First visitor for Tasglann nan Eilean Siar

Annie and Donna view the Archive records
Annie and Donna view the Archive records

TASGLANN nan Eilean Siar (Hebridean Archives) have received their first visit from a member of the public since the archive project commenced in June of this year.

Annie Macleay from Shader on the west side of Lewis, who recently visited her birth city of Detroit as part of a BBC Radio nan Gàidheal programme, was invited to come and view the records of the Lewis Society of Detroit which are held in Stornoway Library.

Mrs Macleay said: “I have wanted to go back over to Detroit my whole life and never thought that the programme would evoke so much interest. It was lovely to see evidence of my own family’s history in these records.”

The records were brought back from Detroit by Councillor and Broadcaster Kenneth Maciver in 2007 who visited the city as part of his daily programme on BBC Radio nan Gàidheal.

Stored at Stornoway Library, several members of the public had used these records for their own research although the records had not been officially catalogued. Cataloguing work commenced by coincidence shortly after the first of Annie’s programmes had started being broadcast.

Donna Morrison, Archives Assistant (Graduate Trainee) had listened to the series of programmes where Annie returned to her birth city. On a whim, Donna went to check the archives to see if she could find any reference to Annie and her family and was amazed at what she found.

Donna was able to find records relating to individual members of the Society in Detroit who she believed to be Annie’s mother, father and aunt.

This included a reference to a gift of flowers to a Mrs Donald Macdonald in the minutes of the Society meeting in the month after Annie was born. The next logical step was to invite Annie in to view the records for herself.

Donna explains: “The coincidence of the programme being broadcast and the cataloguing of the records could not have been better.

“It was great that Annie accepted our invitation to come in to see us and it was fantastic that there was an evident record of her family in the Society’s records too.

“It was a pleasure to be able to help Annie find out a bit more about her family history and would like to offer those who have a connection with Detroit the opportunity to come in and use the records too.”

The Tasglann project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, the Comhairle and Comunn na Gàidhlig. For more information on Tasglann nan Eilean Siar and the records of the Lewis Society of Detroit, visit their website at www.cne-siar.gov.uk/archives or email the team at tasglann@cne-siar.gov.uk.