At any time, most of the collections are in storage, with a minority on display. However, the curators are very keen to give access to the collections by the public and, given 48 hours notice, they can deliver most of the items for study by amateur and professional. Call 01631 760 030.
The objects collection consists of 163 fully accessioned, catalogued and photographed items, and around 20 objects that have been accessioned but await full cataloguing. Concentrating on social history over the last two centuries, the collection reflects the material culture of the island (home and work). Unusual items include boatbuilding and limestone quarrying tools; bagpipe chanters from the Waterloo era; evidence of the island’s connection with Nyasaland; a St Kilda post boat; a fine vernacular chair; and a WW1 military kilt. Most of these items have been donated by islanders. There is a small collection of archaeological items including a range of quern stones and medieval carved stones rescued from the graveyard. In addition, there are items relating to the work of the Liberty designer Archibald Knox (son of an islander).
As a result of the Curating in the Community Project (2009-10), a catalogue has been drawn up items of interest, held in island households, which can be drawn upon for future exhibitions. These include a fine collection of horse harness last used in the 1940s and a collection of ground officer letters from the 1830s and 1840s.
The collection of original documents, fully accessioned and catalogued include the MacGregor Papers (family of Rev Gregor MacGregor, parish minister (1836-1885); the records of the Lismore Agricultural Society (20th century to 1938); and smaller collections of church, agricultural, maritime, property tax papers etc. The unique set of MacDonald letters from Cape Breton to Lismore in the 1840s and 1850s have been complemented in 2012 by the John MacDougall correspondence (80 letters in the 1860s to 1880s between a Lismore weaver and family in Minnesota: gift of the MacDougall MacCallum Foundation).
In 2010-11, the archive received three very large accessions of papers from house clearances: a comprehensive collection of the records of a Lismore croft (Baligrundle 1) over the 20th century; the Daisybank papers, family and commercial documents from the MacCormick family, merchants on the island; and papers from Hawthorn House, including a mixed bag of family and commercial records of the Stewart family, also merchants on the island. The first two were generous donations from the families, the third a rescue exercise, when the contents of the house were being burned. These three accessions have been sorted but await full cataloguing.
The archive also contains a good collection of copies of historical documents (17th century to the present) acquired over 20 years from the National Archives of Scotland, the Argyll Archive, and a range of other sources. Many of these are of great interest to students and enquirers. A full inventory is available. Several albums and collections of press cuttings are also available for study.
The archive has a collection of some 3,000 photographic images of Lismore people and places from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These have been scanned electronically and the originals returned to the owners. Many of the images have been used in the Lismore Faces exhibitions but the curators would like help in identifying some of the people portrayed.
Audio and Electronic Records
The archive holds six tape recordings of Lismore Heritage – interviews mainly in the 1990s, and a specially commissioned audiovisual record, in Gaelic, of the History of the Lismore Sailing Smacks, drawing on the memories of local mariners. Other recordings are being commissioned.