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When was the first time in your career that you made substantial use of archive material?

At university I studied the history of philosophy of law – an incredibly wide-ranging topic. I wrote dissertations on subjects as diverse as the trial of the former SS chief Klaus Barbie in the 1980s, and South Africa’s ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ Commission at the end of apartheid, to the shifting nature of punishment and prisons over thousands of years. It was at this point that the archive bug bit hard. Research can be immersive and all-consuming – and often incredibly frustrating. But there is little to compare with the excitement of those moments when you finally find that elusive piece of archive material: that fragment, say, from a diary you’ve been hunting. You suddenly feel an incredibly intimate connection with the author. They may have been writing hundreds of years ago – but in an instant you are in a direct conversation with them, and with the past. Time compresses and – when you have time to reflect – you are immensely thankful for all of those archives that dedicate their existence to the preservation of the many disparate fragments of our history.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of History Scotland - Nov - Dec 2019
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Enjoy the best research you can't read anywhere else! Highlights include: · The Declaration of Arbroath: a project that is combining documentary and genetic genealogy evidence to tell the stories of those who signed the declaration · 17th-century bandits: We trace the rise and fall of a notorious bandit gang that operated in the eastern highlands during the 1660s · The Eyemouth tragedy:how pressure to go to sea whatever the weather led to one of Scotland’s worst maritime disasters BONUS CONTENT: Glasgow University Slavery Exhibition gallery, Flora MacDonald - migrant and survivor - EXCLUSIVE Belle Jones interview

Other Articles in this Issue

History Scotland
Welcome to the last History Scotland of 2019, packed
Barry Baldwin is Emeritus Professor of Classics at
Archaeologists working on the Tarradale Through Time project have discovered burial mounds that appear to point to the discovery of a large potentially Pictish barrow cemetery, with earlier prehistoric activity
Widely regarded as the finest residential example of
More than 2,000 items documenting the progress of Scottish engineering over the centuries are now accessible through a new map resource launched by National Library of Scotland
Dr Gordon Rintoul CBE, Director, National Museums Scotland, has announced that he will be stepping down in March 2020 after eighteen years in the role
Dr Rosie Waine charts the use of tartan following the repeal of the Act of Proscription, as the plaid was rehabilitated from its earlier associations with rebellion to become a popular and patriotic fashion fabric in Britain
Guthrie Ewing McGruer tells the remarkable tale of his grandfather’s role in the success of the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic, a century ago this summer
The Eyemouth fishing disaster of 1881 took place as a result of a storm of epic proportions, but the weather was not entirely to blame; economic forces were also at work, writes David Wibberley
The devastation caused by the Clydebank blitz in the second world war is an all too familiar tale for those who lived in the town and nearby Glasgow, but what is less well known is how the town coped in the aftermath of the bombing. Paul Hamilton shares the stories of some of those affected
Dr Clarisse Godard Desmarest and Dr Aonghus MacKechnie demonstrate how changing fashions in architecture can be used to trace the national mood and Scotland’s changing political situation within the United Kingdom through the 19th century
As we approach the 700th anniversary of the declaration of Arbroath, Graham S Holton and Alasdair F Macdonald showcase a project that is combining documentary and genetic genealogy evidence to tell the stories of those who signed the declaration and to explore the lives of both their ancestors and descendants
Archaeologists have solved a centuries-old mystery of where the end of a well-preserved medieval tunnel that lies beneath Paisley town centre is located
Dr Allan Kennedy tells the bloody story of one of the most notorious outlaw gangs in 17th-century Scotland, a group whose criminal activities throughout the eastern highlands shocked contemporary observers and earned its leaders lasting infamy
Professor Barry Baldwin takes a sweeping journey through European views of Scotland from the classical period up to the later middle ages, discovering priceless nuggets of information about early Scots in a wide range of Roman and Greek sources, as well as in the colourful musings of a 15th-century pope
In this article based on her History Scotland lecture, delivered in April 2019, Professor Tanja Bueltmann explores Scotland’s long history of global interaction, and considers what this international outlook might mean in the context of Brexit
William B. Black explores the protracted dispute between the war office and its contractor over the construction of a new infantry barracks at Maryhill in the 1870s, showing that the debate over using private expertise in public building projects is by no means a new one
Project cataloguers Lynn Bruce and Olivia Howarth explore the reality for returning ex-servicemen and their families after the Great War through the Scottish World War I Pension Appeal Tribunal Papers, held by National Records of Scotland
History Scotland’s consultant editor, Dr Allan Kennedy, looks at the Meic Uilleims, a family of pretenders to the Scottish throne who, styling themselves champions of Gaelic Scotland, repeatedly challenged the MacMalcolm kings in the late 12th and early 13th centuries
Vol 20.1 Jan/Feb 2020 On sale: 14 Dec 2019
In his latest hidden history tour, Neil McLennan visits the Cabrach in north east Scotland to see the work being done to preserve the unique history of this wild landscape, once a centre for illicit whisky distilling and smuggling
The violent north?
Louise Heren explores a thought-provoking account of how Scottish sex lives have been judged and policed over the last century
Make the most of the winter season with festive events
Sir Walter Scott at Melrose by Joseph Mallord William Turner captures the novelist enjoying an evening picnic overlooking the ruins of Melrose abbey
Friends of Robert Burns Birthplace Museum
As thoughts turn to the coming winter months, Ken Nisbet of the Scottish Genealogy Society offers some suggestions for expanding your family history knowledge
Annie Tindley introduces a volume of letters and papers that tells the story of everyday life for merchants in the early years of free trade between Britain and China, demonstrating what it was like to live and work in the treaty ports during this fast-changing era
Historian, writer and broadcaster James Crawford talks to History Scotland about his new role as 2019-20 ambassador for the Explore Your Archive campaign
Members of the public are invited to react and respond to a new exhibition at the University of Glasgow that features a selection of items with links to slavery – many of which might not at first glance seem to be related to the slave trade