Volunteers sought to help record Scotland’s political past

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An image of a loch

The Scottish Political Archive – housed at the University of Stirling – is appealing for volunteers to help create a comprehensive record of its 2014 Independence Referendum collection.

Volunteers will help transcribe and record almost 3,000 leaflets and photographs that the Scottish Political Archive (SPA) holds from the time. Once catalogued, the items will be digitised and made available to researchers and members of the public from around the world.

Led by Dr Chiara Bonacchi, of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and Sarah Bromage, of the SPA, with Dr Elisa Broccoli, the project is being run in collaboration with the University College London Institute of Archaeology, The Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge, and the British Museum.

Volunteers will use MicroPasts – a free and open-source crowdsourcing platform that supports online mass creation – to take part. MicroPasts was established in 2013, with funding from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, and aims to build collaborations between heritage institutions and members of the public.

As the free-to-use tool is based online, people can get involved in the initiative despite the current COVID-19 lockdown restrictions.

Badges from the 'Yes' and 'No' campaigns during the 2014 Independence Referendum

Just two of the items from the 'Yes' and 'No' campaigns held by the Scottish Political Archive

Dr Bonacchi said: “This is an important activity to ensure that heritage organisations like the Scottish Political Archive can continue engaging audiences during this difficult period and in its immediate aftermath. Through this digitisation project, in particular, we hope to create data that will unlock new research on the political uses of heritage in the context of the 2014 Independence Referendum.”

Volunteers can sign up to take part in the project via the MicroPasts website, with no minimum or maximum commitment required.

Sarah Bromage, Scottish Political Archivist, said: “We actively collected ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaign materials from the 2014 Independence Referendum campaigns. We wanted to find out what was happening at grassroots level in local communities; what was being put through people’s doors, distributed at campaign stalls and displayed in shop and home windows. This new project will allow us to take those materials to a global audience.”