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Translated title of the contributionThe Paper of the Papers of Alexander Carmichael
Original languageGaelic
Publication statusUnpublished - 24 Aug 2010
EventRannsachadh na Gàidhlig 2010, University of Aberdeen - Aberdeen, United Kingdom
Duration: 23 Aug 201026 Aug 2010


ConferenceRannsachadh na Gàidhlig 2010, University of Aberdeen
CountryUnited Kingdom


There are surely few personal archives containing quite so many different types of paper as the collection of the celebrated folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912), the author and editor of Carmina Gadelica. During more than fifty years’ recording Carmichael, employed as an exciseman in the Outer Hebrides, then Edinburgh, would write, edit, and polish folklore on a remarkable variety of paper-types: tiny torn fragments; large foolscap sheets; excise accounts; schoolbooks; field notebooks; printers’ proofs; steamship timetables; and concert programmes, among others. Especially during the years he spent on Uist and Barra between 1864 and 1882, it was far from easy for Carmichael to acquire new sheets of paper and notebooks: he had to make do with what was at hand.

It is possible for a scholar to put Carmichael’s actual texts to one side and to examine how the different paper-types he wrote upon reveal the spread of governmental bureaucracy to the remotest corners of the British Isles during the second half of the nineteenth century. In this paper, however, I intend to investigate what these papers reveal to us concerning the complex, contradictory, and every-changing recording practices of Alexander Carmichael. What evidence do paper-types supply about how Carmichael recorded lore in the field? How was this lore transcribed and edited for print, often many years after its first recording? Finally, what does the paper evidence tell us about the complex nature of Alexander Carmichael himself?


Rannsachadh na Gàidhlig 2010, University of Aberdeen


Aberdeen, United Kingdom

Event: Conference

ID: 1735821