Saturday, 4 August 2007

National Library and Archives of Scotland


Monday, July 23, was an exciting day because our group attended fascinating lecture/tours at the National Library of Scotland in the morning, and at the National Archives in the afternoon. (Photo shows a hanging sculpture in the library lobby.) And both times we were treated with wonderful Scottish hospitality of tea and biscuits. The big news at the National Library (which takes in about 8,000 items per week!) is that the John Murray Archive has just opened. It features a changing line-up of ''the writers and thinkers of John Murray's publishing firm (who) shaped the modern world through their works of literature, science, exploration, and politics.'' Currently included are Byron, Isabella Bird Bishop, Darwin, Disraeli, David Livingstone, Robert Peel, and Sir Walter Scott. According to our personable guide, senior curator David McClay, one Darwin manuscript in the Murray collection is worth £100,000!


The National Archives of Scotland is undergoing a massive digitization project and is already up to 7 million documents. It is working with the Genealogical Society of Utah. The archives owns records dating back to the 12th century, and its holdings take up 70 km of space! Included are sasines (land registry), Church of Scotland records, Poor Relief registers, and wills and testaments. We saw some very interesting items, including a scroll from the 1400's that first mentions (in Latin) the sale of whisky. I also realized from a 19th century cookery book that a Cox's Orange Pippin refers to the apple variety.

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