British Antarctic Oral History Project, 02 December 2015

Fascinating oral history project capturing the history of British endeavour in the Antarctic launches to the public. Collaboration between leading polar organisations brings ambitious British Antarctic Oral History Project to life.

The British Antarctic Oral History Project is the result of collaboration between the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT), British Antarctic Survey (BAS), BAS Club and Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI). The project’s aim is to capture and preserve the recollections and memories of those extraordinarily dedicated individuals who have worked in Antarctica, with a particular focus on those who worked for, or closely with BAS and its predecessors, Operation Tabarin, 1943-45 and Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS), 1945-61.

Although the official history of these organisations is well documented by original records held in the BAS Archives Service, this project has provided an opportunity to capture first hand insights into the relationships, culture, decisions and policy that shaped the scientific research in the region at the time. The resulting recordings reveal a fascinating history of life in Antarctica that will be preserved and made accessible for generations to come.

The main collection phase, between 2009 and March 2014, prioritised interviews with the older generation. Opportunities for collection were also maximised via reunion events and as diverse a range of experiences as possible were recorded. So far, over 280 interviews have been collected - with service dates ranging from the 1940’s to the present day – all of which are catalogued and held permanently by the BAS Archives Service. 51 interviews and transcripts are currently accessible via the BAS Club website (http://basclub.org/oral-history/). Yorkshire based agency, Digital Nomads worked with the project partners to develop the web based platform, which makes the archive accessible on a range of devices, including mobile. The transcription process continues, and as more interviews become available both the recording and transcription will be added to the BAS Club site.

Bringing the project together required a huge, co-ordinated effort on behalf of the organisations involved. In addition to which a fantastic team of dedicated volunteers have also worked tirelessly to bring the project to fruition and whose efforts underpin its success.

Allan Wearden, co-ordinator on behalf of BAS Club commented: “I’m delighted to see the project live on the BAS Club website, with open access for all to view and listen to the growing collection of Antarctic stories; many of which have never been heard before!”

The UKAHT, BAS, BAS Club and SPRI are extremely grateful to all the interviewees, interviewers, co-ordinators and volunteers for their continued support.

Financial assistance for the project was kindly provided by the BAT Government, Capital Group, the South Georgia Association, BAS Club and UKAHT.

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We are very keen to promote the important heritage work that we do, telling the story of life in Antarctica both past and present. If you are interested in running a story about us, using our images or films or want to discuss an interview or potential collaboration opportunity we would love to hear from you.  Please contact either Sarah or Lewis at Limewash to discuss your requirements sarah@limewash.co.uk or +44 (0)1223 813 557.