Today’s blog post comes from Jill Dye, a second-year PhD student at Stirling on a SGSAH-funded Applied Research Collaboration with the University Dundee and the Library of Innerpeffray. Whilst her PhD research focuses on borrowers from the Library of Innerpeffray 1747-1854, Jill has been using the archives at Stirling to research the borrowers from the Leighton Library, Dunblane, as part of the Scottish Universities Research Collections Associate Scheme (SURCAS) Pilot.
How much can we know about ordinary individuals long since deceased? Any search usually starts with parish and census records via one of the many platforms of the thriving genealogy business. Before the first census in 1841, however, the only information you’re likely to find is birth, baptism, marriage and death. While the early censuses record addresses and occupations, such information does not give a particularly good insight into what they were like as an individual, only key places and dates. Any archive that allows us to see more than these simple facts and build a better picture of a person is therefore invaluable.
My research focuses on 18th and 19th century library borrower records, which are particularly rich in historic Perthshire. Whilst my PhD is centred on the borrower records from Innerpeffray, as part of a public outreach project I have recently been focusing on the region’s other incredible borrowing record, that of the Leighton Library at Dunblane, which is housed at the University of Stirling. Borrowing records usually give address and occupation information (far earlier than the census), but more importantly, they show how an individual interacts with the library and the types of books which they were interested in reading. These archives are invaluable not just to academics but to the family or local historian, and yet few know of their existence.
This project aims to highlight the usefulness of this resource to the wider public. The website created from the project explores the borrowings of selected Leighton Library users, using, where possible, local and family history sources to place the records of their borrowing into the wider context of their lives. These individuals range from well-known figures such as the writer John Ramsay of Ochtertyre, to a Minister from St Ninians, a local Surgeon, and even a female visitor to the Dunblane Mineral Springs. In a forthcoming guest post on the website, fellow PhD Student Maxine Branagh-Miscampbell will be commenting on the borrowings of a local student. The site will also eventually include an index of names recorded in the register so that anyone researching local individuals can easily identify whether they appear in the record. The project will culminate in a display of material from the Leighton Archives followed by a short talk, free and open to the public, which will take place at the University Library on Tuesday 28 March. More details on the event are available here.
Opening up the Archive: 50 years of life on campus
University of Stirling Archives
Saturday 18 March 2017
As part of a wide range of events being held across campus as part of Stirling Open Doors the University Archives is throwing open its doors to tell the story of the university’s foundation, growth and development. Come and explore the material we hold documenting the history of the university including our extensive photographic collection and view our new Timeline exhibition.
We are also inviting visitors to share their memories of the university. Bring along your old photographs of the campus and we will digitise them and add them to our collection, preserving further images of life on campus. If you’ve got stories to tell, or memories to share, you can contribute to our Stirling Stories project, which is being organised in collaboration with the School of Arts & Humanities. Students from our Heritage and Film & Media courses will be on hand to interview visitors about their memories of the university, creating a lasting record for the University Archive.
Full details of the University’s Stirling Open Doors Day events can be found at:
We are delighted to present the full programme for Pass it on! Celebrating Scotland’s sporting heritage. The event will bring together experts in the curation, care, use and promotion of sporting heritage to discuss their work and provide details of current projects. The event if free and open to anyone with an interest in sporting heritage. If you would like to attend please contact Ian Mackintosh, Exhibitions Assistant, Hosts & Champions, at firstname.lastname@example.org / tel. 01786 467240
Pass it on! Celebrating Scotland’s sporting heritage
University of Stirling Library
Friday 24 February 2017
10.30: Tea & coffee
10.45: Sporting Heritage Networks
12.00: Unlocking Scotland’s Sporting Heritage #1
- Hosts & Champions project
- Karl Magee, University of Stirling
- Ian Mackintosh, University of Stirling
- Richard Haynes, University of Stirling
13.45: Unlocking Scotland’s Sporting Heritage #2
- Richard McBrearty, Scottish Football Museum
- Rebecca Prentice, British Golf Museum, St Andrews
- Neil Johnson-Symington, Cycling collection, Glasgow Museums
- Paul Brough, Bill McLaren Archive, Hawick Heritage Hub
15.00: Tea & coffee
15.15: Using Scotland’s Sporting Heritage
- Andy Mitchell & John Hutchinson, Independent researchers
- Matthew McDowell, University of Edinburgh
- Chris Wilkins, Sporting Memories Network
16.30: The Future of Scotland’s Sporting Heritage
- Discussion chaired by Richard Haynes, University of Stirling
Throughout the day a small exhibition of material from the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive will be on display in the Archives & Special Collections area.
