Prisoners or Patients? The Story of Margaret Hunter or Beaton

Prisons have a much higher proportion of men and women with mental disorders than the general population. This was also true in Victorian times, when ‘the liability of the criminal classes to an excess of insanity is very great, and much beyond that of the free population of the country’. At this time, The Prisons … Continue reading Prisoners or Patients? The Story of Margaret Hunter or Beaton

Locked Down: The Inveraray Jail album

NRS Conservator Jacqueline Thorburn is one of the team responsible for conserving items held within the NRS archives. Here, she tells us about a fascinating artefact of Victorian Scotland that she has worked on – a small book containing details and photographs of inmates of Inverarary Jail… Front cover and title page, before treatment This … Continue reading Locked Down: The Inveraray Jail album

‘Prisoners or Patients?’ – Exhibition now online!

In 2019 National Records of Scotland (NRS) partnered with Professor Rab Houston of the University of St Andrews, to explore the records of those people committed to the Criminal Lunatic Department in Perth, and produced the Fringe Festival exhibition ‘Prisoners or Patients? Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland’. This exhibition focused on the records amassed in … Continue reading ‘Prisoners or Patients?’ – Exhibition now online!

“A Lightbulb Moment” – Professor Rab Houston on Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland

The records and stories featured in our recent exhibition “Prisoners or Patients? Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland” are now available to view online  for the first time. Here Professor Rab Houston, who worked with National Records of Scotland to create and curate this exhibition, explains what first interested him in the project and how he … Continue reading “A Lightbulb Moment” – Professor Rab Houston on Criminal Insanity in Victorian Scotland

From the NRS Archives: Scuttling of the German Fleet, 1919

At the end of the First World War, the German Navy surrendered their warships to the Allied forces. The fate of the vessels was to be decided by the victorious powers but the ships’ remaining skeleton crews had other ideas. Archivist Veronica Schreuder looked into the NRS archives to see what she could discover...  ‘As … Continue reading From the NRS Archives: Scuttling of the German Fleet, 1919

Voices From Our Archives: Pandemic in Paisley, 1832

Pandemics and major public health emergencies are very rare events in modern Scotland but they were once far more common, particularly in eras preceding modern housing and sanitation.  Archivist Bruno Longmore looks at what a letter he found in our archives in the 2000s tells us about a deadly cholera outbreak in Paisley in the … Continue reading Voices From Our Archives: Pandemic in Paisley, 1832

Plastic Fantastic: Archives and Modern Materials

Plastics are a wonderful material for creating all manner of useful items but as NRS conservator Andy McFarlane explains, they can create difficult conservation challenges... Whatever image comes to mind when you hear the word “Archives”, I am pretty certain it will be of something old, pre-modern. “Modern” and “Archives” seem contradictory - they just … Continue reading Plastic Fantastic: Archives and Modern Materials

“Stench, Corruption and Filth”: The Leith Plague of 1645

Empty streets, self isolation, physical distancing...  Not scenes from 2020 as you might expect but Leith in 1645, the year the bubonic plague ravaged the port and killed over half of its population. Scotland was no stranger to the plague. The country had suffered waves of the disease ever since the time of the Black … Continue reading “Stench, Corruption and Filth”: The Leith Plague of 1645