Visiting Scholars

Visiting Scholars

Funded by the Friends of Aberdeen University Library

Open to All and Dedicated to the Pursuit of Truth in the Service of Others

The University of Aberdeen Visiting Scholar Awards are available to researchers of all kinds wishing to make use of our historic collections for innovative research.

The University of Aberdeen’s rich and diverse collections consist of over 230,000 rare books, some 5,000 archive collections, and over 300,000 museum artefacts and scientific specimens. For details, see and

The Awards provide financial support of up to £2,000 to cover expenses incurred over a period up to 31 December 2022, while pursuing a research project directly relating to the University’s collections, and requiring access to these. Visiting Scholars will be given access to the collections in the collections research facilities of the Sir Duncan Rice Library and Marischal College, and will contribute to Friends of Aberdeen University Library and Museums and Special Collections activities. Applications for traditional research or creative, practice-based, or community-engaged forms of research are welcome.

We warmly encourage applications from researchers from a diverse range of backgrounds, and applications will be anonymized before the selection process.

Applicants are strongly advised to contact Dr Lisa Collinson with research enquiries, and especially enquiries about the feasibility of access to specific materials, as feasibility will be one of the assessment criteria:

Please note that applications which require use of exhibition or performance space in the Sir Duncan Rice Library, or involve community engagement, must seek approval prior to submission from Dr Jenny Downes: (Please also note that this address is not for queries about other administrative or academic matters.)

The awards are funded by the Friends of Aberdeen University Library, administered by the Aberdeen Humanities Fund, and hosted by University of Aberdeen Museums and Special Collections. Applications will be assessed by a panel consisting of representatives of these three bodies, and confirmed by an external assessor. Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their applications by email. Full details can be found on the application form. 

Please submit application forms by e-mail to by 5pm on Monday 25 April 2022.

2019 Visiting Scholars

Dr Désha A. Osborne

Dr Désha A. Osborne completed her PhD in English at the University of Cambridge; her research was the first full length study of the epic poem Hiroona: An Historical Romance in Poetic Form by Horatio Nelson Huggins. The first critical edition of Hiroona, for which she edited and provided the introduction, was published in 2016 with University of the West Indies Press.

Dr Osborne is an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Africana, Puerto Rican/Latino Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York where she teaches literature. She is this year’s Daiches-Manning Fellow at the University of Edinburgh in eighteenth-century Scottish Studies.

Dr Osborne’s time in Aberdeen will be spent researching the lives and legacies of Aberdonian immigrants to the Caribbean islands of St Vincent, Tobago, Grenada and Dominica, ceded to Great Britain in the years after 1763. One emigrant from Aberdeen, Alexander Leith of the Leith family of Freefield and Glenkindie (and by extension Leith Hall), is a legendary figure in St Vincent for his role in the Second Carib War of 1795. In 1795 he famously fought a duel with Joseph Chatoyer, the leader of the rebellion and paramount Chief of the Garifuna, resulting in Chatoyer’s death.

The manuscripts and records in the Special Collections Centre archives will reveal important information about his and other’s lives in Aberdeen and in the Lesser Antilles. The long-term goal of this project is to explore the unique relationship between Scotland and these islands in the Caribbean in the eighteenth-century.

Dr Eilish Gregory

Catholic Sequestration in Scotland, 1689-1745

Dr Eilish Gregory graduated with a BA (Hons) in History and a MA in Medieval and Early Modern Studies at the University of Kent before completing her PhD in History at University College London in 2017.

Her PhD thesis focused on Catholic sequestrations (confiscation of the personal property and landed estates of Catholics) during the English Revolution, and is now contracted as a book with Boydell and Brewer Press under the title Catholics during the English Revolution: Politics, Sequestration and Loyalty, 1642-1660.

Since completing her PhD, she has held short-term library fellowships at the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington D.C., the University of Durham, and Marsh’s Library, Dublin.

She is currently working part-time as a researcher for the Royal Historical Society and the History of Parliament Trust. Her book chapter ‘Queen Catherine of Braganza’s Relationship with her Catholic Household in Restoration England’ was published in autumn 2018 in the edited collection Forgotten Queens in Medieval and Early Modern Europe: Political Agency, Myth-Making, and Patronage, edited by Valerie Schutte and Estelle Paranque.

