British Antarctic Oral History Project
The British Antarctic Oral History Project is a joint project between the BAS Club, British Antarctic Survey (BAS), UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) and Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI).
- To preserve and make accessible the unofficial history of the British presence in Antarctica, within living memory, by recording the reminiscences of a sample of those individuals who were personally involved
- To acquire first-hand accounts of events, activities, background culture etc which are unlikely to be represented in official 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
Before 2009 some oral history recordings had been made separately by BAS and SPRI. Recently, new funding sources (from the BAS Club, and in particular from the UKAHT) and the recruitment of a group of volunteers has enabled this work to be combined and accelerated.
A coordinating committee, which includes representatives of all four organisations, oversees the project from the selection of interviewees to the final archiving of the recordings.
Potential interviewees are contacted and, if they agree to be interviewed, some research is done using the BAS Archives in Cambridge and is provided in advance to the interviewer. Interviews are typically two hours, but may be around forty five minutes if several are done at a reunion. Afterwards a transcript of the interview is made, and both audio (or video) recording and transcript are catalogued and lodged in BAS archives. They may be borrowed by any interested member of the public (subject to certain conditions). A long term aspiration is to make them available over the Internet.
At the time of writing (May 2012) around 135 interviews have been carried out since the project began in March 2009, though not all have yet been fully transcribed and archived. Together with the pre-existing ones, there are currently about 200 oral history recordings in the BAS archives. Further interviews are held at the Scott Polar Research Institute and another four Antarctic scientists have been recorded through the British Museum as part of their Oral History of British Science program. The project is still in the collecting phase but the overall aim is to make these recordings accessible to the public and thus inspire people for generations to come.
- Amanda Lynnes — UKAHT and overall project coordinator
- Allan Wearden — BAS Club coordinator
- Joanna Rae — BAS coordinator
- Naomi Boneham — SPRI coordinator
BAS Club member Allan Wearden is the main Club coordinator and he can be contacted for information at firstname.lastname@example.org
BAS Club members who would like to help the project as volunteers, or suggest a potential interviewee, should contact Allan Wearden (email@example.com or 01254 247541) or Andy Smith on firstname.lastname@example.org. Volunteers may choose to research the background of selected candidates, transcribe interviews, or listen to interviews to identify snippets for the web.