Credits and resources

A display case with assorted fieldwork equipment including recorders, headsets and microphones.

This exhibition was developed by the University of Edinburgh’s Heritage Collections and co-curated by Bianca Packham, Louise Scollay, and Kirsty Stewart.

With special thanks to Elin Crotty, Sarah Deters, Emily Hick, Elliot Holmes, Juliette Lichman, Joan Macdonald, Lily Mellon, Jenny Nex, Stuart Robinson, and Robyn Rogers for their expertise and support.

About the Sound Archive

The School of Scottish Studies was established in 1951, at the University of Edinburgh, to collect, preserve, research, and publish material relating to the cultural traditions and folklore of Scotland. Over the past 70 years, staff and student fieldworkers at the School have made approximately 33,000 recordings, including songs, instrumental music, tales, customs, beliefs, and local history.

The early collectors visited crofting, farming, and fishing communities obtaining information on a range of subjects such as the life of farm servants, the agricultural year, food gathering and preparation, house construction, the herring industry, traditional medicine, animal husbandry, emigration, whaling, religion, weather lore, lifecycle, and seasonal customs. Urban life has also been documented and there are recollections of shipbuilding, factory work, transport, housing and street life, schooling, as well as contemporary fieldwork examining the re-invention of customs and use of ‘heritage’.

Material in the Sound Archive comes from all over Scotland and its diaspora, and as well as being a rich repository of oral tradition it is invaluable for its range of dialects and accents in Gaelic, Scots, and English.

The School’s extensive collections, known as the School of Scottish Studies Archives (SSSA), also include fieldwork equipment, photographs from the 1930s onwards, film and video, and manuscripts, a selection of which are on display within the exhibition.

Explore the Sound Archive

Some of the recordings can be listened to online at Tobar an Dualchais.

The School of Scottish Studies Archives are open to researchers and members of the public. Visits can be arranged by appointment.

Other sound collections at the University of Edinburgh

Regional Ethnology of Scotland Project
Musical Instrument Collection Sound Library

Lothian Health Services Archive