University of Stirling Archives

An Awfully Big Adventure! Books for Boys and Girls


We are delighted to be hosting an exhibition of children’s literature from the Library of Innerpeffray, Perthshire. You can see a selection of 19th century books in the stairwell of the University Library.

The Library of Innerpeffray holds books from the 16th century onwards on a wide variety of topics. The borrowing registers reveal a wealth of information about the people who used the library.

Several of the books on display were borrowed by four sisters between 1898 and 1906. We know that the Haxton family lived at Millearne, near Innerpeffray, and that father David was a coachman. Daughters Mary, Sarah, Christina and Jessie all used the library, with one or both parents accompanying them. The children borrowed regularly. The same book was never borrowed twice, so it seems likely that the children took it in turns to read each other’s books.

James Durward’s borrowed books are also on display. Born in 1868 to the Head Gardener at Millearne House, James borrowed 60 books between the ages of 10 and 15.

Victorian children’s books were designed to appeal separately to boys and girls.  The boys’ books featured tales of adventure and mystery, as well as accounts of famous men.

By contrast, the girls’ books featured ‘suitable’ stories about girls (for example, Louisa M. Alcott’s Little Women) and a series called The Girl’s Own Library.

The Innerpeffray borrowing registers reveal that, despite attempts to direct children to books for their own gender, girls often borrowed the boys’ books.


Helen Beardsley

Academic Liaison Librarian

Tait and Watson Book Collections

Will you need to consult books from the Tait and Watson Collections over the next few weeks?

The Library will soon be upgrading two of its closed access storage areas.

From 27th November to 20th December, we will not be able to access books in the Tait and Watson Collections. If you want to access books in these collections,  let us know by Monday 26thNovember at the latest, so that we can retrieve stock before it goes into storage.

Only books in the Tait and Watson collections are affected – pamphlets, newspapers and archival material will continue to be available.


Helen Beardsley

Academic Liaison Librarian

National Sporting Heritage Day 2018

Sporting Heritage Fair

Leith Victoria Athletic Club

28 Academy Street, Edinburgh, EH6 7EF

Sunday 30 September 2018

2pm to 5pm

The University of Stirling’s Hosts & Champions team are celebrating this year’s National Sporting Heritage Day with a pop-up event at Leith Victoria Athletic Club, Scotland’s oldest boxing club which will celebrate its centenary in 2019. Our sporting heritage fair will focus on boxing at the Commonwealth Games and will celebrate the long and distinguished contribution of members of Leith Victoria to the competition.

Jackie Brown (Leith Victoria Athletic Club) winning Gold in the Flyweight competition at the 1958 Cardiff Commonwealth Games.

Material from the University of Stirling’s Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive will be on display, including a gallery of images illustrating the history of Scottish boxing at the competition. Members of Leith Victoria and the wider Scottish boxing community are invited to visit the event and share their memories of competition. Visitors are also invited to bring bring their own boxing memorabilia, including photographs, which will be digitised at the event by our Hosts & Champions team and added to the archive at Stirling.

Team Scotland badge from the 1958 Commonwealth Games, held in Cardiff.

Sporting Heritage in partnership with the Art Fund, are proud to support community sporting heritage activity across the UK through a programme of locally focused projects in celebration of National Sporting Heritage Day. Follow the action at #NSHD2018.

Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive project

My name is Curstaidh and I am a Master’s degree student pursuing an MSc in Archives and Record Management. Every now and then in an archive, you find an item that is so fascinating and transportive that before you know it, the motion-detector lights have gone off and your stomach is rumbling loudly in protest at its late lunchtime. Three weeks ago, I found such an item.

Despite the thick straggly strands of the mop that’s on top of his head, you can still see Peter Heatly’s broad smile beaming out at the camera. He is dressed up as a stowaway on board the Tamaroa, the ship which transported members of the Scottish and English Teams to Auckland for the 1950 British Empire Games. It’s no wonder that passengers had to dream up ways to amuse themselves – the ship left Southampton on the 16th of December 1949 and, apart from a quick stop on Curaçao off the coast of Venezuela, didn’t see land until arrival in Auckland on the 21st of January 1950.

Page from photograph album recording the journey to the 1950 Commonwealth Games in New Zealand (ref. PH/2/4/4/1).

The journey is documented in a photo album compiled by Peter Heatly, complete with captions, certificates and the ship’s farewell dinner menu. Who knows if the man in the photograph knew that he was sailing towards his first Gold Commonwealth medal, that he would go on to become one of Team Scotland’s most decorated athletes, that he would hold almost every managerial position available within the Commonwealth Games Framework all the way up to Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation? That indeed he would become Sir Peter Heatly? It is material such as this photograph album that encapsulates the value that personal papers add to an archive collection. We catch a glimpse of the person before the medals and titles and then we get to follow their lives through the items that passed by their own hands – personal letters, souvenirs, collectables and committee papers.

