Aberdeen University Oral History Archive

Scope and Content

This archive currently comprises over 100 interviews with over 90 individuals connected with the University. The interviews contain personal information about each individual and reflect on the history, structure, constitution and development of the University. They provide unrivalled glimpses into the lives of those connected with the institution, from remarkably detailed memories of graduates of the 1920s and 30s describing landladies, digs and food, through to ex-Principals and Heads of Department recounting their first hand experiences of university government at the highest level.

The interviews bring unique personal perspectives to the impact on the University of two world wars, the rapid expansion of the 1960s, reductions in funding in the 1980s and events such as the Quincentenary in 1995, right up to the present. They detail changes in the social history of Aberdeen and the surrounding area, together with developments in, for example, medicine, psychology, education, law and music, set in a wider educational and social context. Anyone interested in individual personalities or the history of the University will find facts and anecdotes to add to the more formal records, statistics and other written works.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Aberdeen University Oral History Archive was begun in 1985 as part of the Aberdeen University Quincentenary Project. Interviews with former students, staff and other individuals connected with the University were originally intended to aid historians working on monographs commemorating the University's Quincentenary, which was celebrated in 1995, but the considerable historical value of these first interviews has encouraged the University to extend the project beyond this date. The archive now contains over 100 interviews with over 90 individuals connected with the University.


Interviews are listed in numerical sequence as they are completed.

Access Information

Transcripts of the interviews are available for consultation in the reading room of Special Libraries and Archives. The tapes themselves are not normally available. Access to the transcripts is restricted to bona fide researchers studying the history of the University or a related subject, or the life of the interviewee. Full text searching across all the interviews is available on request. Contact the Reading Room for further details (e-mail: speclib@abdn.ac.uk )

Acquisition Information

See Archival History, above

Other Finding Aids

A list of completed interviews and transcripts is available at the Aberdeen University Oral History Project web pages at http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/historic/speclib/oralhistoryarchive.htm

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: speclib@abdn.ac.uk ) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures

Custodial History

The tapes were created under the auspices of the University Quincentenary History Project. They were transferred to the care of Special Libraries and Archives on 31 Dec 2000.


The archive will be regularly augmented by new recordings. The future collecting policy for the archive intends to target graduates from the 1960s onwards, particularly new graduates leaving the University each summer, foreign students, and people who have dropped out of the University.

Related Material

Historical records of the University of Aberdeen (1860 - ) and its predecessors, King's College (1495 - 1860) and Marischal College (1593 - 1860), are deposited in this repository. These include records of University students and staff. Brief details can be found in the University Library Catalogue, accessible online http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/library/


The interviews have been used in a number of titles published by Aberdeen University Press in the Quincentennial Studies in the University of Aberdeen series. Further details can be found in the University Library Catalogue, accessible online http://www.abdn.ac.uk/diss/library/

Additional Information

This material is original

Corporate Names