We hold an extensive collection of oral history recordings and audio visual materials dating from the 1950s onwards. The original idea for the creation of an Orkney Sound Archive came from Orcadian writer and folklorist Ernest W. Marwick.
During the 1950s Ernest became a journalist for a local newspaper which led on to a career as a freelance broadcaster, which allowed him to experiment with the new sound recording technology becoming available at the time. During a period of 30 years Ernest Marwick made more than 800 broadcasts for the BBC, capturing all aspects of everyday island life. He quickly realised their importance with the result that his collection of over 200 recordings form the nucleus of the Sound Archive collection.
Over the years the collection has been grown substantially and now includes:
- BBC Radio Orkney recordings, providing a rich resource of material that can be used to explore local issues, natural history, literature, folklore, local dialects and many other subjects
- Recordings made by Sound Archive project workers, including studies of selected local communities such as life on the islands of Stronsay and North Ronaldsay
Transcriptions or summaries of topics are available for many recordings and we have an ongoing preservation project to digitise recordings made on fragile magnetic tape. Visitors to the Archive can listen to recordings on request and copies can be purchased.