Reid Tait Collection transferred to Shetland Archives

Shetland Archives has recently received the last of a large and significant collection of printed material from Shetland Library, in a handover that has taken several years to catalogue and transfer.

Lerwick draper and antiquarian Edwyn Seymour Reid Tait was a prolific collector of printed material relating to Shetland, until his death in 1960. Reid Tait amassed the largest known collection of pamphlets, books, and papers written on any subject with a Shetland theme. At the time of his death, this accumulation was bequeathed to the Shetland Library, which held it for many years.

It was decided a few years ago that in order to facilitate better public access to the material, and ensure appropriate storage of the sometimes delicate volumes, the collection would be transferred to Shetland Archives.

Cataloguing this assemblage as it was being transferred has taken some time, but the last of the publications were handed over recently by Douglas Garden of Shetland Library to Mark Smith of Shetland Archives. (pictured)

With the addition of this material to the catalogue, Shetland Archives now holds the largest ever collection of Shetland themed printed reference materials, following the transfer of the J. M. Goudie collection in 2007.

James Mouat Goudie was joint secretary of the Shetland Literary and Scientific Society and was keenly interested in local antiquities and the language and literature of Scandinavia. His fascination with this material led to him accumulating one of the isles’ most important book collections, on subjects ranging from archaeology and antiquities to nature, dialect and folklore.

After Goudie’s death in 1928, his collection was acquired by the Town Council and held in the Town Hall, before being transferred to the Shetland Library in 1950, and later to the Shetland Archives.

Archivist Brian Smith said: ‘We have a very good relationship with the Shetland Library, and these transfers make sure that important historical material is held in the very best conditions.’

Both collections of papers and publications can be browsed in the Shetland Archives online catalogue and examined at the Archives on request.