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About the British Antarctic Oral History Project

Background

In 1985 British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Archives Service began an oral history project to preserve the memories those who had worked for, or closely with, Operation Tabarin, 1943–45, Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS), 1945–61, and British Antarctic Survey (BAS), 1962–present. The project declined after 1988 due to lack of resources but was revived in 2003, when a professional freelance interviewer was employed to undertake most of the recording work.

In March 2009 the British Antarctic Oral History Project (BAOHP) was initiated. It is a collaboration between BAS, BAS Club, UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) and Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) to capture reminiscences at a greater rate than otherwise was possible. The project arose from an earlier idea proposed to the BAS Club by Gordon Devine.

Aims

  • To preserve and make accessible the unofficial history of British endeavour in the Antarctic, particularly that of BAS and its predecessors, by recording the reminiscences of former staff and of others closely associated with the Survey
  • To acquire first-hand accounts of events, activities, background culture, and gain insight in to decisions and policy, relationships between organisations and individuals etc which are unlikely to be represented in the official record held in the archives
  • To capture an essence of individuals by recording their memories in their own words and/or still or moving images of them in conversation

Funding

Most of the funding is provided by UKAHT and BAT Government via UKAHT.

BAS Club has paid for about 10% of the interviews.

BAS Archives Service contributes on average 3 per year.

We also gratefully acknowledge contributions from:

Interview Cataloguing and Access to Recordings and Transcripts

Detailed information about the interviews archived at the British Antarctic Survey is maintained in the BAS Archives Database. The database details whether the interview is an audio recording or filmed interview, who funded and conducted the interview, the date of the interview and the transcriber of any transcript. The database also provides a synopsis of the interviews, information about the interviewee including their job and years of service and if possible a photograph. Some interviews are not yet listed in the Archives Database and many interviews require work on their database entries. A pdf download is available listing the interviews that have been added to the database. As resources allow an online version of the archives database will be developed.

Transcripts of some of the interviews are also available. Transcribing is time consuming but a team of volunteers are continually adding to the collection.

Results of the project can be accessed by:

Project team

The team consists of a mix of paid and volunteer enthusiasts, led by project coordinator Amanda Lynnes (UK Antarctic Heritage Trust). We try to meet annually as a group.

Coordinators (the management team):

  • Amanda Lynnes (UK Antarctic Heritage Trust), project coordinator and coordinator for UKAHT-funded interviews
  • Joanna Rae (BAS) archivist, coordinator for BAS-funded interviews
  • Allan Wearden (volunteer), coordinator for BAS Club-funded interviews
  • Naomi Boneham (SPRI archivist)

Interviewers:

  • Chris Eldon Lee (freelance) (audio)
  • Jack Tolson (freelance) (moving film)
  • Felicity Aston (freelance interviewer) (audio)

Researchers:

  • Peter Bird (volunteer research leader)
  • Terry Allen (volunteer)
  • Melanie D’souza (volunteer)
  • Dave Burkitt (volunteer)

Transcribers:

  • Andy J Smith (volunteer transcription leader)
  • Alan Carroll (volunteer)
  • Mike Leach (volunteer)
  • Chris Lush (volunteer)
  • John Blunn (volunteer)
  • Ken Hill (volunteer)
  • Claire and Charlie Robb (volunteers)
  • Alex Gaffikin (volunteer)
  • Sue & John Edwards (volunteers)
  • Carys Torres (volunteer)
  • Maggie Russell (volunteer)

Cataloguers:

  • Sophie Leverington (BAS Archives volunteer)
  • Judith Lloyd-Jones (BAS Archives volunteer)