Exhibition tells stories of Scottish emigration

Farmer leading a horse
Canadian Settlers
Full handbook cover image

Personal stories are at the heart of the Scottish emigration exhibition which has opened at the National Library of Scotland.

In 'The Original Export', we draw on journals and letters written by Scots who left their homeland in search of a better life. Focusing on six particular stories, we show what often triggered the decision to uproot, and how emigrants settled in their new home.

The exhibition takes full advantage of interactive displays, including audio presentations that quote from emigrants' letters. There are facsimiles of letters, along with photographs, maps and printed documents.

Emigrants' correspondence

It also explores some myths about Scottish emigration over the past 300 years. It shows, for example, that emigrants were not just those fleeing the Highland Clearances, and the reason for going was not always poverty.

Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand were popular destinations for those wanting to leave Scotland. Our extensive collection of emigrants' correspondence reveals how they adapted to their surroundings - and how they kept their Scottish identity.

'The Original Export' is free and open daily until 11 October.

29 June 2009

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