The people who helped shape Edinburgh Libraries: the tradesmen who built Central Library

“The contractors began operations on the 17 Nov [1887]…. excavating area of site and carting away stuff”.
So began the building of Central Library.

Tales of One City

When the doors of Edinburgh Central Library were formally opened on Monday 9 June 1890, it was the fulfilment of many years preparation.

Selected design for Edinburgh Public Library, elevation to George IV Bridge and plans for third and fourth floors, by George Washington Browne, 1887

In our collections, we have two volumes of handwritten ledgers kept by the then Clerk of Works, William Bruce, which record in detail the building works as they progressed.

Clerk of Works’ record books for Edinburgh Public Library

We know from the record books that preparation work had begun as early as 1879 when it was recorded that “Official tests of Pentland Cement” were being methodically undertaken. The pages are filled with neat notes with details such as the amount of cement used, how many days the cement had been set for, and the amount of shrinkage.

On the 18 November 1887, the…

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Artwork from some of Scotland’s most talented student photographers is on display at the Scottish Parliament until 8 February 2019.

The exhibition – Higher Vision – will showcase some of the best photographs taken by 26 students from schools and colleges from all over Scotland who have completed the Scottish Qualifications Authority’s Higher Photography course over the past year.

Gutenberg Bible on display 22nd November 2018

To mark Book Week Scotland 2018 and the 550th anniversary of the death of Johannes Gutenberg, one of the National Library’s most treasured items, the Gutenberg Bible is being shown publicly, for one day only, on the Thursday 22 November
10.00-18.00 in the National Library of Scotland,  George IV Bridge, Edinburgh.  No need to book. Read more

World War One resources from Edinburgh Libraries

Tales of One City

A few years ago, like so many other heritage, cultural and community organisations, we started to look at how we could mark the centenary anniversary of World War One, recognising that this momentous time would provide opportunity for research and reflection.

We delved into our collections to see what material had significance and wide appeal. After we had started making material available online, we were also contacted by individuals who had unique items and memories they wanted to share.

Here are a few of the highlights from our WW1 collections that you can browse online:

Edinburgh in World War One – 1914-1918 on Our Town Stories
This story describes the impact of World War One on the people at home. Read out about the zeppelin raid, the Gretna Rail Disaster, the city’s football heroes, recuperating war poets and pioneering female doctor, Elsie Inglis.

Ethel Moir’s diaries on Capital Collections
“We…

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‘Strike for Freedom’

frederick-douglass-photo-200In the 19th-century, Edinburgh was a city of freedom for Black social justice campaigners born into slavery in the USA. Frederick Douglass and other Black abolitionists came to the city to collaborate, speak publicly and to inspire thousands to join the anti-slavery campaign.

You can explore maps pinpointing Frederick Douglass and other Black abolitionists in Edinburgh and Scotland using this  interactive map resource. You can also view a ‘Strike for Freedom’ display guide and a ‘Black Freedom Trail Map’ of Edinburgh at Edinburgh University’s ‘Our Bondage & Our Freedom’ website.

Visit the National Library of Scotland’s ‘Strike for Freedom’ Treasurer’s display from the 4th Oct 2018-16 Feb 2019 and view manuscripts and photographs that chart the campaign against slavery in the midst of the American Civil War.

Historic Environment Scotland visit Oct. 2018

pic1On a blustery, October Monday I had the opportunity to attend another ELISA-organised event, this time situated in the building of Historic Environment Scotland, discreetly tucked away in the middle of Bernard Terrace. I had first been introduced to HES at the LocScot event in March this year, which took place at the National Library of Scotland. We saw different representatives of historical information services hoping to create a search-friendly resource after pooling together their data so it would conveniently reach out to (all types of) end users. It was then that HES had piqued my interest so I was excited to know more about their historical archive holdings.

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Leith Miscellany goes online – part 1

Ooh, this is interesting! My people were Leithers so I’ll be investigating this for sure. Thanks @TalesOfOneCity

Tales of One City

We’ve recently undertaken a large project to digitise and make available online thirteen albums relating to Leith. We’ve named them the Leith Miscellany volumes I – XIII as the contents cover basically everything and anything to do with Leith. They provide an extraordinary and unique insight into the social history of the area.

Originally collected in shop-bought photograph albums, the sticky album pages and damp had caused minor damage to some of the contents, so as well as digitising the photographs, postcards, presscuttings and ephemera, we have remounted the items on archival cardboard and rehoused them in conservation boxes.

The Fish Quay, – looking up-river, c1830

This is the first in a series of three blog posts highlighting the material and covers volumes I – IV. Inside, you get a real feel of what it was like in the 19th and early 20th centuries, with photographs of cargo boats and…

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