Dr Gregory’s postdoctoral research seeks to further explore the impact of Catholic sequestrations by expanding analysis of the penalty across Britain, Ireland, and the North American colonies from 1642 until 1745.

The project at the University of Aberdeen will assess how successfully sequestration operated in Scotland in 1689 to 1745. It will discern whether the 1707 Act of Union removed some political powers from Scottish officials into the hands of Westminster politicians, and the tactics Scottish Catholics used to protect the long-term interests of their property, especially when they were accused of Jacobitism.

The project will examine manuscripts that will reveal how Scottish Catholics responded to changes in the sequestration legislation, and their discussions with other Catholics and influential Protestants in their private correspondence. Likewise, there will be analysis of printed publications by the Commissioners and Trustees of Forfeited Estates in Scotland, which reported the practicalities of sequestration procedure in Scotland in the aftermath of the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion.

The pamphlets will reveal the extent to which Scotland maintained autonomy in assessments of sequestered Catholic estates, or whether the Committee in London attempted to assert authority over the Scottish commissioners.

Dr Monica Germana, University of Westminster

Sea Monsters, Superstitions and Magic: Mapping ‘Otherworldly’ Maritime and Insular Scotland

I am a senior lecturer in English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Westminster, London. My research focuses on the Gothic tradition, with a particular interest in Scottish Gothic. My strong interest in the legacy of traditional supernatural beliefs in contemporary Scottish literature emerges in Scottish Women’s Gothic and Fantastic Writing (EUP, 2010), which explores the influence of traditional supernatural motifs (doubles, witches, ghosts and otherworlds) in contemporary writings by Ali Smith, Ellen Galford, Emma Tennant and Sian Hayton among others. Besides a large portfolio of book chapters and journal articles in the field, my publications also include Scottish Gothic: A Companion, co-edited with Carol Davison (EUP, 2016).

The project I will be researching at the University of Aberdeen’s Library Special Collections, ‘Sea Monsters, Superstitions and Magic: Mapping ‘Otherworldly’ Maritime and Insular Scotland’, is part of a wider collaborative project on Scotland’s Arctic Connections, currently seeking funding from the AHRC. My contribution to the collaboration intends to identify specific cultural links between Scotland and the Arctic with two objectives. Firstly, the investigation of maritime superstitions and supernatural creatures featured in sources ranging from early-modern literature to accounts of polar explorations demonstrates the permeable boundaries between Scotland and the Arctic. Secondly, it re-imagines maritime Scotland and its northern archipelagos as ‘otherworldly’ territories where ‘out-of-this-world’ things can happen.

The study of these Arctic connections will reframe Scotland’s northern peripheries, a space conventionally cast in the regressive nostalgia of sublime aesthetics, within the Arctic’s poetics of enchantment and forward-looking possibility. I am particularly looking forward to reading rare materials such as Willem and Jan Blaeu’s Theatrum orbis terrarum, as well as Olaus Magnus’s Historia de gentium septentrionalium variis conditionibus. In addition to texts, I am also excited to be given an opportunity to see some very special artefacts, such as Dr Walker’s hortus siccus, a herbarium comprising plant specimens collected during some of the many expeditions in search for John Franklyn’s missing vessel and crew, and William Morris’s photograph album from his 1899 trip to Iceland. Finally, I also look forward to visiting the Circumpolar Collections at the University of Aberdeen’s Marischal Museum, which include an Inuit kayak, which apparently belonged to a ‘lost’ Greenlander who landed in Scotland in the 18th century.

2018 Visiting Scholars

Dr Amy Blakeway, University of Kent

War and Governance in Scotland, 1542-50

Dr Amy Blakeway is the author of Regency in Sixteenth-Century Scotland (Boydell & Brewer, 2015). Currently Lecturer in History at the University of Kent, she was a Junior Research Fellow at Homerton College, Cambridge, and in 2011-12 was the Fulbright Robertson Visiting Professor in British History at Westminster College, Missouri. Dr Blakeway has also held research fellowships at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities at the University of Edinburgh and the Huntington Library in California.

Dr Blakeway’s time in Aberdeen will be spent researching a new project on the impact of the Anglo-Scottish wars of the Rough Wooings on governance and life in Scotland. Although we know much about the military history of the largest Tudor invasion of Scotland, how central and local government responded to this strain, and how communities such as towns, universities and cathedrals were affected, remains to be explored. Aberdeen's unique records will play a key role in shedding light on this fascinating untold story.

