Treasure Hunting in the Archives

Since starting The Ageing of British Gerontology project in July 2015, the three of us (Mim, Mo and Jackie) have spent much of our time with our heads buried in the British Society of Gerontology archives at the Centre for Policy on Ageing! We’re also fortunate to be able to access Mim’s personal archives, accumulated since 1982 when she first began working in the field of Gerontology. We began our archival research by focusing on the BSG Conference programmes, dating back to 1971. These proved to be a rich and interesting source in highlighting progress in British Gerontology. Having all attended numerous BSG Conferences over the years it was fascinating to take an in-depth look at their development. Even the conference titles themselves offer thematic insights: the strongest overall theme that we see in the conference titles is one of change over time. Here’s a ‘Wordle’ featuring conference titles from 1971 to 2015Titled conferences wordle 6As well as tracking such things as the costs of conferences, number of attendees, number of papers, conference sponsors and exhibitors and so on over the years (and taking lots of photographs!), perhaps the most fruitful line of our research has been in analysing the key themes that have featured year-by-year in the papers and (in more recent years) the symposia. This has enabled us to develop a narrative of the developments, focusing on a decade at a time. Alongside this work, we’ve been constructing a timeline of key policy developments, and undertaking a literature review.

As we now enter the rather exciting phase of interviewing the key contributors to the development of British Gerontology (whose names have appeared so regularly in the conference programmes!), it will be fascinating to link people’s recollections and personal stories to the wealth of information that we have gathered so far.

Please note: we’ll be presenting the findings of the archival stage of the research at the BSG Conference in Stirling in July, in a paper session and as an electronic exhibition if you’d like to find out more!

The Ageing of British Gerontology is a two-year Leverhulme-funded project, led by Prof. Miriam Bernard and Prof. Mo Ray and supported by the British Society of Gerontology and the Centre for Policy on Ageing. It is an oral and socio-cultural history of the evolution of the increasingly important inter- and multidisciplinary field of gerontology.

For further details visit:

You can also follow us on Twitter: @ABGResearch





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