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Highland Archive Service continues to work through Covid-19 lockdown

By Andrew Dixon

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Senior archivist Fiona MacLeod collating reminiscence packs for care homes.
Senior archivist Fiona MacLeod collating reminiscence packs for care homes.

Highland Archive Service shares how it is working differently to continue serving the community.

As all of our archive centres are temporarily closed due to Covid-19, we are finding new ways to share our collections and support Highland communities through these challenging times.

Since 23rd March we have worked hard to create archive reminiscence packs which we have distributed to 44 Highland care homes.

The resources have also been supplied to Befrienders Highland Memory and Carers Service who will be sharing them with those caring for people at home.

In addition to this we would encourage people with access to a smartphone or tablet to make use of the ‘House of Memories’ app, an app created by the National Museums Liverpool specifically using archive and museum material to prompt memories and conversations.

The Highland Archive Service was proud to be involved in the creation of the Highland content for this along with many museums across the Highlands.

The Highland Archive Centre usually welcomes dozens of school groups and hundreds of pupils during term time.

As we are, of course, currently unable to do this we have instead been broadcasting weekly sessions on our Facebook page (on Thursdays at 11am) looking at different themes using some of the records in our collections and linking to resources on our website.

Community engagement officer Lorna Steele creating content for Facebook teaching sessions.
Community engagement officer Lorna Steele creating content for Facebook teaching sessions.

The first of these looked at the subject of diaries and the many things they can teach us about both ordinary life and extraordinary situations.

As you know, we are in the midst of a global pandemic – people's lives are changing like never before and we are hoping to encourage people living in the Highlands to keep diaries of their daily experiences and the impact the virus restrictions are having on their family/work/life.

When things return to normal we would love to add these diaries to our collections so they can form part of the Highlands' collective memory going forwards.

The second Facebook session looked at the theme of letters and how important they have historically been to keeping peoples’ spirits up during hard time, including WWI and WWII.

We used that session to encourage people to take some time during lockdown to write a letter to someone in their family or community who may be feeling isolated.

Other topics discussed so far include the Jacobites, World Wars One and Two and family history.

Still to come are transport and the Clearances. All these videos can still be viewed on our Facebook page and on the High Life Highland Youtube channel.

In addition to these particular projects we are continuing to respond to archive and family history enquiries as best we can with no current access to the collections.

We will continue to update all four Highland Archive Service social media pages with items from our collections.

Until we can see you in person again we hope you can join us using one of these channels.

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