05 Apr

Testimonies of Transition: Voices from the Scottish Diaspora

Friday, April 5, 2019 - 3:00pm
Professor Marjory Harper
Event Location: 
New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, 36 West 44th Street, New York, NY
Event Sponsor: 
New York Genealogical and Biographical Society and the American Scottish Foundation

At the heart of the Scottish diaspora lie stories of human adventure, achievement and adversity. Personal testimony provides a powerful lens through which to view the complex and often contradictory saga of Scottish emigration. Not only does it offer multiple narratives of the motives, expectations and experiences of successive generations of individuals and families: it can also be used to explore broader issues about the cultural and political spirit of the age, as well as the socio-economic context that triggered tidal waves and trickles of emigration.

The story of emigration is most meaningfully told in the participants’ own words. By adding their actual voices to top-down, policy-based studies, personal testimony infuses the migrants’ experiences with popular appeal, by demonstrating the practical impact of policies and procedures on the lives of real people, with whose emotions listeners can readily identify. Drawing on a sample from over 100 interviews conducted by the author, this talk explores the motives and experiences of migrants, settlers and returners by focusing on the recollections of a handful of the 2 million men, women and children who left their Scottish homeland in the twentieth century.

A book signing will follow. Professor Harper’s latest book will be available for purchase.


About the Speaker

Marjory Harper is Professor of History at the University of Aberdeen, and Visiting Professor at the Centre for History, University of the Highlands and Islands. Her research focuses on British emigration since 1800, particularly from Scotland. Her most recent monograph, Testimonies of Transition (an oral history of twentieth-century Scottish emigration) was published in May 2018, and she is about to begin a commissioned monograph on Scottish-Antipodean networks. Two of her monographs (Adventurers and Exiles (2003) and Scotland No More? (2012) have each won an international prize. She co-authored (with Stephen Constantine) Migration and Empire (2010), a Companion Volume in the Oxford History of the British Empire and she has published about 100 articles. Her edited collection, Migration and Mental Health: Past and Present was published in 2016, and she has authored a number of articles on migration and mental health in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is Director of a new online Master’s Programme in Scottish Heritage, which was launched in September 2017.


Registration Information

Advance registration: $20 for members of the NYG&B & ASF, $25 regular registration; $35 for tickets at the door (if it is not sold-out).


Click here to register


Photographs will be taken during the event, and all participants agree to allow use of those photographs in all published and unpublished mediums.