The Working Archive

The Working Archive campaign ran from April 2013 to May 2014 and aimed to encourage archives, their users and the public at large to celebrate the heritage of Scotland’s businesses; the records of the products and services they delivered; and the legacy of working Scots of all kinds – whether in business, farming, healthcare, education, the church or government. April 2013 Launch Press Release

The campaign also sought to illuminate how archives themselves work. It was an opportunity to raise awareness of the special role that archivists play in communities, and on behalf of the organisations and users they serve. In short, the campaign celebrated Scotland’s extraordinary ‘working archives’.

These twin strands of the awareness campaign can be summarised as:

Records of Work – discovering archives that evidence the heritage of Scottish businesses and the products and services they deliver, that tell stories about individual working lives and national legacies in the spheres of industry, engineering, agriculture, medicine, religion, education, and countless other sectors.

How Archives Work – finding out about how archivists work, the impact they make on communities, and the services they provide on behalf of businesses, local government, universities, researchers and more.


Exhibition – Scots at Work

A key part of the Working Archive campaign was the Scots at Work exhibition held in the Adam Dome room in General Register House at the National Records of Scotland from Monday 29th April to Friday 21st June.

From Antarctic adventure to tartan, from banking to engineering, and from coal to the world’s best-selling whisky, this exhibition celebrated the diverse heritage of Scotland’s businesses, and their products and services. Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, welcomed the exhibition as a celebration of:

‘the diverse heritage of Scotland’s businesses, and their products and services. Visitors have the chance to see fascinating evidence of the nation’s companies, consumers and employees at home and abroad over hundreds of years.’

Scotland’s working archives provide fascinating evidence of the nation’s companies, consumers and employees at home and abroad over hundreds of years. Six key areas were chosen to represent the lives of Scots at work. They highlighted our precious archival legacy, and the special role that archives play in preserving it for the benefit of all.

  • Distilling and brewing
  • Finance
  • Fishing and agriculture
  • Heavy industry and manufacturing
  • Mining
  • Textiles

This exhibition was created to support the National Strategy for Business Archives in Scotland and the Working Archive campaign by National Records of Scotland, in partnership with the Business Archives Council for Scotland and the Scottish Council on Archives. The help of the following is gratefully acknowledged: Ballast Trust | Diageo Archive | Dundee University Archive, Records Management and Museums Service | Fife Council Archive Centre | Harris Tweed Authority | Lloyds Banking Group Plc Archives | Museum Nan Eilean, Stornoway | National Mining Museum Scotland | The Royal Bank of Scotland Group Archives | Scottish Fisheries Museum | Scottish Screen Archive | Standard Life Company Archives | Tasglann Nan Eilean Sar (Hebridean Archives) | University of Glasgow Archive Services | Western Isles Libraries

Working Archive Blog

As part of the Working Archive awareness campaign we created a blog to share stories of those extraordinary individual working lives. Click through to read the latest tales from business archives collections across Scotland.


We used twitter to promote the campaign and these tweets can been seen under the @BusArchScot account.

Working Archive on Flickr

If your archive was already using Flickr we sugggested tagging your images of Scotland’s working past with the tag “working archive” to them.

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