Our project started on Tuesday this week and we spent a few hours as a team of researchers and then with our project partners the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC) to hash out a plan for the next couple of months.
Our first task is to scope out the SJAC, identify the materials relevant to our project and assess how to digitise these. To assist with this task we are drawing on the expertise of the SJAC’s team of volunteers, staff working in digital humanities at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and, most prominently, our newly appointed Research Associate, Dr Deborah Butcher.
Deborah joins the team with a PhD from London Metropolitan University combining oral history with extensive archival research. She also has a professional background in public and academic librarianship, has worked for within local government in a range of roles, most recently as a Cultural Coordinator for South Lanarkshire council. This unique skillset is vital for the success of our project and we are excited to have Deborah on board.
As we begin a project looking into past migration to Scotland, I am mindful of the current situation faced by migrants seeking access to Europe. It is barely 100 years since the large-scale Jewish migration from poverty, oppression and persecution in Eastern Europe and the arrival of refugees from Nazi-occupied Europe that we are witnessing the plight of millions fleeing desperate situations. We are keen to investigate the impact of migration and flight on those who came to Scotland and on Scottish society since the end of the nineteenth century. We are interested in the details of people’s lives, of their culture, their religion, their values and their contributions to humanity. We are grateful that so much material has been collected and archived to allow us insight into their journeys. It is ironic that this project begins amidst a flow of political pronouncements which appear all too often to forget that the current migrants are people, human beings, with lives just as valuable and in need of protection as those of Europe’s citizens whose families came here a century or more ago.
As we go along our work in the SJAC and as the project develops we will share our progress and exciting finds on this blog. So, please tune in and subscribe to email alerts!