Memories Scotland is the latest development of a Scotland-wide project connecting heritage resources with reminiscence activity. As a digital archive for Scotland’s growing network of Memory Groups, this website hosts historical images, artefacts, film and audio which are used to aid reminiscence and prompt conversation during facilitated sessions. In 2021, the archive was significantly expanded with the addition of a wealth of local studies resources thanks to a new partnership with Scotland’s libraries. Featuring a huge variety of digital content spanning the themes of Working Life and Social Life, the Memories Scotland archive now showcases library collections on life in the 20th century (and beyond). By connecting new audiences with this rich social history archive of everyday life in Scotland, Memories Scotland showcases libraries’ vital role in maintaining and improving community health and wellbeing.
For this project, therefore, history isn’t an academic exercise. Memories Scotland uses sports and social history to prompt reminiscence – a proven method of improving quality of life among people living with dementia and other forms of memory loss. The benefits of reminiscence, however, extend further still. When we find resonance, inspiration or even contrast in past lives, it can encourage us to share stories from our own. Anyone can experience the therapeutic benefits of this collective storytelling. In sharing experiences or recollections, both participants and facilitators of Memory Groups report a range of positive outcomes. These include anything from connecting with others and feeling less alone to renewed self-esteem and increased confidence. For some participants, attending a Memory Group may just mean enjoying a cup of tea and a catchup. For others, it could be an opportunity to share knowledge of the local area and how it has changed – or to listen and enjoy learning something of that same history. As well as being dementia-friendly, Memory Groups are therefore inclusive and open to all. No matter who we are or where we come from, Memories Scotland provides both the forum and resources for participants to make connections with the past, themselves and each other.