17.00: Evening social event, Macrobert arts centre
- 17.00 – Drinks reception
- 17.30 – Film screening
- 19.00 – Conference dinner
University of Stirling Library
Friday 24 February 2017, 10am – 5pm
This event, supported by the Sport in Museums Network, will bring together all those with an interest in Scotland’s sporting heritage including its creators (competitors and clubs), curators (archivists, librarians and museum professionals) and users (academics and researchers). A programme of talks, displays and film screenings will examine how our sporting heritage is currently being cared for and celebrated. The event will highlight the huge potential of sporting heritage in areas including education, tourism, sporting participation and reminiscence projects. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss future steps to protect and develop our sporting heritage.
Hugh Dan MacLennan (Sports commentator and Shinty historian)
Richard McBrearty (Scottish Football Museum)
Angela Howe (British Golf Museum, St Andrews)
Chris Wilkins (Sporting Memories Network)
Justine Reilly (Sport in Museums Network)
Richard Haynes (Hosts & Champions, University of Stirling)
The University of Stirling is home to the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive, which documents over 80 years of Scottish sporting participation on the international stage. Following the Glasgow 2014 Games a touring exhibition was developed. Hosts & Champions: Scotland in the Commonwealth Games has visited ten venues across Scotland, travelled hundreds of miles around the country and been seen by thousands of visitors.
The event is free and open to anyone with an interest in sporting heritage.
Please note that there are a limited number of 50 places available for this event.
If you would like to attend please contact Ian Mackintosh, Exhibitions Assistant, Hosts & Champions, at email@example.com / tel. 01786 467240
Well, it’s that time of the year again. Time to tot up our visitor figures and enquiry databases to discover how our collections were used by researchers and find the most popular archives of 2016. For the second year running the collection which has topped our end-of-year chart is the NHS Forth Valley Archive. The collection, which includes the records of Stirling District Asylum (Bellsdyke Hospital) and the Royal Scottish National Hospital, continues to be very popular with family historians, providing a wealth of information on the patients who passed through the Victorian health-care system. In 2016 the records of these local hospitals have also increasingly been used by academics and students across a range of fascinating research projects.
In 2017 the University of Stirling will celebrate its 50th anniversary having opened its doors for the first time on 18 September 1967. The interest in, and preparations for, this important anniversary have resulted in the university’s own archives taking the No. 2 spot. The University Archive holds the official history of the institution in its minute books, reports and publications. It also preserves the unofficial story of life on campus through student newspapers, memorabilia and oral history interviews with retired staff and alumni. We are looking forward to making full use of this material throughout next year’s 50th celebrations!
Our film collections remain incredibly popular with academics, researchers and students. In 2016 the personal and working papers of the director Lindsay Anderson ended the year at No. 3 in our chart. In part this was due to a renewed academic interest in his work sparked by the publication of Lindsay Anderson Revisited: Unknown Aspects of a Film Director (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016). The enduring appeal of films such as If…. and This Sporting Life also brought a number of researchers to Stirling. The collection was also a key resource for our own M Litt Film Studies students who worked on Anderson’s papers during their research placements in the archive.
Outside the archives reading room our Hosts & Champions exhibition continued its tour around Scotland, taking material from our Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive to Stranraer, Kirkintilloch, Eastriggs and Grangemouth. Unique items from our collections were also loaned to exhibitions in places as varied as Montrose, Stirling, Paris and Udine!
We ended the year with the launch of an exciting new project to support the cataloguing and conservation of the Peter Mackay Archive, a collection relating to modern African history which was recently donated to the University of Stirling. A crowdfunding campaign has been launched on the Crowdfunder website:
Help us to reach our target by 24 January 2017!
