|Hamish Henderson with Traveller |
storyteller Alec Stewart in 1958
My work for the project has focused on cataloguing the Scots- and English-language traditional songs in the School of Scottish Studies archive, many of which were collected by the celebrated folklorist Hamish Henderson (1919-2002). The School has well over ten thousand of these song recordings, and they offer important insight into Scotland's traditional song culture. Our website contains many hundreds of recordings of important traditional singers such as Jeannie Robertson, Jimmy MacBeath, Willie Scott and other source singers for the Scottish folk revival, yet there are many fantastic contributions from singers who are much less well-known, but whose recordings are hugely important nonetheless.
I've been singing traditional songs for most of my life, and listening to these tapes has been an enormous privilege. As a Dundonian, I've revelled in the recordings made by Hamish Henderson of Mary Brooksbank (1897-1978), the famous Dundee poet, songwriter and activist. Not only does Mary sing her own songs on these recordings, including her renowned Jute Mill Song, but she describes in detail the events that inspired her to write them. Other of Mary's recordings offer an invaluable first-hand account of the events and circumstances that shaped her life, her beliefs, and her lifelong commitment to social justice. Mary Brooksbank is just one of thousands of people from all across Scotland recorded by the School in the 20th century, and these recordings are important contributions to our collective narrative - our cultural memory.
|Lizzie Higgins of Aberdeen|
If you haven't already visited the Kist o Riches site, you're in for a treat: www.kistoriches.co.uk
All photos copyright of School of Scottish Studies / Kist o Riches; photo of Hamish Henderson and Alec Stewart by Sandy Paton.