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Lord John Abercromby

Archaeology, folklore and travel.

John Abercromby, 5th and last Lord Abercromby of Aboukir and Tullibody (1841-1924), left this collection to the Library. Abercromby entered the army in 1858, retiring in 1870 with the rank of Lieutenant in the Rifle Brigade. He served as Vice-President of the Folklore Society and President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He succeeded his brother to the title in 1917. His publications included 'A trip through the Eastern Caucasus' (1889); 'Pre- and Proto-historic Finns', (2 vols, 1898); and 'A study of the Bronze Age Pottery of Great Britain and Ireland' (2 vols, 1912). Dying without male heirs, he endowed the Abercromby Chair of Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh and bequeathed us some 2,500 volumes and 400 pamphlets on archaeology, ethnology and linguistics, and a substantial body of correspondence and papers. The collection reflects his interests. It is rich in material relating to Asia, particularly the Caucasus, plus folklore and early pottery, particularly in Britain and Finland. Most of the books are 19th century, with some 18th century material.

The books are all listed in the pre-1985 typescript catalogue and there are rudimentary online records for some of them. The shelfmark is “L.A.B.”

The manuscript collection includes material that relates to Abercromby’s publications as well as to his personal life. There are a large number of letters and postcards spanning the years 1881 to 1916. The collection also includes notebooks; drawings of archaeological artefacts; bundles of studies for 'The Pre- and Proto-Historic Finns'; material on the tabulation of Finnish folk tales; printed items, notes, photographs of the Canary Islands; material including photographs, press cuttings, notes on 'A study of the Bronze age pottery of Great Britain and Ireland'. There are inventories of household effects at several addresses, and a box containing material relating to the Hon. Ralph Abercromby (John Abercromby's brother). In addition to a number of photograph albums of views, features and acquaintances, there are five plan chest drawers of unsorted material, mainly illustrative. See handlist H55.