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Letters and Diaries
Personal letters and diaries provide a valuable and interesting insight into the lives of people in the past. In reading the writer's own words, we gain access to their first-hand views and opinions of contemporary personalities and events, and can discover how language and expression have changed over time.
The young Mary, Queen of Scots, writes to her mother, c.1550
A handwritten letter from the young Mary in France to her mother, Mary of Guise in Scotland, introducing Monsieur de Brieze and recommending him to her mother.
James Melville's school days, 1569
An extract from the diary of Mr Andrew Melville, describing his school days in Montrose. This diary was edited and published by the Bannatyne Club in the nineteenth century.
The emigrant's letter
A letter written by William Knox, a Scot who emigrated to Canada in 1838. The letter describes his journey from Annan to Canada via New York.
Queen Victoria visits Taymouth Castle, 1842
An extract from the diary of Mrs Maule, the wife of the Liberal MP for Perthshire, who was invited to Taymouth Castle for the visit of Queen Victoria in 1842.
George Blyth's diary,
An extract from the diary of George Blyth, schoolteacher in Charlestown, Fife, and clerk of Limekilns Church in the mid-nineteenth century.
A holiday in the Highlands, 1871
Entries from Henry Paton's diary, recording his ‘First Grand Tour of the Western Highlands’ in 1871. Henry's diary entries describe where and how he travelled, and what he saw.
The sights of war, October 1915
An extract from a letter sent by the Rev Robert J Thomson to Lady Clementina Waring, describing his experiences in the trenches whilst serving with the Black Watch in 1915.
the war effort, 1915
The Great War involved the whole country in the war effort - men, women and even children, as this letter from Cecile Victor demonstrates.
Outbreak of war,
William Paton was a Scottish miner who kept a diary throughout the Second World War. He often described how international events impacted on his life in Stoneyburn, West Lothian.
Victory in Europe celebrations, 1945
William Paton's detailed description of V.E. Day celebrations in Stoneyburn, West Lothian.