The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) is pleased to announce
the second 'Famous Scot' in our exhibition series: Sir James
Black's family history is the subject of a free exhibition
in the ScotlandsPeople Centre from 30 March until 22 May 2009.
Sir James Black is one of the outstanding medical scientists of
the modern era. He is renowned as the developer of beta-blockers,
of treatment for ulcers, and of other important therapeutic drugs
in everyday use around the world.
The exhibition traces James Black's roots and looks back to
his father's ancestors in the Lanarkshire pits and his mother's
family, who came from the banks of scenic Loch Tay.
James Black's family were coalminers for at least five generations
- his father was working at the coal face, aged just thirteen. Coalmining
and the mining communities will be a major feature of the exhibition.
The exhibition also uses the story of Sir Jame's mother's ancestors
to highlight life in rural Highland communities at the turn of the
19th century, where small farmers, often Gaelic speakers, struggled
to retain their tenancies in the face of a drive for agricultural
Kirk session record of the parish of
Balquhidder, written by John Reid, session clerk, who would become
Sir James Black's great-great grandfather. Like many other Scottish
dominies, he earned extra income by combining the post of session
clerk with his main duties as parish schoolmaster (General Register
Office for Scotland ref. OPR 331/3 37v 39r).
A transcript of the above record can be downloaded
(GROS ref. OPR 331/3 37v-39r Acrobat PDF - 183KB, opens in new
This section of Famous Scots opens to the public
in the ScotlandsPeople Centre, on Monday 30 March and will run until
Friday 22 May.
In the months that follow, staff in the General Register Office
for Scotland (GROS) and the National Archives of Scotland (NAS)
will be delving into the ancestry of four further celebrities, and
the rolling exhibition will show visitors how easy it is to trace
their own Scottish family history.
Visitors to the exhibition can enjoy the extraordinary venue in
the heart of New Register House, surrounded by over half a million
hand-written registers going back more than 400 years - a sight
to inspire people to use the resources of the ScotlandsPeople Centre
and the NAS.
For more information about the Famous Scots exhibition please visit
the ScotlandsPeople hub website. The link can be found under 'Other
websites' on the left-hand side of this page.