St Kilda and Mingulay school log books in the news!

This week saw the formal launch online of the school log books for the abandoned islands of Mingulay and St Kilda.  Several newspapers, including the Scotsman, Herald, Sunday Express and other news websites such as the BBC have picked up on the story.

The press release issued highlighted some of the stories given in the log books to whet the appetites of journalists, although we didn’t give any names of individuals mentioned in the log books.  Several journalists spent some time finding their own tales from within the log books pages – we always commend original research!

Dougald Munro's signature

The perils of using original records have seen some transcribers fall foul of early twentieth century handwriting!  For example, above is the signature of Dougald Munro, the final teacher on St Kilda, taken from the last page of the log book.  This has been mistakenly transcribed as Douglas in some instances.  It is an easy error to make and it took us here in the office a moment or two to be certain as to the accurate transcription.  Eyes play funny tricks on you when reading original handwriting – you see a D, o, u and g and your brain assumes the rest.  Here, “ald” can easily be mistaken in shape for “las” if you are skim reading the text. It just goes to show the challenges faced when interpreting and transcribing original sources!

We need to say a massive thanks to the National Records of Scotland who undertook the conservation and digitisation work on the volumes and a big thank you to the Comhairle’s IT unit who helped us in getting the digitised images online.

About David Powell

Project Manager and Archivist with Tasglann nan Eilean Siar
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