Heatly’s personal papers are one of three recent additions to the University of Stirling’s Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive. The bulk of this archive is made up of material deposited by the Commonwealth Games Scotland office, but the personal papers of Heatly, Willie Carmichael and Douglas Brown will allow researchers to gain a unique insight into the processes and politics of preparing for each of the Commonwealth Games.

Memorabilia from the Willie Carmichael Archive.

For the last two months I have been building on the extensive work carried out by the University Library’s Exhibitions Assistant Ian on the collections of Sir Peter Heatly and Willie Carmichael. Together we have provided descriptions for all of the items and designed a system of arrangement to make it as easy as possible for users to navigate the two collections. It has been a source of great pride to discover, through Heatly and Carmichael, the important role that Scotland has played in the Commonwealth Games. Not only is Scotland one of just five countries that have participated in each Games since the first in 1930, but she has also hosted them 3 times (Edinburgh 1970, 1986 and Glasgow 2014) and was the host of the very first Commonwealth Youth Games (Edinburgh 2000). Although Carmichael and Heatly’s collections span a large timeframe, their combined material serves as a particularly rich resource for the 1970 and 1986 Games. Both were heavily involved in the organising of Edinburgh 1970, with Carmichael serving as the Director of Organisation, and Heatly served as the Chairman of Edinburgh 1986, before overseeing the organisation from afar in his role as Chairman of the Commonwealth Games Federation 1982-1990. Those who remember the successes of 1970 and the controversies of 1986 will no doubt be curious to get an insider’s perspective on the build-up and aftermath of each Games.

With Scotland not long home from Gold Coast 2018, their most successful away Games ever, it is the perfect time to come and have a look at the rich history that the Commonwealth Games Scotland Archive has to offer.

Curstaidh Reid is currently completing MSc in Archives and Record Management at the University of Glasgow. In June and July 2018 she worked on a project at the University of Stirling Archives to catalogue the personal papers of Sir Peter Heatly and Willie Carmichael.

Athletes pictured at the closing ceremony of the 1970 Edinburgh Commonwealth Games.

Continuity of care: the William Simpson’s Asylum Archive

In early 2014 the University Archives was contacted by William Simpsons, a care home in Plean which provides residential care along with respite and day care facilities. William Simpsons has been providing care at this site for almost two hundred years, originally opening in 1832 as the William Simpson’s Asylum, an institution which provided care and support for former soldiers and sailors.

Building work had unearthed a collection of historical material consisting of four large metal trunks of documents and 38 volumes and ledgers. Upon inspection the material revealed itself as a comprehensive collection of nineteenth century records which provide a detailed account of the management and administration of both the William Simpson’s Asylum and the surrounding Plean Estate. The material complimented the historical records of NHS Forth Valley, held in the University Archives and it was transferred to the University Of Stirling.

Metal trunk, containing bundles of 19th century documents relating to William Simpson’s Asylum and the Plean Estate.

Volume recording ‘note of furnishing clothes to men’ from 1857 which included pressed leaf between pages.

Today we are engaged in an exciting project which is opening up the collection for the first time. This work follows an initial survey of the material carried out with the support of the Wellcome Trust in 2016 which highlighted the value of the collection for the study of both medical and local history. The survey also revealed links between the William Simpson’s Asylum and Stirling District Asylum, with evidence being discovered of regular contact between the two institutions.

With the assistance of a team of student volunteers we are cleaning, flattening and repacking the thousands of nineteenth century documents which are crammed, in tightly packed bundles, into the four metal trunks. The contents of these trunks were examined as part of the Wellcome Trust survey which has provided us with a useful overview of the range of material present.

A bundle of papers being cleaned. Smoke sponges are used to remove dirt and dust from the documents – note the difference in the sponges before (left) and after (right) cleaning.

Our current project will enable these documents to be used by researchers in our archives reading room, while the unpacking of the bundles will allow more detailed cataloguing of their contents which will provide further information on the collection.

The project has already revealed some interesting material, including the following documents:

Extract from ‘Descriptive list of inmates of Wm. Simpsons Asylum, ordered by Sir Thos. Livingstone to be prepared for the House Governor for the inspection of Trustees at their meeting in November 1837.’

This list provides a detailed account of the first ‘inmates’ of the asylum, recording their names, ages, place of birth, army service and trade. Additional remarks on their character and behaviour are also recorded as are details of burials for patients who died in the asylum.

House Regulations of William Simpson’s Asylum, as revised November 1855.

This document is one of a set of regularly revised and updated versions of the House Regulations, which would have been prominently displayed in the asylum. The 1855 version stretches to 13 rules governing all aspects of life in the asylum. Smoking was ‘not allowed within the House.’ However, ‘one bottle of beer will be allowed to each man for two days – that is, half a bottle to each per day.’

