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Papers of Betty Willsher, historian, St Andrews, Scotland

551 22

Description Papers of Betty Willsher, historian, St Andrews, Scotland

Date 1970 to 1999

Collection Papers of Betty Willsher, historian, St Andrews, Scotland

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) Papers of Betty Willsher, historian, St Andrews, Scotland

Preview Category Catalogue Number Title Date Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 44228 PO Museum Collection, Coped Stone, Judith Nairn, 1646, detail 1987 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images B 42952/8 Detail of coped stone. Scene of woman kneeling by curtain, figure at end. 1992 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 42260 Corner of a tablestone, McLellan (?) Green Man 1987 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 42261 IB HG 1775 Flesher's Stone 1987 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 5355/2 The Green Man, 1756 c. 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 5355/3 Gravestone detail, no name, 1756 c. 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 5355/4 The Butterchurn stone c. 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images B 4056/11 RB MR 1756 1989 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34922 PO Slab detail, Andrew Richardson, 1750 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 44221 PO Slab detail, Andrew Richardson, 1730 1987 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 42237 IS IK 1720 1987 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34921 PO Gravestone, AS AK (1763)? 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7671 Gravestone of Wright (n.d.), in graveyard. Winged soul and axe. 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7422 Detail of tablestone - William Taylor, 1808 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7411 18th century tablestones 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7413 Fragment slab 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7412 Inset in Church wall 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 9180 Exterior view c. 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 9182 Exterior c. 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 9181 Interior - ship figure head c. 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 5355/1 Putti with fan, 1729 c. 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7675 Gravestone of Thomas Younger 1636 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7676 Gravestone of Robert Scotland and Margaret Duncan 1794 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7677 Gravestone of Robert Anderson 1719 1985 Item Level

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