The Seeing Our History Team

The Seeing Our History team has worked and learned together on the project.

Dr Catriona Burness, RNIB Scotland's Senior Research Officer, an historian by training, has nurtured the project at every stage from the grant application forwards.

The project historian is Iain Hutchison, a social historian of disability. He was awarded his PhD by the University of Strathclyde and is the author of A History of Disability in Nineteenth-Century Scotland. He is on the boards of Disability History Scotland and of the worldwide Disability History Association.

The project owes an immense debt to our team of research volunteers - Veronica Bell, Kirstin Cunningham, Jill Doran, Lizzy Ellicott, Joan Kerr, Moira McMurchie, Fiona Patterson, Victoria Ross and Elizabeth Wood.

They juggled their other commitments to research entries in The Register of the Outdoor Blind at the National Records of Scotland.

David Bakermault also provided support as the administrative volunteer, an essential role in managing more than 1,100 Register entries and their distribution to the research volunteers.

Comments from the Research Volunteers

'I spent many an hour researching my family tree so when I discovered that RNIB Scotland needed volunteers for Seeing Our History Project I knew I wanted to work on it. It gave me great pleasure and also a privilege to work with such a wonderful team to research and bring other people’s stories to life.'

'I wanted to do the project as I was interested to see how people lived in the 19th Century with a visual handicap. It was a dream to be able to go to Register House and delve into the records to build up a story about the people on the Blind Register. I got to use all the skills I had learned from building up my own family tree.'

'This research allowed us to see the reality of life for blind people in Edinburgh. What was perhaps most enjoyable was seeing this research evolve into studies of individuals' lives which were extremely varied and sometimes surprising. These studies gave me a personal insight into this period of history which I could not have gained otherwise, and gave me a deeper appreciation of the difficulties people faced in this city in the not so distant past.'

'The project has been such an enjoyable and interesting experience.  It’s been fascinating to learn about the lives of the individuals on the register and it has often felt as though they have come to life through the telling of their stories!  I hope that the people who listen to and read these stories will find them as interesting as we have!'

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Image: Seeing Our History team and theme tune musicians at the launch of ‘Feeling Our History’

Image: RNIB Scotland Senior Research Officer Catriona Burness

Image: Research Historian Iain Hutchison