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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 1259080 General view. 1985 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1259079 View of wall tablet of Blair. 1985 Item Level
All Other 551 22/3 CV, off prints etc; Correspondence relating to collection at RCAHMS Sub-Group Level
All Other 551 22/1 Gravestones Group Level
All Other 551 22/2 Images of 'Green Men' c. 1990 Group Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1338683 View of headstone commemorating John Doig (died 1780) with large winged soul. 1993 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1338684 View of headstone, reverse side, commemorating John Doig (died 1780) with shield and tools of trade for Weavers. 1993 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1342916 Kinloch Parish Church, Churchyard. Detail of gravestone, John Robertson dated 1744. 1985 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1457102 View of headstone commemorating Horsburgh (died 1735) with portrait of man holding book. 1994 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1531895 View of the Ram Fountain, High Street, Moffat, from S. c. 1985 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1568420 View of gravestone with initials DM MG, no date, in the churchyard of Kettle Old Parish Church. 1987 Item Level
On-line Digital Images On-line Digital Images SC 1681300 Forteviot Parish Church Churchyard. Detail of Gravestone of John Bayn, 1758. Insc: '1758 IB MR'. 1986 Item Level
Photographs and Off-line Digital Images A 34910 PO View of headstone for the Thomas Sisters 1723, Stobo Churchyard. Item Level

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