University launches crowd funding page to protect archive

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Photo: Peter Mackay/Stirling University

Stirling University has launched a crowd funding page to archive and catalogue the materials of Peter Mackay.

The page aims to raise £8,000 which will be used to appoint a Project Archivist, who will then help to make the archive available to the university, as well as researchers across the world.

The funds will also enable archivists to re-pack the collection in archival-quality packaging and transfer it to an environmentally-controlled archive store for security and preservation.

Mackay’s family is originally from Doune, just outside Stirling, and it was his wishes that the collection be taken by the University.

Originally born in London in 1926, Mackay enlisted in the British Army, where he became the youngest Major ever to serve in the Brigade of Guards. He left the Army in 1950 to start a new life as a farmer in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe.

Described as strong willed by his peers, Mackay’s growing disdain for white Rhodesians, who he saw as snobs, led to his involvement in the liberation movements of Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Through his time as part of these movements, Mackay helped to funnel hundreds of blacks out of white-ruled Rhodesia. He also organised a conference in 1967 where people of many different ethnic backgrounds signed a document calling for the end to all-white rule in Rhodesia, as well as helping to organise a march through the city of Salisbury, now Harare, attended by 7000 people.

Spending the next 20 years working for liberation, Mackay felt disillusioned with his peers following Zimbabwean independence in 1980, when he believed many in the movement who chose lives of corruption and wealth.

Due to this, he moved to Omay, Zimbabwe, where he helped build clinics, schools and agricultural settlements for the 15,000 pour citizens who lived there.

The collection charts Mackay’s time in the African liberation movement, throughout this time. It includes personal and political papers, as well as photographs and journalistic articles written by Mackay.

The archive has been at the university since 2013, when it arrived from Mackay’s Zimbabwe, where it survived several different break in attempts, home in 28 large crates.

The last 2 years of Mackay’s life were spent bed ridden, partly due to an attack at his home in Zimbabwe by armed robbers in 2007. He died at home in 2013.

Historian Lawrence Vambe said of Mackay: “Peter was a saint. A non-religious saint but a saint nevertheless.”

The crowd funding page is under the name “Help Stirling to protect The Peter Mackay Archive”. It has reached 32% of the required goal, and closes on January 24 at 9am. An interview with Karl Magee, the head archivist at the University, is available on the page.

Magee says that there is an opportunity for students who wish to be archivists to volunteer in order to get experience on the project.

The university’s head of fundraising, Stuart Rennie, told Brig, “A key aim of our project is to make the archive accessible to scholars and students in Africa. This reflects Mackay’s own life-long commitment to liberating and developing his adopted African home.”

When asked about the progress of the campaign, Rennie said: “With two weeks of the campaign left we have raised over £3k, with the promise of more donations to come.  We are confident that the fund is going to reach the £6k target, which will also enable the project to receive an additional £2k from the Heritage Lottery Fund.”

“The ultimate outcome is for the digitised material to be made available through the JSTOR resource Struggles for Freedom, which has been made freely available to over 900 universities and colleges in Africa through JSTOR’s Africa Access initiative.”

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