School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Showcasing the Sir William Fraser facsimiles collection

Academic Librarian Margaret Forrest and Student Intern Pippa Carter have launched a new database showcasing the Sir William Fraser facsimiles collection. (Published 1 September 2015)

Published by the Trustees of Sir William Fraser in 1903, the series of 288 facsimiles spans from the eleventh century to the early nineteenth century. The School holds an extensive collection of prints of these original facsimiles.

Sir William Fraser Facsimiles exhibition
The Sir William Fraser Facsimiles exhibition is currently on show in the School.

A valuable resource

Until now the facsimiles have been packaged and stored within the School and whilst they have been used for teaching palaeography, they were difficult to access with many remaining unopened and in their original packaging.

Online and open access

Pippa Carter, a fourth year History and History of Art undergraduate, joined the School as a student intern in June and has been responsible for the digitisation of the collection.

The facsimiles have been carefully scanned and documented and are now available in an accessible online database.

This fantastic resource is open access and available to staff, students and the public alike. It is expected the facsimiles will be used in palaeography training allowing students to transcribe the documents, many of which appear in their original Latin form.

Visit the online database

A treasured collection

A creative display on the first floor of the William Robertson Wing aims to promote the new database. It provides a perfect opportunity to share one of the School’s treasured and fascinating collections with a wider audience.

The exhibition highlights a charter by King Duncan II of Scotland from 1094 and a letter by King James VI dated 1575 along with a number of other examples from the collection.

The exhibition is located to the left as you exit the main stairwell on the first floor.

A lasting legacy

Sir William Fraser left several other generous bequests to the University, including £25,000 to endow a lectureship in ‘what may be considered my life’s work’, a position which was to become known as the Sir William Fraser Chair of Scottish History and Palaeography.

About Sir William Fraser

Sir William Fraser (1816-1898) was a genealogist, archivist, and Scottish historian. Trained as a solicitor, he left private practice in 1852 to accept an appointment as Assistant Keeper of Sasines at Edinburgh’s Register House.

Frasers’ professional involvement with peerage cases initiated a lifetime of research into the genealogy of Scotland’s most prominent landed families. Each of these families had its own charter chest, containing centuries of carefully-preserved muniments and letters. Fraser took every opportunity to examine these collections, and used the material to furnish a series of family histories which were to occupy him for the rest of a long and productive career. These volumes, produced at private expense, were lavishly accompanied by chromolithographic illustrations of the manuscripts in question.