Friday, 3 April 2015

Sex, rock and roll and maybe we just missed the drugs!

Stirling University Archives Premises
Actually, such a ‘red top’ title is not needed. Archives are wonderful places as this visit to the University of Stirling Archives and Stirling Council Archives on 27 March proved. For all eleven of us, it was great to have the chance to find out more about the breadth of an archive’s collection rather than to consult a specific set of records.
Stirling University is fairly new as far as Scottish universities go, founded in 1967, but recent acquisitions have put it firmly on the genealogy trail. The key interest is the records of the Stirling District Asylum, from 1869, and the Royal Scottish National Hospital (RSNH), from 1862, both formerly in Larbert. The Asylum
Stirling University Archives
Checking RSNH Registers
catered for people from central Scotland mainly but the RSNH cared for children with learning difficulties from the whole country and beyond. Admissions registers and case records make for fascinating reading with many of the Asylum records also containing photographs. The Victorian language is rather shocking in places: at one time the RSNH was ‘for the education of imbeciles’. Children’s records are closed for 100 years and those of adults for 75 years. Unlike those two NHS collections, the records of the Musicians Union, starting in the 1890s, are still being added to on a regular basis. They include branch membership records, local and national minutes and newsletters which detail new members, changes of address and members removed for not paying their dues. Karl Magee, University archivist, highlighted sets of minutes and journals detailing the impact of the new-fangled ‘talkies’ on musicians’ employment: the view was that they wouldn’t last!
Stirling Council Archives
Slum Housing Replacement Plans
Stirling Council Archives
1360 charter & Kings Seal
Stirling Council Archives were established in 1975 as Central Region Archives but the collections go back much further, almost to the establishment of Stirling as a burgh with the earliest charter dated 1360. We were shown a letter from Charles, Prince of Wales, to the town council of Stirling. Not one of those covered by the very recent Freedom of Information request, this one was dated January 1746 and basically said give me the key to the town or you will suffer for it! Council records of many sorts (town, police burgh, county, Central Region) form the core of the collection but there are also militia records, church records, mainly Church of Scotland (Stirlingshire and Clackmannanshire) but also some Episcopal, Methodist and Baptist, estate records with rich collection of letters and a range of other personal deposits. Bear in mind that that coverage is generally the current Stirling Council area so places like Dunblane and Doune, in Perthshire, are included. Pam McNicol, Council Archivist, had a very wide range of very interesting documents on show for us including some beautiful hand drawn estate plans and a set of records from Whinwell Children’s Home, following a child through to emigration to Canada.
Our title? A rather explicit description of a visit by the Devil in a witchcraft trial of 1658 (Stirling Presbytery Minutes) provided the sex. And who joined the Musicians Union on 1 August 1962? Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon and Peter Best (Ringo was later) of course. That’s the rock and roll. Drugs? Probably listed in the very detailed stores inventories in the Asylum annual reports.
Many thanks to Karl and Pam for hosting us and for your enthusiasm for and knowledge of the collections in your care. We had a great day!

1 comment:

  1. I worked almost 3 years in University archives... never againg :)

    Greetings! Vitkacy
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