Clare Loughlin, University of Edinburgh

Episcopalians and Catholics in Scotland’s North-East, c.1690–1745: Jacobitism, Missions, and Confessional Co-Existence

A graduate of the University of Oxford and the University of Edinburgh (MSc, 2015), Clare Loughlin is currently a PhD Candidate at Edinburgh. Her research focuses on anti-Catholicism in Scotland in the first half of the eighteenth century. With a particular focus on the north-east of Scotland, her two-week project at Aberdeen will explore Episcopalian confessional relations with Catholics in the years after 1690, particularly Episcopalian efforts to convert Catholics and extirpate ‘popery’ through Protestant missions. It will also examine reactions to the emergence of ‘popish’ Eucharistic practices in Episcopalianism, which will shed new light on the nature of Episcopalian anti-Catholicism. Overall, the project seeks to discern the extent to which Episcopalians and Catholics were united by their common commitment to the exiled Stuarts, providing new insights into Scottish religious dynamics in the years after the revolution of 1688–90.

Dr Irene O’Daly, Huygens ING, The Netherlands

Schematic annotations to Augustine's De doctrina Christiana: Aberdeen, MS 106 in context

Dr Irene O'Daly is a researcher on ‘The Art of Reasoning: Techniques of Scientific Argumentation in the Medieval Latin West (400-1400)’ project at Huygens ING, The Netherlands. She is a specialist in the intellectual history of the Middle Ages, with particular interests in the history of dialectic and rhetoric, medieval classical reception, manuscript studies, and the history of political thought. She has recently published a monograph entitled John of Salisbury and the medieval Roman renaissance (Manchester University Press, 2018).

Dr O’Daly’s current research concerns the use of visual and schematic devices in the medieval school and university classroom. During her visit to Aberdeen she will be working on MS 106, which contains a copy of Augustine's De doctrina Christiana (among other texts). Her study of the annotations to this text will help to further understanding about how this important work on interpretation and oratory was read in the Middle Ages. The visiting scholarship permits her to examine the manuscript in depth, thus situating the reception of Augustine's work within its appropriate material and cultural context, as well as improving our understanding of one of the oldest manuscripts in the collection.

2017 Visiting Scholars

Dr Aaron Denlinger, Department Chair in Latin, Arma Dei Academy,  Highlands Ranch, Colorado, and Adjunct Professor of Systematic Theology, Westminster Theological Seminary, Pennsylvania

The Theology of the Aberdeen Doctors and Henry Scougal (1650-78)

In addition to his appointments in the United States, Dr Aaron Clay Denlinger is Research Fellow for the Puritan Studies Program of the University of the Free State (Bloemfontein, South Africa). From 2013 to 2016 he served as Professor of Church History and Historical Theology at Reformation Bible College, Florida. Dr Denlinger is the author, editor, or translator of several books and numerous articles on early modern Protestant theology. His PhD explored developments in Protestant thinking on original sin and human solidarity in the Reformation and post-Reformation periods, while his postdoctoral research has increasingly focused on Christian theology and practice in early modern Scotland. Dr Denlinger’s publications include Reformed Orthodoxy in Scotland: Essays on Scottish Theology 1560-1775 (London: T & T Clark, 2015, as editor), and a translation of the Scottish divine Robert Rollock's 1596 Questiones et responsiones aliquot de foedere Dei, deque sacramento quod foederis Dei sigillum est, under the title Some Questions and Answers about God's Covenant and the Sacrament That Is a Seal of God's Covenant (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick, 2016).

His research at Special Collections will contribute to a chapter titled "The Theology of the Aberdeen Doctors and Henry Scougal" in Oxford University Press's forthcoming, multi-volume History of Scottish Theology.

Dr Miles Kerr-Peterson, freelance researcher

Thomas Cargill’s Translation of Six Books of Politics or Civil Doctrine (1589)

Dr Miles Kerr-Peterson completed his PhD at the University of Glasgow in 2016. His topic was the life, lordship and career of George Keith, fourth Earl Marischal (1553-1623) and the founder of Marischal College, one of the University of Aberdeen’s two antecedent institutions. Dr Kerr-Peterson’s research interests include the political, cultural, intellectual and religious life in James VI and I’s Scotland. Currently a Content Developer for Glasgow Life, he is also the co-founder and chairman of the Friends of the Wembdon Road Cemetery in Somerset.