For further information and updates on this project please contact the University Archives.

Patrick McGrath, Doctor of the University of Stirling

On a sunny afternoon in June the University Of Stirling presented the writer Patrick McGrath with an honorary degree in recognition of his outstanding support for research and learning at Stirling. In 2015 Patrick deposited his literary papers with the University Archives, a fantastic resource for researchers of contemporary fiction, and in particular the students of the university’s MLitt course on The Gothic Imagination.

Patrick McGrath with his Honorary Degree, University of Stirling, 27 June 2018

The University Archives was delighted to welcome Patrick on the morning of his graduation and show him how his papers are being cared for at the university, the visit captured in this lovely video.

Later, at the afternoon’s graduation ceremony Patrick’s laureation was given by our University Archivist, Karl Magee. The speech, reproduced below, provides further information on Patrick’s work as an acclaimed novelist and the importance of his literary archive:

Laureation presenting Patrick McGrath for the award of Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University Of Stirling (28 June 2018):

Chancellor, Principal, Members of the University, Graduands, Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is an honour to introduce Patrick McGrath today, a critically acclaimed novelist whose work consistently stages and interrogates both psychopathology and psychiatry. His novels include The Grotesque, Spider and Asylum. His most recent novel The Wardrobe Mistress was published last year. Patrick grew up in the grounds of Broadmoor Hospital where his father was the medical superintendent. Well-versed in theories of psychiatry and psychoanalysis Patrick’s works are often narrated by psychiatrists, or those suffering from mental ill health themselves. He is a writer who is fascinated by the human mind and by those spaces where both trauma and healing may take place such as the institutionalized asylum, the analyst’s office, or even the family home.

In 2015 Patrick deposited his literary archive with the University of Stirling Archives. The University runs a highly regarded MLitt course on ‘The Gothic Imagination’ which teaches his work and Patrick was keen for his archive to go to an institution where the material would be of direct benefit to academics and students.

The archive provides a comprehensive record of the author’s creative process from rough writing notebooks, to early drafts of novels, to proofs and published editions and on through promotional material, press cuttings of reviews, correspondence with publishers and material relating to film adaptations of his work. The collection will continue to grow as Patrick is committed to continuing his relationship with the University of Stirling. Indeed the manuscripts and drafts of his most recent novel have already been transferred to the archive.

The deposit by Patrick of his literary archive with the University is an act of great generosity and commitment to academic research. In doing so Patrick has chosen to support a university which teaches Gothic fiction – the critical field in which his work is often read and considered – at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Over the last few years our students have gained a unique opportunity to work with the archives of a contemporary writer. They have assisted the archives team in the sorting, arrangement and cataloguing of the collection, with a number of students going on to use the archive as the subject of their academic research. Throughout this process the University Archives has benefited from Patrick’s continued support and engagement, creating a stimulating research environment for everyone involved in the project.

This award of an Honorary Degree recognises Patrick’s support for the inclusive and ambitious academic aims of the University of Stirling. He is a writer whose outlook particularly suits Stirling’s principles and goals as he strives endlessly to understand the human mind and the human condition. This is evident in his many meditations upon Broadmoor Hospital in London, this work complementing our NHS Forth Valley Archive which includes the historical records of a number of local institutions including the old Stirling District Asylum.

Patrick’s work is of global importance, as can be seen in the international editions of his work which have been translated into many languages present in the collection, and his standing amongst contemporary critics of Gothic literature is of the very highest calibre.

Patrick’s mother Helen dreamed of opening a bookshop in Stirling. While she never fulfilled this dream I am delighted that we have welcomed her son to the city to formally recognise his most generous gift to the university.

In the name and by the authority of the Academic Council, I present to you for the Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University, Patrick McGrath.

Patrick McGrath being awarded his Honorary Degree by James Naughtie, Chancellor of the University of Stirling.


Pages from the Patrick McGrath Archive, University of Stirling.

The last few weeks in the life of a Wikipedian-In-Residence

For the last three months, I have been a Wikipedian-In-Residence at the University of Stirling Archives. The last few weeks of the project have flown in, and I have been continuing to edit and create new articles for the collections in the archive.

In the last few weeks, my focus has been on Sam Black, Peter Mackay and the William Simpson Asylum which each now have an article on Wikipedia dedicated to them. The Peter Heatly and Norman McLaren articles had time dedicated to adding more information to them as well.

I have been uploading images from the Peter Mackay Collection on to Wikimedia Commons, it has been fascinating looking through the photos of Peter’s life in Africa, and I hope other people will enjoy looking at them as well. I also uploaded images from the University of Stirling Collection, an image of Forsyth Hardy and some images for Howietoun Fishery.

