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Betty Willsher

551 22

Description Betty Willsher

Date 1970 to 1999

Collection Betty Willsher

Catalogue Number 551 22

Category All Other

Scope and Content Manuscript material comprises notes on selected gravestones with accompanying photographs and drawings. Manuscripts on the following counties are held within the Collection: Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Ayrshire, Berwickshire and Selkirk, Clackmannanshire, Dumfries, Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, Edinburgh, Fife, Kincardine, Kirkcudbrightshire, Lanark, Midlothian, Moray, Peebles, Perthshire, Roxburghshire, Stirling, West Lothian and Wigtownshire. In addition, a large number of related photographs and slides are held within the Collection. The Collection also contains a small number of photographs taken by R Wylie and N Foster of depictions of the Green Man in British, Irish and Continental sculpture. Willsher has donated a range of books on the subject of graves and graveyards, and these are held in the public search room.

Archive History The Collection has been donated in several instalments, the earliest of which are unaccessioned but catalogued. Initial deposits of photographs, negatives, sketches and notes comprise the bulk of Willsher’s research material. In addition to this, later accessions include a number of books and journals on graveyard studies.

System of Arrangement All material is arranged by graveyard then county. Manuscripts are held in the main store and photographs are integrated to the open access photographic collection. Negatives and slides are hand listed and Willsher’s collection of books and periodicals are stored in the public search room.

Related Material A number of Betty Willsher’s published books are held in RCAHMS’ public search room including Stones: A Guide to Some Remarkable Eighteenth Century Gravestones (1978) Understanding Scottish Graveyards (1985) and Epitaphs and Images from Scottish Graveyards (1996). Willsher’s research material on graveyards in Perthshire, Fife and Angus has been reproduced and bound, and is available in the public search room. The NMRS Stuart Farrell Collection contains a significant number of graveyard surveys. A large collection of digital photographs of Scottish graveyards, primarily in Edinburgh, taken by Robert Reinhardt has recently been acquired.

Access Conditions Access is unrestricted.

Administrative History Betty Willsher was born in a small mining village near Bishop Auckland, County Durham, in 1915. She studied at the University of St Andrews from 1933-36, before completing a one year certificate in nursery education at the Rachel McMillan Nursery School Training College in Deptford, Greater London. During the war, Willsher ran a nursery in Suffolk before returning to St Andrews in 1951 and setting up her own nursery school. In 1965, she completed a part-time Diploma in Education at Dundee and spent time working in residential units for disturbed children in Stratheden Hospital, Fife, and then Vancouver. Willsher taught story-telling, drama and creative units in primary schools for four years before becoming a senior lecturer in child development at Stevenson College. In the 1970s Willsher became interested in the declining state of Scotland’s graveyards, particularly post-reformation stones, and set about recording them for future generations. She made the acquaintance of Kitty Cruft of the NMRS and entered an agreement to survey stones dating up to 1800 in parish graveyards of the Scottish Lowlands on behalf of RCAHMS. She has produced several publications on the subject including: Stones: A Guide to Some Remarkable Eighteenth Century Gravestones (1978); Understanding Scottish Graveyards: An Interpretative Approach (1985); How to Record Scottish Graveyards: A Companion to Understanding Scottish Graveyards (1985); The Green Man in Scotland (1990); and Epitaphs and Images from Scottish Graveyards (1996). These were followed by two books on the social history of St Andrews (2003) and an investigation into her own family history (2005). In 1989 the Association for Gravestone Studies awarded Willsher the Harriett Merrifield Forbes Award for outstanding contribution to the area of gravestone studies and since 2000 she was awarded an MBE.

Accruals No further accruals are expected.

Accession Number 1998/106

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/collection/1176321

Collection Hierarchy - Collection Level

Collection Level (551 22) Betty Willsher

Preview Category Catalogue Number Title Date Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 9141 Gravestone - Wright Hacket c. 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 12198/1 Grave stone Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 12198/2 Grave stone, mural 1688 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 12198/3 Grave stone, mural 1723 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 12198/4 Grave stone, Charles Hay 1813 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 12198/5 Grave stone, mural 1666 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images B 4071/23 Green Man on wall at base of arch 1988 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images B 42952/13 Detail of column, south nave wall, cloister side, possibly Green Man 1992 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7682 Gravestone of J I, 1787 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images B 42952/9 Detail of coped stone, right end of panel. 1992 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 10069/1 View of tombstone - 1873 c. 1980 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 10069/2 View of tombstone - Aitken 170_? c. 1980 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 10069/3 View of tombstone - Preston of Airdrie 1657 c. 1980 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images B 4199/25 View of tombstone with carving of Cathedral ruins - Cunningham Family, 1928 9/1992 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34944 PO Gravestone, John Kirk 1878 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34945 PO Gravestone, Allan Robertson, 1859 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34946 PO Gravestone, Christine Wiseman and children, 1849 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34947 PO Gravestone, Elizabeth Hamilton 1841, detail to show lettering 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34948 PO Gravestone, Mary Millar 1830, showing 19th century lettering 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34949 PO Gravestone, Helen Aitken, 1723 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 44229 PO Slab, Elsphat Donaldson, 1644 1987 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 44230 PO Slab, Helen Law, 1639 1987 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 44231 PO Mural Monument, Tommy Morris, 1875 1987 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 44232 PO Tablestone, classical design, 1816 1987 Item Level

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