Archive Centre update on our Scottish Government funded social enterprise project

The first phase of the Scottish Government funded project, ‘Future Development of the Social Enterprise Collection (Scotland)’, has now come to an end.  The University’s Archive Centre and Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health have been working on the project since November 2018 to preserve and catalogue existing social enterprise collections and carry out research and outreach work to showcase and build on the collections. Although the Archive Centre reading room is closed at the moment and there is no access to the physical collections, we are able to share digital outputs of the project with you.

Twitter logo of white bird on blue background#SocEntCollectionScot

For those who are not familiar with the project our Twitter stream is a good place to start and get an overview of the collection and our work.  We have been regularly tweeting examples of interesting documents from the collection and sharing activities that we have been involved during the first phase.

The Scottish social enterprise webpage lists all the collections held by GCU Archive Centre within the Social Enterprise Collection (Scotland), shortened to SECS.  Titles of the catalogued collections are hyperlinked to the online catalogue where you can browse or search for items of interest. The funding for phase one of the project has increased the number of collections catalogued, such as the Community Business Scotland Network records.  A selection of the collections are represented below and the images hyperlink directly to the catalogues. We digitised examples of key documents from some of the collections and a selection of these can be seen in the Glen Buchanan papers.  Some material was born-digital, like the Open Aye photographs, and we’ve added a selection of these to the catalogue.

Image of a hand-drawn presentation slide mapping out impacts of community business

John Pearce papers, 1973-2010

Image of front cover of CBS Annual Report 1986/87 with strapline 'Community Business works'

Glen Buchanan papers, 1984-91

Photograph of a model spinning wheel with a person spinning on a wheel in the background

Open Aye records, 2009-19









icon representing an audio file

Throughout phase one Dr Gillian Murray, the project’s historian, has travelled across Scotland and interviewed twenty-two people involved in the social enterprise sector.  You can listen to and read transcripts of five of these oral histories from the catalogue of her papers as well as earlier interviews from the CommonHealth project.  We will continue to add oral histories to the catalogue over the coming months.


In an earlier blog post ‘Getting social in the archives’ we discussed some of the outreach work that we have been doing with the collection.  A major part of this was our travelling exhibition, ‘A history of social enterprise in Scotland’, which visited Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Alloa and Inverness .  It was shown at ten events attracting over seven hundred people.

Here’s a selection of images of the exhibition. The project’s records contain these and other documents which reflect the range of our activities.

Image of graphics for 3 exhibition banners showing timeline, text and images of social enterprise related documents

Photograph showing exhibition banners and table next to vintage cars Photograph of a selection of documents relating to social enterprise Photograph of exhibition banners and table of resources with map of the Scottish Highlands and Islands in the background

The centre photograph shows surrogates that we created from the digitised versions of the original key documents. These were taken to events along with duplicates of items to show people examples of material held in the collection.

Photograph of a workshop session with people working round tables and exhibition banners in the background

We developed three workshops during phase one:

• Introduction to SECS for researchers;
• Offering material to the SECS
• Mapping community co-operatives

We delivered five of these workshops attracting twenty-one delegates, including this one for GCU’s Research Day 2019.


We are delighted that funding from the Scottish Government has enabled phase two of the project to begin in May. It will build on the work started in phase one.

  • An online toolkit will be developed to help people in the social enterprise sector realise the importance of their records and to manage and preserve them in a way that will make them archive ready.
  • Digital learning resources will be developed using material from the collections, including reading lists, podcasts and e-books, which will support education for the social enterprise  sector and universities.
  • In light of the current crisis, we have added an additional stream to our work, to capture and preserve the responses of the Scottish social enterprise sector to COVID-19.
  •  We will continue to catalogue existing collections and encourage new donations.


Kirsty Menzies

Project Archivist


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