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Digital storytelling and participatory local heritage through the creation of an online moving image archive: a case-study of Fraserburgh on Film.

Davidson, Andrew; Reid, Peter H.


Andrew Davidson


"Fraserburgh on Film" is an online platform created for the purpose of collating digital heritage film from the communities situated in the corner of North-East Scotland. The research adopted an ethnographic approach working within the community, with James Taylor and other contributors to collect and curate moving images associated with the town. Archival research then supplemented these films. A digital platform was then constructed, tested and launched as the archival repository for the materials collected. The aim of the research was to create a site which could host an archive of moving image associated with the town of Fraserburgh in Scotland, but could also include other digital artefacts to support and enhance the narratives contained within the films. Elements of digital storytelling were utilised and a purposely designed section, 'behind the film', was included within the site which saw stories presented and supported with the use of archive newspaper clippings, photography and a series of reflective audio clips recorded for the research. The research highlights the importance of having a close association with the community in question, and provides details about the creation of the platform, and framing it in the context of a vehicle for digital storytelling and participatory heritage. The article demonstrates how archive film should be gathered, edited and remaster for long-term preservation and access. Practical aspects such as video hosting, searchability, metadata are explored as are subsequent methods of dissemination and engagement. The research highlights a number of practical decisions which must be made when considering similar projects. These include gaining access to the moving images in the first place but also significant infrastructural issues around the creation, organisation and dissemination of an online digital repository. These lessons are transferable to other small community-based cultural and heritage organisations. The archive has been very positively received in the community as an important repository for preserving community heritage and identity. High levels of public engagement have been demonstrated since its launch which have led to new material being discovered. The archive has a wider cultural legacy across the North-East of Scotland because of both the nature of the films and the widespread use of the Doric dialect. The originality lies in the distinctive amount of moving image (and oral history) collected by local historian, James Taylor and his willingness to allow his materials to be edited and repurposed to ensure their long-term survival. The lessons learned in this project are transferable to other locations in terms of both collecting material, the creation of the hosting platform, and in crowd-sourcing background information. The crucial importance of working with community partners in digital heritage work is reinforced. The research affords practical illustrations of steps to be taken and factors to be considered. It demonstrates how a well-crafted digital heritage product can genuinely engage with the community.


DAVIDSON, A. and REID, P.H. [2021]. Digital storytelling and participatory local heritage through the creation of an online moving image archive: a case-study of Fraserburgh on Film. Journal of documentation [online], Early Cite. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 2, 2020
Online Publication Date Jul 7, 2021
Deposit Date Dec 2, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jul 7, 2021
Journal Journal of documentation
Print ISSN 0022-0418
Electronic ISSN 0022-0418
Publisher Emerald
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Digital heritage; Local heritage; Local history; Media archives; Film archives; Scotland; Fraserburgh; Digital archives; Films; Digital storytelling; North East Scotland; Participatory heritage
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