As people across Scotland adjust to a significant lifting of restrictions over the coming weeks, the Workers’ Stories Project team is looking ahead to the future. When we established the project in May of 2020 we had no idea what kind of response we would get, how many submissions we would receive, or how long lockdown restrictions would last. Now with the return to something often described – perhaps problematically – as ‘normal’, we have decided to bring the submissions process to an end while we work towards archiving Workers’ Stories for generations to come.
So far, the Workers Stories Project has been the only Scottish attempt to record the stories and experiences of workers on their own terms during COVID-19. The submissions we have received over the past 18 months are hugely significant, and represent a real working-class history of the pandemic in Scotland. These stories are critical to how this crisis will be analysed and researched in the future. We are now working directly with archivists at the National Library of Scotland to donate the archive of Workers’ Stories to their permanent collection. Heidi Egginton, Curator of Political Collections & Archives of Art and Artists at the National Library comments:
“We are thrilled that the Workers’ Stories Project team have chosen the National Library of Scotland as the home for this rich and unique archive of material. The submissions collected as part of the project will make a significant addition to our Scottish labour history manuscript and moving image collections, which include some of the country’s oldest surviving records of trade unions, co-operative societies, workers’ educational organisations, and labour activism.
The Workers’ Stories Project’s capacious definition of ‘labour’ will extend the national collection into new areas of contemporary working life, including the testimonies of remote and furloughed workers, as well as of those who took on new roles as home schoolers and care workers during the pandemic. It captures valuable personal perspectives on forms of work with complex histories which have previously been less visible in the archives, including creative, precarious, emotional, and domestic labour. The archive will be of interest not only to labour historians, but to all those curious about the changes – the quiet adjustments, as well as the dramatic shifts – to work in different fields for people across Scotland during the Covid-19 crisis.
We will look forward to collaborating with the project team to preserve and present this important record of Scots’ everyday working lives during this unprecedented period in our history.”
The Workers’ Stories Project team are looking forward to getting started with the archiving process, and would like to thank everyone at the NLS for their support, guidance and encouragement with the project from the very start. But before we move on to these exciting next steps we want to draw attention to our final call to submit to the project. Perhaps you kept a diary of your experiences, started a blog, filmed your work and homelife, or explored your experiences through painting or drawing? Maybe you attended one of the Workers’ Stories creative workshops back in April and made a collage, recorded an oral history with colleagues, or edited videophone footage from your life in lockdown? If this sounds like you, there’s still time to contribute to the project and be part of a workers’ history of the pandemic. If you’d like to be a part of this archive please send any final submissions or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org by the 31st of August, after which the submissions will formally close.
We would like to extend our heartfelt thanks to each and every person who’s been part of Workers’ Stories; all who have submitted stories, who have attended our workshops and events, who have supported our crowdfunder, and all who have shared their skills, knowledge, time, and energy over the past 18 months. Here’s to the next chapter!
The Workers’ Stories Project team.