I worked on a #DYK (Did You Know) on Twitter to show the wonderful programs from the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) that the archive holds, but also give some interesting facts about the EIFF.

It has been a wonderful experience working with the archive, I have enjoyed learning how to add articles to Wikipedia and hope to continue to add or edit pages in the future.

Lucy Rodger is completing a Masters in Environment, Heritage and Policy at the University of Stirling.

Wikipedia project: month 2

Another four weeks in the life of a Wikipedian-in-residence…

For three months there will be a new addition to the University of Stirling Archives, a Wikipedian-In-Residence. The second month went just as quickly as the first; I have been editing and creating new articles for the collections in the archive.

In the second month, my focus has been driven by how many people view certain collections on the archive website. The Royal Scottish National Hospital, Forsyth Hardy and Howietoun Fishery now have an article on Wikipedia dedicated to them. Lindsay Anderson, Innerpeffray Library and the Musicians Union have all had time dedicated to adding more information to their Wiki articles.

I attended a Wiki training course on the 24th of May, and while there I edited the pages of two Scottish suffragettes Arabella Scott and Ethel Moorhead.

It is scary how quickly the weeks have flown in; however, in my last few weeks, I will be focusing on Sam Black, Peter Mackay and the William Simpson Asylum.

Lucy Rodger is completing a Masters in Environment, Heritage and Policy at the University of Stirling, her residency will run until the end of June 2018.

Wikipedia project: month 1

For three months there will be a new addition to the University of Stirling Archives, a Wikipedian-In-Residence. The first month has flown in already, but articles on Wikipedia have already benefitted from a little dose of information from the archives. It has been an interesting project to undertake due to the range of collections that the archive holds. Although it is one of my goals to transfer some of the knowledge from the archive to Wikipedia, another goal will be to interest the public to come and view our collections themselves.

In the first month, my focus has been driven by how many people view certain collections on the archive website. The Leighton Library, Robert Haldane and John Grierson articles on Wikipedia have all had time dedicated to them, with the addition of a new Wikipedia article on the Stirling District Lunatic Asylum or Bellsdyke as it was later known.

There was also time to visit the Leighton Library and take some internal shots of the first purpose-built library in Scotland, if you want to see the inside for yourself you can pop in Monday-Saturday 11am-1pm.

Photograph of the interior of the Leighton Library

The next month‘s focus will be on the Peter Mackay collection, as well as the Royal Scottish National Hospital, Sam Back and Howietoun Fishery. A lovely range of collections to keep me occupied.

Lucy Rodger is completing a Masters in Environment, Heritage and Policy at the University of Stirling, her residency will run until the end of June 2018.

Archivist, temporary contract (8 weeks)

Information Services
Library and Archives Research Support

Grade 6, Point 24
Temporary Appointment for 8 weeks
4 June – 27 July 2018

An opportunity has arisen at the University Of Stirling Archives for a recently qualified archivist to work on a short-term project preparing a number of personal paper collections for a larger project which will catalogue our Commonwealth Games related collections.

The collections relate to three individuals with a long association with Commonwealth sport:

• Sir Peter Heatly (1924-2015), winner of gold medals for diving at three consecutive Commonwealth Games in the 1950s, Vice Chair of the 1970 Edinburgh Games and Chair of the Commonwealth Games Federation from 1982-1990
• Willie Carmichael (1905-1988), Manager of the Scottish Team in 1938, Chair of Commonwealth Games Scotland from 1950-55, and Director of the 1970 Edinburgh Games
• Douglas Brown (1940-2016), Honorary Secretary of Commonwealth Games Scotland from 1999-2011 and a major figure in Scottish Swimming.

The University of Stirling Archives holds an extensive collection of material relating to the Commonwealth Games including the administrative records of Commonwealth Games Scotland. The University Archives has created a system of arrangement for our Commonwealth Games related collections which is to be applied to the above personal collections in advance of future cataloguing of the material.

The main duties of this short-term contract include:

• Preliminary sorting and arrangement of the above personal paper collections
• Further sorting of Commonwealth Games-related material in these collections into sub-series of records
• Checking and correcting draft Excel lists for Sir Peter Heatly and Willie Carmichael collections
• Updating the box list for the Douglas Brown collection, providing further information on its contents

Job specification:


• Postgraduate qualification in archival studies or equivalent
• Previous practical experience working in an archive service (including volunteering)


• Knowledge of / interest in the history of sport
• Knowledge of international archive cataloguing standards
• Experience of using CALM for Archives cataloguing system
• Registered member of the Archives and Records Association


Please send an up-to-date CV with a covering letter explaining your interest in the post to Karl Magee, University Archivist at

Please use the subject heading CG Archive application in your email.

Closing date for applications is Monday 14 May 2018.

Interviews will be held on the afternoon of Thursday 17 May 2018.