Those results in full:
- NHS Forth Valley
- University of Stirling
- Lindsay Anderson
- NHS Forth Valley
- Musicians’ Union
- University of Stirling
- Norman McLaren
- NHS Forth Valley
- Commonwealth Games Scotland
The University of Stirling Archives has launched its first crowdfunding campaign to support the cataloguing, conservation and digitisation of the Peter Mackay Archive. Mackay (1926-2013) was a tireless campaigner for African liberation, becoming politically active shortly after emigrating to Rhodesia in 1948. Following his death in Zimbabwe in 2013 the archive was carefully packed up by his family and shipped to the university. Mackay’s family hailed from the town of Doune, near Stirling, and it was his wish that the university become the custodians of his papers.
Working with the university’s fundraising team we have created a campaign for the archive on the Crowdfunder platform. We’ve set a target of £8,000 to be raised over a two month period (closing date 24th January 2017). Depending on the amounts donated supporters can also claim rewards including invitations to launch events, inscriptions on archive boxes and framed photographs from the archive. We hope you can help us in reaching our target! Further details can be found at:
An introduction to the Peter Mackay Archive:
The archive provides a comprehensive record of Mackay’s journalism, political activism, travel, photography and charity work. His journals, notebooks, correspondence and papers preserve a detailed account of his life as a writer and activist.
It includes a large collection of photographs taken by Mackay during his travels around Southern Africa. These images provide a stunning visual record of a continent during a period of great change. The independence struggles across a number of nations are documented alongside scenes from everyday life.
The Peter Mackay Archive is a collection of international importance and has already attracted interest from academics and researchers from around the world. The digitisation of his papers will provide online access to this unique archive of modern African history. We look forward to developing the archive as a major research resource for all students of African history and politics.
Hosts & Champions Open Day
University of Stirling Archives
Friday 30 September
1 – 5 pm
On National Sporting Heritage Day we invite you to celebrate and explore our Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive. We’re opening up the University Archives on the afternoon of Friday 30th September to present a pop-up version of our Hosts & Champions exhibition. Celebrating over 80 years of participation and achievement by Scotland in the Commonwealth Games the exhibition has visited ten venues across Scotland, travelled hundreds of miles around the country and been seen by thousands of visitors since Glasgow 2014.
Members of our Hosts & Champions project team will be on hand to provide further information on the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive and our fascinating personal collections of sporting memorabilia of former competitors and sporting administrators. There will also be an opportunity to view unique home movies of sporting competition from the 1940s to the 1970s that have recently been donated to the archive.
If you’re a researcher thinking of using our collections; a sports administrator interested in finding out more about the value of sporting heritage; a Commonwealth Games athlete, volunteer or baton-bearer; or just have a general interest in the history of sport we’d love to see you on the 30th September!
For further details please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Library has contributed three items of Wallace Monument memorabilia to an exhibition at the Wallace Monument. It is 155 years since the foundations of the Wallace Monument were laid. The Victorian Masterpiece exhibition on the third floor of the Monument contains exhibits which have been crowdsourced from local museums, libraries and private owners. This is what we contributed:
- Sir Walter Scott’s Lady of the lake, 1869 edition bound in mauchline ware, photograph of the Wallace Monument on the front cover. The Wallace monument was completed in 1869.
- A 1930s panorama of views from Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument, published in Stirling by R. S. Shearer.
- William Power’s Wallace Monument: the official guide, published in the 1950s.
To find out more about the Wallace Monument and the exhibition see http://www.nationalwallacemonument.com/the-monument/building-the-monument/
If you visit, remember that it’s on the third floor, reached by a narrow spiral staircase – wear sensible shoes!
Layla Essat is a Masters student in Gender Studies at the University of Stirling. This is the first of a series of articles on her project placement investigating the Stirling District Asylum archive held by the University of Stirling.
Stirling District Lunatic Asylum first opened its doors in 1869. Located in Larbert, many of its patients had been transferred from the large Royal and Private Asylums in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. Like many institutions of the time, the asylum kept extensive handwritten records, logging and chronicling all under their care. These records for a long time remained stored away and inaccessible but have now found a new home in our very own University archive.
Beginning investigation into the records, I was fairly uncertain of what I was going to find. Undertaking this project in relation to my current Gender Studies Masters at Stirling, my only initial guiding focus was to explore the collection with the aim of discovering the situation of women. With the collection as a whole spanning over a hundred years, it was immediately apparent that a large task lay ahead. In response, I refined my focus to the years 1900 – 1910.
