Tuesday 5 December 2023

Snowy Pictures and Sweaty Men

 What is more Christmassy than a snowy picture? We have many lovely examples in the photographic archive, some of which can be seen below. If you fancy making an Orcadian themed Christmas greeting or would like a print made of your favourite then do contact us and make us an offer we can't refuse. (Only kidding, a high resolution scan is £8.50 and an 8 x 6" photographic print will set you back £8.80. Some larger prints are available but will run out fast!)

Kirkwall images are by Tom Kent and Stromness images were taken by Robert H Robertson.

Alternatively, if snowy winter wonderlands fill you with disgust and you wish to adorn your walls and emails with images of sweaty, Orcadian men fighting over a ball, then perhaps some of these may tickle your fancy:

You can click on the galleries to enlarge them. 

Monday 27 November 2023

Accreditation Joy!!


You may remember us tooting upon our own trumpets a few years ago dear readers when we were first given accredited archive status? Well please excuse us as we parp upon the brass again as we have recently been re-assessed and re-accredited, hooray!!

Archive Accreditation is the UK quality standard which recognises good performance in all areas of archive service delivery, and achieving this Accredited Status demonstrates that Orkney Archive has met clearly defined national standards relating to management and resourcing, collections care and meeting the needs of all stakeholders.

For more information on Archive Accreditation see Archive Service Accreditation - Archives sector (nationalarchives.gov.uk)

Orkney Archive first received Accredited Status in 2017 and all accredited archive services must apply for accreditation six years after the initial reward to retain their accredited status.

By achieving accreditation for the second time, Orkney Archive have been able to demonstrate their commitment to continuing development of the archive service and effective management of change.

The Accreditation panel which made the award commended the archive service on its  

"really impressive engagement activity and its strong understanding of the island communities it serves. There is a responsive and positive approach to engagement work and also to developing digital capacity."

 The award gives recognition to the enormous hard work carried out daily by all the Orkney Archive staff, and helps informs the service priorities over the coming few years.

Join us do as we dance around the archives singing the Record Breakers theme tune and playing our (imaginary) trumpets.



Accredita-tion, that's what you need!


Saturday 9 September 2023

Doors Open 2023

Bessie Grieve, AKA 'Countrywoman'

 We have been working hard at digitising our wonderful sound archive to make it more accessible and to back up our vast collection of tapes and reel to reels.

As part of Doors Open 2023, we have made a short presentation to illustrate the breadth of our collection...

Saturday 19 August 2023

Royal Visits to Orkney

For the Orkney Vintage Rally this year, I was asked to create an exhibition of Archive photographs of Royal Visits to Orkney. The photos I chose to show are just a tiny proportion of the images we have collected over the years and they are not all the usual faces... I hope you enjoy them. 






Our favourite photo of Queen Elizabeth, laughing at Prince Philip trying to drive the school bus. 


Our new favourite photo of Prince (now King) Charles with some adoring fans.



Monday 10 July 2023

Update to Sketch Map!


Orkney Archive Reference D2/7/3 - Undated sketch chart for soundings at Stromness Harbour 


We've had some thoughts about the above map sent in by an instagram follower:

Compare it to Murdoch MacKenzie’s map  of Pomona or main-land dated at 1750 – by the NLS  (https://maps.nls.uk/coasts/chart/4143)

Date: 1750.  



 And Greenvile Collins and  Herman Moll The Islands of Orkney   1693? https://maps.nls.uk/coasts/chart/182



Look at the depth markings – they are pretty much identical for the MacKenzie map but deeper than the Collins and Moll. Also,  the shading (for shallows, I guess) off the northeast tip of Graemsay is identical.


So at a guess, your new old map is either drawn from the Murdoch map or is something that Murdoch used – i.e. c. 1750 maybe a few years earlier?


Thursday 29 June 2023

Sketch Map of Stromness Harbour

 Well. This is just extremely pleasing... (click to enlarge)

Orkney Archive Reference D2/7/3 - Undated sketch chart for soundings at Stromness Harbour 

Monday 5 June 2023

Hoorah for Volunteers!


It is volunteers week and this gives us a chance to celebrate our wonderful band of helpers without whom, the archives would be so much poorer.

The Orkney Archive is heaving at the seams with historical data and yet a collections catalogue and dewey decimal sorted photographic archive can sometimes only scratch the surface for a researcher. The archive staff only really have time to give an idea of what a document can contain. It takes time, lots and lots of time, to really squeeze all the infomation out of each document.

This is where our volunteers step in.

For example: many of our visitors are looking for information about parents, grandparents or other relatives who spent part of their military service in Orkney. We do not hold any war diaries or individual military records (these are held at the National Archives), but we do have issues of the Orkney Blast which detail engagements, sporting events and other little mentions of folk, some snap shots taken of service personnel during their down time, grocery credit lists etc.

So we set up our Service Personel Database, in which our volunteers enter the name, rank and any other information about anyone they find mentioned in items dating from either World War.

Our beautiful Service Personnel Database 

This means that if your great grandfather came third in a darts competition at Ness battery or your granny got engaged at a New Years party at HMS Tern in 1942, then there may be a record of it in our SPD!

Another project which several volunteers are working on is the Photo Index database. This involves entering detailed information about each photo we hold such as people in it, location, objects and date (if we have them). This makes it much easier for visitors to search for individual images as we were restricted to searching by subject matter before.

The exquisite Photo Identification Database

But fear not! It is not all endless databasing - our own Balfour Blogger is a longstanding volunteer who has spent many hours of her life sorting, dating and, more importantly, identifying blogable snippets for us from the enormous Balfour collection:

We have a few volunteers helping to work through this collection.

These are just a few examples of the many projects volunteers have assisted with over the years and we are extremely grateful for all of their hours spent sorting, numbering, transcribing, summarising and compiling.

Our volunteers are not paid but we do make sure to try and feed them tea and cake now and then with coffee morning/afternoons to keep up their strength and to express our gratitude for their diligent work.

Three cheers for volunteers!

Hip, hip, hooray! 

Hip, hip, hooray! 

Hip, hip, hooray!