Commenting on the Visiting Scholarship, Dr Kerr-Peterson says: ‘this award will allow me to research a previously unknown manuscript by the Aberdonian schoolmaster Thomas Cargill (d. 1602), namely his translation of the Flemish scholar Justus Lipsius’ Six Books of Politics or Civil Doctrine (1589). This was a practical moral guidebook on how to rule. It was dedicated to the provost of Aberdeen, and shows how the burgh was interacting with the cutting edge of European scholarship at the time.’

Dr Peter Ludlow, Diocese of Antigonish, Nova Scotia

‘More Catholic Highlanders than any four dioceses in Scotland put together’: Scottish Catholicism in Nova Scotia

Vice-president of the Canadian Catholic Historical Association and a historian of religion and culture in Canada, Peter Ludlow earned a PhD from Queen’s University Belfast, with a thesis on the “two-boat” migration of Irish migrants in 19th century Newfoundland. Dr Ludlow is the author of The Canny Scot: Archbishop James Morrison of Antigonish (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2015). His work has focused, broadly, on the interconnectivity of faith, ethnicity, migration and settlement within the British Empire. Currently writing a history of Catholicism in eastern Nova Scotia, his research focuses on the relationship between the Diocese of Antigonish and the Catholic Church in Scotland.

The Visiting Scholar Award will enable Dr Ludlow to use the late 18th century Scottish Catholic Archives holdings at Aberdeen in his examination of Scottish Catholicism in ‘New Scotland’. He will construct a profile of the missionary clergy and the people that migrated to Nova Scotia in this period, and particularly a philosophical profile of priests like Fr (later Bishop) William Fraser. Dr Ludlow says that this will enhance understanding of how Old World theology such as Jansenism helped Catholics in Cape Breton communities co-exist with their Presbyterian brethren.

2016 Visiting Scholars

Elizabeth Edwards, Emeritus Professor of Photographic History, De Montfort University, Leicester

Photographs, Sites, Monuments: The emergence of public histories 1850-1950

Elizabeth Edwards is a visual and historical anthropologist, Emeritus Professor of Photographic History, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK, and Emeritus Curator, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. She was elected Fellow of the British Academy, 2015. She works on the relationships between photography, history and anthropology, on their social and material practices, and on photography and institutions. She directed the PhotoCLEC project on photography, museums and colonial memory in contemporary Europe. Her most recent monograph is The Camera as Historian: Amateur Photographers and Historical Imagination 1885-1912 (2012). She is currently working on further aspects of the relationship between photography and history and on photography and the emergence of ideas of 'public heritage' 1850-1950.

Her time in Aberdeen will be spent on this latter project, working especially in the archives of Aberdeen photographer, George Washington Wilson. Wilson was one of the major players in the nineteenth century 'views trade'. Producing photographs especially for the tourist market, and in formats suitable for home albums , his firm’s photographs of views, abbeys and cathedrals became very widely disseminated and were an integral part of an increasingly visualised sense of the past in the late nineteenth century.

Dr Helge Wendt, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Coal in the Scottish Enlightenment: Contributions to a History of Science

In the second half of the 18th century, coal was a subject that was written about regularly. In French, German, Spanish and Italian publications, coal was discussed from various perspectives such as that of geology, chemistry, utility in production processes, mining and medicine. British publications on coal ranged from mining handbooks, early works on geology, economy and chemistry to treatises concerning social and environmental issues.

In the history of science, there is a proliferation of writings dealing with the new mathematics, medicine and the economy of the Scottish Enlightenment. Coal, the most important resource to enable the industrialization and economic development of this period and the global expansion of the British Empire, has received much less attention. This could be one of the reasons why the writings on black coal of the Aberdonian physician David Skene are still largely unknown, in contrast to his medical, “psychological,” religious and botanical works.

During my stay at the Special Collections Centre of Aberdeen University, I wish to research several geological studies of David Skene, which, among other themes, also deal with black coal. Skene, who was in contact with Europe’s leading natural scientists, was an important figure in the development of the Aberdonian economy. My research aims to bring to light the knowledge Skene had on the various issues related to coal in the fields of geology, chemistry and the environment, on its use in industrial production and the effects it had on human health.

