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North Highland Archive
Newsletter 16 Spring 2003

New Archivist for the North Highland Archive!
The beginning of February saw the arrival of Phil Astley as the new North Highland Archivist. Phil has made the short hop across the Pentland Firth from Orkney where he was Assistant Archivist for eight years. During his spell in the Northern Isles, Phil undertook the Society of Archivists’ Postgraduate Diploma in Archive Administration and established a strong working relationship with the Hudson’s Bay Company Archives in Winnipeg, Canada, where he worked for two months in the summer of 2001. He is looking forward to working closely with local heritage groups and developing the role that the Archive has to play in the wider community. Phil, his wife Doreen and their 18 month old twins, Lauren and Andrew, will be living in Lybster.

Thanks to Gail!
Now that staffing levels are back up to full strength, Gail Inglis is to be congratulated for “holding the fort” so capably during the interim period.

Scottish Archive Network Computer Goes “Live”
Wick Library, Sinclair Terrace, Wick, KW1 5AB

The North Highland Archive has become the most recent recipient of a computer system granted by the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN) project. The system is now “live” and available for public use in the archive material in Scotland by ensuring that each of its 52 participating archives are equipped with a state-of-the-art Internet-ready PC, which will provide visitors to Scottish archives with access to a wide range of Scottish and historical information via the project’s website, which can be found at www.scan.org.uk  Officially launched on 30 November 2000, the website also grants users free access to a knowledge base of Scottish history covering such diverse topics as shipbuilding, witchcraft and emigration.

Stock Check
Regular users will be aware that the Archive was closed to the public for three weeks between 31st March and 22nd April for our first ever stock-check.  It was a resounding success, enabling the records in the strong-room to be placed in a more logical order, thereby making them more accessible, while the public searchroom has also undergone something of a minor ‘face-lift’.  We would like to express our gratitude for everyone’s patience during the time that we were closed and are confident that any short term inconvenience will be made up for in long term benefits for the Archive and its users.

As always, we are extremely grateful to our dedicated band of volunteers engaged on their various projects:

Garry Robertson continues to plough her way through the Northern Ensign births, marriages and deaths, and has now reached 1870. Thanks also go to Glynis MacKay and Frank Campbell at Rhind House for their continued work in typing-up Garry’s work. Margie Miller soldiers ‘womanfully’ on with the Tongue and Farr parochial records, undaunted by the scale of the task. Daniel Parsons has been continuing with the indexing of the 1861 census, and appreciates more than ever what a big parish Latheron is! Peter Bruce has been sorting the recently deposited Reay Parish Church Records, while Harry Gray has been busy with the scissors and Pritt-Stick compiling the local history files from the various newspapers.

Second Caithness Heritage Fair
Following the success of the first event two years ago, the weekend of the 4th and 5th October 2003 will see the Second Caithness Heritage Fair held at the Assembly Rooms in Wick. This celebration of the culture and heritage of the county will be a memorable occasion, so be sure to keep that date free in your diary and watch out for forthcoming promotional material!

Recent Accessions
Among the more notable items to de deposited are the following:

P450: Copy of an account (dated 4th March 1850) of sums of money expended by W.J.J.A. Sinclair of Freswick in improvements on the estate of Freswick, covering improvements at Dunbeath, Freswick, Duncansby, Stroma and West Greenland. Deposited by Dr. Eric Voice of Thurso.

P454: Two boxes of fascinating correspondence, legal and miscellaneous papers relating to the administration of Reay Parish Church. Deposited by Una Vivers, Reay.

P456: Donald Bain MacKenzie family photographs and papers together with printed material regarding Freemasonry. Deposited by Jessie Gunn MacKenzie, Toronto.

Top Ten Websites for Local and Family History

Scottish Archive Network. A gateway to the written history of Scotland

The National Archives (formerly the Public Record Office), containing an online catalogue (PROCAT) to an amazing 9 million files.

The official government source of genealogical data for Scotland.

Free access to a fully searchable index of over 350,000 Scottish wills and testaments dating from 1500 to 1875 (soon to be extended to 1901).

Test and improve your palaeography skills, including online tuition.

Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Invaluable for information on buildings and ancient monuments.

A major learning and research resource for everyone with an interest in the language, culture and history of the Scottish Highlands and Islands

Family history research tool, containing access to the International Genealogical Index.

National Archives of Scotland, soon to contain an online public access catalogue.

Accounts of Scottish life from the 18th and 19th centuries