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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
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232512 General view of gravestones in Errol Parish Church Graveyard. c. 1982 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232513 Detail of gravestone of Jas Baxter dated 1737 at Liberton Parish Church. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232514 Detail of the west end of the Straiton Monument depicting a scene of harrowing. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232515 View of gravestone of James Ivory Smith at Liberton Parish Church. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232516 View of gravestone at Liberton Parish Church. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232517 View of gravestone at Auchtermuchty. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232518 Detail of green man on gravestone at Auchtermuchty. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1219844 Detail of headstone at Tillicoultry burial ground. 1987 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1219845 Detail of headstone at Tillicoultry burial ground. 1987 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232730 View of gravestone of William Lunn at Old Calton Burial Ground. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232731 View of gravestone of Anne Dallas at Old Calton Burial Ground. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232732 View of gravestone depicting weaver at a loom at Kirkton of Monkie, Parish Church and Burial-Ground. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232733 View of gravestone of John Christie d. 1841 at Forgan, St Fillan's Church. c. 3/1982 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232734 View of the Faichney Monument at Innerpeffray. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232735 Detail of gravestone depicting winged souls at St Vigeans Parish Church and Churchyard. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232739 View of gravestone commemorating Elspet Ferrier, d.1784 at Rhynd Old Parish Church and Churchyard. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232742 View of memorial to the wife of Alexander Duff, d. 1772, Boatman and Burgess in Perth at Kinnoull Old Parish Church. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232744 Detail of merchant's gravestone at Dalmeny Parish Church. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232745 Detail of gravestone dated 1818 at Montrose. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232746 Detail of gravestone with winged soul. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232747 View of the gravestone of William Frazer, d. 1756. Winged soul, plough, 'Memento Mori' ribbon, crossed bones and skull at Dunning, St Serf's Church and Churchyard. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232748 View of gravestone at Lundie Parish Church. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232749 Detail of gravestone dated 1800 depicting a ship under sail at Montrose. Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1232750 Detail of tympanum on Thomas Bannatyne monument dated 1638 at Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh. Item Level

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