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‘Scotland may be proud’: International opinion of the Scottish National Institution

One interesting item in the Royal Scottish National Hospital collection is the visitor’s book (ref: RS/2/6). In it are recorded the impressions of visiting deputations and individuals. The deputations were usually from Parochial Boards visiting the children they had referred to the Institution but include groups from similar institutions across Britain.

Many of the visitors came from overseas, particularly in the earlier years, and there are comments from Belgium, United States, France, Germany, Norway, Russia and New Zealand.

For example Dr J A Peeters from the Colony Gheel was commissioned by the Belgian government to examine the organisation of the Scottish system of lunacy administration. In July 1892 he wrote (in French but helpfully translated in the book) ‘I have been deeply touched by the care which is lavished upon the children. I hope that Belgium may some day have the glory of possessing an establishment organized in a similarly admirable manner’. In July 1894 William S Manson from Stanford University, California wrote ‘Scotland may be proud of this school and its work’.

Entry by William Manson, 1894

Entry by William Manson, 1894

Also included is a touching note of thanks from a grateful parent in Philadelphia, September 1896:

‘I must record my deep sense of gratitude to Mr and Mrs Skene [the medical superintendent and his wife] in whose charge I left my delicate little girl over a year ago. During her last illness of twenty-one weeks duration she has been nursed day and night and every facility given to one to see her at all times…The Children’s Home is not excelled by any one in England or America’.

It is a fitting tribute to what, for its time, was such a progressive institution that it should be recognised as an example internationally.

Team Scotland Uniforms! – A Tour of Irvine, Trinity Church

After opening our touring Hosts & Champions Exhibition at Trinity Church, Irvine, Jocelyn Grant, one of our Exhibition Assistants, provides a tour highlighting some of the items on display.

After our successful preview and opening last Friday we have received some wonderful feedback from visitors to the exhibition, who have been delighted by some of the items on display, and have started contributing more things! These contributions will no doubt be incorporated and featured in future venues when this exhibition begins to tour round the country. To celebrate this and highlight some of the themes that are currently present in the unique displays for this venue, I am happy to present a small tour of the Team Scotland Uniforms!

Stay tuned for more highlights soon!

Democracy for Scotland: the referendum experience

Last Friday evening a packed Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum celebrated the opening of a new exhibition of material from the University of Stirling’s Scottish Political Archive. Democracy for Scotland: the referendum experience focuses on the campaign for a Scottish Parliament in the second half of the twentieth century. In particular it chronicles the history behind the two devolution referendums of 1979 and 1997 and explores the nature of the Yes and No campaigns for both referendums, their results and the re-establishment of a Scottish Parliament.

Exhibition poster

Exhibition poster

In conjunction with the exhibition the Scottish Political Archive is hosting a series of lectures at the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum on Thursday lunchtimes at 12pm. The full lecture programme is as follows:

3rd May: ‘Scottish literary magazines and devolution’, Linda Gunn

Linda will examine the editorial processes of Cencrastus and The (New) Edinburgh Review.

10th May: ‘Let the People Decide’, Dennis Canavan 

Dennis will give some personal recollections of the Referendum campaigns, the intervening period of 1979-1997 and ask what lessons can be learned from the past to help shape Scotland’s future.

17th May: ‘From 1979 to 2014: Referendum Campaigning and the Future of Scotland’, Peter Lynch

24th May: ‘Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham (1852-1936), Stan Bell, John McIntyre and Willie Thom

A celebration on the 160th birthday of Cunninghame Graham, who first proposed the establishment of a Scottish Parliament in 1888.

31st May: ‘Political Fictions’, James Robertson

James discusses the fictionalising of 20th-century Scottish political history in his novel And the Land Lay Still, and asks why there has been relatively little ‘political’ fiction in Scottish literature.

7th June: ‘The Radical Scotland Project: the making of a magazine’, Kevin Dunion

 Tickets for the lectures are £3 and are available at the Stirling Smith (Tel : 01786 471917). The exhibition runs from 27th April – 10 June 2012.