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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 7678 Gravestone of Walter Turgan 1668 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7679 Gravestone of AB - IP 1776 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 5356/1 Interior view showing blacksmiths at work c. 1980 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 5356/2 Interior view showing blacksmiths at work c. 1980 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7686 East face 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 7687 South West faces 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34938 PO Gravestone - The Fortune Children, 1766 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 12658/1 Gravestone, John Boiter, 1755. 1984 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 12658/2 Gravestone, Hendry Mitchell, 1742 1984 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 12658/3 Gravestone, John Taylor, 1820 1984 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 12658/4 Gravestone, John Spindie, 1744 1984 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34923 PO Gravestone, James Paterson, 1752 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 9183 General view c. 1985 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34924 PO Gravestone, Robert Gourlay, 1732 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 9144 Gravestone - Edie, 1770 c. 1980 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images F 12962 Mural (no date) 1984 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 26948 Gravestones, Couper (1760)/Marr 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 26949 Gravestone, Mr Alexander, 1740 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 26950 Gravestone, Ann Malcolm, 1765 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 44222 PO Headstone, Marjorie Mores, 176(-), detail 1987 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images B 4102/5 View of headstone against wall with voluted leaves over cartouche and frame of leaves. 1988 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images B 4102/6 View of headstone, large soul makes top shape, skull from drape with riband above. 1988 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images B 4102/7 View of headstone, back of soul's head, portrait of woman with long hair, n.d. 1988 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images B 4102/8 View of headstone, soul makes top shape, Green Man below on drape. Janet Liwd + 1712. 1988 Item Level

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