Tuesday 13 September 2011

St Kilda and Mingulay school log books go online

An abridged story from the National Records of Scotland news site about school log books form the Western isles of St. Kilda and Mingulay, which are no longer populated:

The last school log books for the abandoned islands of St Kilda and Mingulay have gone online, thanks to a partnership between the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the Tasglann nan Eilean Siar (Hebridean Archives). After a careful conservation and digitisation effort, both books are now available as virtual books, allowing the browser to flip through the pages and zoom in to read individual text.

These fascinating documents give a weekly account of life on these islands from the school teachers' point of view, commenting on discipline, the weather and the progress being made by the students. Attendance is often an issue, with children being kept away from school to help with picking potatoes, cutting peat or unloading the supply boats. Illness and fear of illness also had an effect. The Mingulay log book, covering the years 1875 to 1910, notes for Valentine’s Day 1896 "Only 20 came forward on Friday. This is owing to a whim of the parents that two or three other children are infected with a harmless rash on their hands. It is all a want of control of the [School] Board."

The St Kilda log book, dating from 1901 until the island was evacuated in 1930, is equally detailed. Its final pages record important non-school events such as the death of Mrs John Gillies (Mary Gillies), the visit of Tom Johnston MP and Under Secretary of State for Scotland, and the final day of the school before evacuation.

To view the books visit the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar website at www.cne-siar.gov.uk/archives/collections.asp and follow the links to the volumes.

For more on the story visit the NRS website at www.nas.gov.uk/about/110908.asp

(NB: St Kilda, aka Hiort, is to the west of Harris; Mingulay is south of Barra and Vatersay)


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