Conference celebrates Scotland’s archives

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The Why Archives Matter: Heritage Memory and Identity conference last week showed how archives tell the story of Scotland, provide us with a sense of identity and are essential tools in understanding and caring for the country’s rich heritage.

The conference in Stirling was organised by the Scottish Council on Archives and supported by the National Records of Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland and the Built Environment Forum Scotland.

Why Archives Matter: Heritage, Memory and Identity was the second in a series of conferences to promote greater awareness of the importance and usefulness of archives to many different sectors, including education, architecture, cultural heritage, archaeology and genealogical research.

John Pelan, director of the Scottish Council of Archives, said: ‘Archives are the documented memory of the nation. They tell our stories, enrich our lives, connect us with the past and give us a sense of identity.

‘Why Archives Matter highlighted some of the many ways in which archives underpin every aspect of society.’

Cabinet Secretary for Culture Fiona Hyslop added: ‘We can properly understand Scotland as it is today by understanding the stories of those who came before us.

‘Archives help keep those stories alive and give us all a real sense of what is was like to live, learn and work through the generations.’

Paul Lowe, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said: ‘Archives and records are vital and relevant to our lives, health and wellbeing and provide a unique insight into the history of people, past and present.

‘National Records of Scotland preserves the primary records for understanding all aspects of the history of Scotland, its people and its government, economy and society, which can inspire and engage communities with their own heritage.’

The first session, ‘Heritage’, showed how archives inform and underpin the work of architects, academics, archaeologists and conservation professionals.

The second session, ‘Memory’, revealed some of the many stories of individual, communities and organisations which are safely stored in the national record while also being widely shared.

The final session, ‘Identity’, examined how archives contribute to our diversity and sense of identity, with particular focus on the changing demographics of Scotland, looking forward to the 2021 census.