountable to every individual, I found it very difficult to keep this big job within its bounds! In a population of 200, you end up socialising with the same people you’ve been working with, and a lot is expected from the voluntary sector. The project was hosted by a local charity, with six volunteer Directors to whom I’d to report every month. They’d originally won the funding from the Heritage Lottery and Argyll and the Islands’ LEADER programme 2007-13 (European money for rural areas). Another group of eight volunteers formed my ‘steering group’ who voted on key decisions about the details of design and execution. A third group of 22 volunteers materialised for training in computers and how to transcribe passages from the recordings; resulting scripts were then published in the island’s monthly newsletter, the ‘Jura Jottings’. We had three students mucking in over the summer and an islander at a recording studio on board to produce a CD of some of the collected stories in the last quarter. Altogether, this means that more than 20% of the community have been involved in the endeavour ‘behind the scenes’.