Background

The British Antarctic Oral History Project (BAOHP) is a collaboration between British Antarctic Survey (BAS), BAS Club, UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) and Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) to capture reminiscences and preserve the memories of those involved in British polar science, with particular focus on those who worked for, or closely with, Operation Tabarin, 1943–45, Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS), 1945–61, and British Antarctic Survey (BAS), 1962–present.

The main collecting phase, between 2009 and March 2014, prioritised the capture of reminiscences of the older generation, maximised the opportunities for collection provided by reunion events and ensured the inclusion of the full range of BAS activities.

Over 280 interviews have been collected so far, and transcription work continues. As interviews become available to the public both the recording and transcription will be added to this site.

Members of the BAOHP team at BAS, Cambridge, 2010. Photographer Chris Gilbert.

Members of the BAOHP team at BAS, Cambridge, 2010. Photographer Chris Gilbert.

Halley Team, 1971

Halley Bay wintering team, 1971.

George Hemmen with interviewer Chris Eldon Lee, 8 Nov 2010. Photographer Margot Hemmen

George Hemmen (right) with interviewer Chris Eldon Lee, 2010. Photographer Margo Hemmen.

Aims

  • To preserve and make accessible the unofficial history of British endeavour in the Antarctic, particularly that of BAS and its predecessors, by recording the reminiscences of former staff and of others closely associated with the Survey.
  • To acquire first-hand accounts of events, activities, background culture, and gain insight into decisions and policy, relationships between organisations and individuals which are unlikely to be represented in the official record held in the archives.
  • To capture an essence of individuals by recording their memories in their own words and/or still or moving images of them in conversation.

History

In 1985 British Antarctic Survey (BAS) Archives Service began an oral history project to preserve the memories of those who had worked for, or closely with, Operation Tabarin, 1943–45, Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey (FIDS), 1945–61, and British Antarctic Survey (BAS), 1962–present.

The project declined after 1988 due to lack of resources but was revived in 2003, when a professional freelance interviewer was employed to undertake most of the recording work.

In March 2009 the British Antarctic Oral History Project (BAOHP) was initiated. It is a collaboration between BAS, BAS Club, UK Antarctic Heritage Trust (UKAHT) and Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI) to capture reminiscences at a greater rate than otherwise was possible. The project arose from an earlier idea proposed to the BAS Club by Gordon Devine.

Funding and Support

Most of the funding has been provided by UKAHT and BAT Government via UKAHT.

British Antarctic Survey Club has directly funded around 10% of the interviews and the overall cost of putting this content online has been jointly funded, in equal proportion by BAS Club and UKAHT.

British Antarctic Survey Archives Service is responsible for ensuring the long-term security and management of the data, held as part of the BAS Archives collection, and provides the necessary specialist expertise and guidance. In addition, it has contributed on average to 3 interviews per year.

We also gratefully acknowledge contributions from:

The project follows standards and guidance issued by the Oral History Society and the British Library Sound Archive.

Project Team

The BAOHP team consists of a mix of paid and volunteer enthusiasts, and the project relies upon the time and effort generously given by the volunteers. The project was led by Amanda Lynnes (UK Antarctic Heritage Trust) from November 2009 until November 2013, and by Joanna Rae (BAS) from April-November 2009.

The project is currently led by the Coordinators, made up of core members of the Project Team and representatives of the partner organisations.

Read more about the Project Team here.

Project Partners