The Importance of Knowing Your Country’s History

Dr Elspeth King is a Scottish curator, writer and social historian. She is known for her role as curator of social history at the People’s Palace Museum in Glasgow, as Director the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, and for her scholarship on the Scottish Suffrage movement.

Taken at her final lecture as Director of Stirling Smith Art Gallery & Museum (2018)

She studied Medieval History at University of St Andrews. One of the reasons she chose that topic was because Scottish History was not a recognised topic which counted towards a degree. It was said to be too pariochial. You could only study it as a special subject in second year, there was no set eading list, you had to discover your own.

Recently she joined an online meeting of Glasgow P4Indy and talked about the importance of teaching and learning your country’s history. As she says in the talk:

It’s my belief those who know and write about the past can understand the present and shape the future.

And I  know myself that the Scottish cause of independence has been held back by failure to teach Scottish history, literature & language in our schools. We have long suffered from what is known as internal  colonialism and the well documented Scottish cringe whereby all our culture is regarded as  inferior to our bigger southern neighbour.

You can listen to her talk and the Q&A afterwards here:

In 1974, King joined the People’s Palace, in Glasgow as a curator, where she remained for the next 16 years. During her tenure exhibitions such as Scotland Sober and Free, the 150th anniversary of the Temperance Movement, and Michael Donnelly’s 1981 exhibition of stained glass, gained record attendances.[2] The People’s Palace won European Museum of the Year in 1981 and the British Museum of the Year award in 1983.[3]

King left Glasgow to take on the role of director of the Dunfermline Heritage Trust[5][7], where she helped to oversee the restoration as a heritage centre of Abbot House,[8] the oldest secular building in the town.[9] Then 1994, she joined the Smith Art Gallery Museum in Stirling as its first Director, where she remained until her retirement in August 2018.[7] 

Some years back the BBC interviewed Elspeth on Good Morning Scotland. You can listen to that here:

BBC Scotland, Good Morning Scotland.