Ploughing my way through hundreds of pages of admissions registers, a familiar phrase kept popping up as “supposed cause of insanity.” What was this G.P of the Insane and why was it wholly prevalent in married women and men? Immediately fascinated and I was intent on learning more about the female patients this affected. With a quick input into google, I soon found the gendered relationship of this illness opening up.
General Paresis otherwise known as General Paralysis of the insane was first coined in the 1830s. As the name suggests, records state that patients at the asylum suffered from broad and vague symptoms, including fatigue, headaches and insomnia. Similarly, family members reported changes in personality, concentration and memory was severely impaired. They all suffered from slurred speech and facial and bodily tremors. Most notably, and highly typical of this disease, was the presence of delusions. This disease was syphilis.
The most socially revealing symptom could be seen in the patient’s eyes and was termed Argyll Robertson pupils. Often termed “prostitute’s pupils”, they were large and unreceptive to changes in light. This discovery proved key. From this I speculated a connection between the use of prostitutes by men and the then inevitable transmission of this illness to their wives. The picture suddenly became much bigger and from here, I begin to question who the real victims in this situation were. In an age where a woman’s marital duty was to provide sex, it would prove highly difficult for these women to protect themselves from the inadvertent dangers of commercial sex. Given that symptoms could take up to 20 years to manifest, innocent wives were likely to pay the price of their husband’s pre-marital sexual encounters as well as any current ones. However, my research revealed that perhaps women caught it first- hand. The women in this asylum all came from some of the poorest sections of society. Marriage was often undertaken out of need to ensure financial security and very less often for love. “Casual Prostitutes” were women who engaged in prostitution as a side line to supplement household income, and often pushed to do so by their husbands.
This condition was otherwise termed The Great Imitator for its habit to share its symptoms with many other illnesses. I believe that this issue was far more widespread than it would first appear and suspect that many others with G.P of the Insane simply went misdiagnosed. Given the sheer number of male sufferers observed in the admissions register, I highly doubt that diagnosis of female patients with this condition to be accurate. I encountered several instances where diagnosis was changed upon death. The majority of women I encountered died in the asylum, and of the very few allowed home, prognosis would dictate that they would have died bedbound soon after.
We will perhaps never know the full plight of these women. However, the bottom lines remains; as long as society maintained the notion of a male right and need for satisfaction of sexual energies, the transmission of venereal diseases amongst prostitutes, innocent wives and their philandering husbands would continue. Bluntly, male demand directly facilitated female harm.
Layla Essat, May 2016
This spring one of the treasures of our Archives and Special Collections is setting off on a journey to Paris where it will feature in a major new exhibition on the life of the Emperor Napoleon. The volume is a British military signal book which contained detailed instructions for the garrison guarding Napoleon during his exile on the island of St Helena.
The signal book is a well-travelled volume. It was first used by Colonel Mark Wilks, Governor General of St Helena in 1815. This piece of Napoleonic memorabilia passed through the hands of a number of collectors until it was purchased at auction in New York by the family of Burt Eddy Taylor in 1928. In 1969 Mr Taylor donated his collection of Napoleonic material, including the signal book, to the new university library at Stirling. Now, in 2016 it sets sail again, for the Musée de l’Armée in Paris.
The signal book will feature in Napoléon à Sainte-Hélène. La Conquête de la Mémoire, a major new exhibition looking at Napoleon’s period of exile on the mid-Atlantic island which opens on 6 April 2016. Our small, scruffy volume will take its place alongside an extensive range of items from collections across Europe which have been brought together to tell the story of Napoleon’s captivity on St Helena.
The signal book highlights the lengths the to which the British went to ensure Napoleon did not escape from the island. The inside covers illustrate the flags and signals which were to be used for communication including those for raising the alarm if Napoleon was missing. To limit the chance of rescue by his supporters a garrison of 1,300 troops was placed on the tiny island. In addition four Royal Navy ships patrolled offshore. Within the pages of the book further detailed instructions were laid out in the event of Napoleon’s absence:
‘the Signal Officers of the different posts are strictly enjoined to lose no time in communicating the intelligence personally to the places nearest them where troops may be stationed to the end that patroles may be immediately sent out in every direction to insure the impracticability of any person escaping from the island.’
The procedures put in place evidently worked. Napoleon remained on the island until his death in May 1821.
Napoléon à Sainte-Hélène. La Conquête de la Mémoire
Musée de l’Armée, Paris
6th April – 24th July 2016