The research forms part of a research project on Coal as a matter of history of science (1750–1850) which investigates the development of knowledge about coal in different scientific disciplines and institutional contexts in West European countries (France, the German states, the British Isles and Spain) and their colonial empires. The results of this project will be presented in a book publication and several articles published in scientific journals.

Dr Matteo Binasco, CUSHWA Center, University of Notre Dame, Rome

The Scots Community in the Eternal City: A New Assessment

After completing his BA in history at the University of Genoa, Matteo Binasco earned his Masters at Saint Mary's University of Halifax in Canada. He completed his PhD in history at the National University of Ireland in Galway. He has been a short-term fellow at the Institute of Canadian Studies in Ottawa and a fellow at the John Carter Brown in Providence. From February 2010 until January 2013 he was research fellow at the Istituto di Storia dell'Europa Mediterranea of Italy's National Research Council (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche). Since mid-September of 2014 he has been a post-doctoral research fellow at the CUSHWA Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the Rome Global Gateway, University of Notre Dame.

His main area of interest is the development of the clerical networks within the Atlantic area during the early modern period. He authored Viaggiatori e missionari nel seicento, edited Little do We Know, and published twenty-nine articles and essays. The Visiting Scholar research award offered by the University will enable Binasco to examine the records pertaining to the Scots College of Rome held in the Scottish Catholic Archives at the Special Collections Centre. His research will focus on the material relating to William Lesley, the procurator of the Scots clergy in Rome, and the first official archivist of the Sacred Congregation "de Propaganda Fide".

2015 Visiting Scholars

Jane McDermid, University of Southampton

‘Evenings Out in Urban Scotland, c 1870-1940’

Jane McDermid is Reader in Women’s and Gender History, Faculty of Humanities, University of Southampton. She holds doctorates in both Russian history and the history of Scottish education, the latter with a thesis on the schooling of working-class women. Dr McDermid’s research project, entitled ‘Evenings Out in Urban Scotland, c.1870-1940’, examines both social interaction between classes and sexes and the projection of local, national and imperial identities during the period, and considers the question of whether the notion of ‘the city’ as a theatre of social action is also applicable to smaller towns. Drawing upon our extensive local collections, Dr McDermid intends to use the award to examine the relationship between gender and civic identity distinctive to Aberdeen, which will in turn, she writes, ‘help me identify similarities and peculiarities of urban associational life throughout Scotland’.

John Stone, University of Barcelona

‘Libraries at the 18th century Royal Scots College in Valladolid & cultural transfer’

John Stone is Serra Hunter Fellow from the Departament de Filogia Anglea I Alemanya, Universitat de Barcelona. A graduate of McGill and Barcelona, he completed a PhD on Samuel Johnson in 2006, and has published extensively on Johnson and seventeenth and eighteenth-century print culture, particularly in Spain. Dr Stone’s four-week project in Special Collections looks at libraries at the eighteenth-century Royal Scots College in Valladolid and cultural transfer. Established in 1771 by John Geddes, Vallodolid was by the 1790s an early centre of English-to-Spanish translation. Using records from the Scottish Catholic Archives which are now on deposit at Aberdeen, Dr Stone’s research explores connections between manuscripts, books and individuals associated with the College. Some interlinear translations of Spanish songs, as part of the curriculum drawn up by Geddes, may constitute, Dr Stone says, ‘the first sustained, regular instruction in English-to-Spanish and Spanish-to-English translation in Spanish history’.

Samantha Walton, Bath Spa University

‘Mind, Place and Ecology in the work of Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Nan Shepherd.’

Samantha Walton joined us from Bath Spa University, where she is Lecturer in English Literature: Writing and the Environment. Dr Walton’s research addresses the relationship between mind, place and ecology in the works of Lewis Grassic Gibbon (James Leslie Mitchell) and Aberdeen alumnus Nan Shepherd, two prominent North East writers of the interwar Scottish Literary Renaissance. Her three-week project will access Grassic Gibbon’s correspondence and the personal papers of both Grassic Gibbon and Shepherd to reveal and document networks of communication between writers and reviewers in the modernist period. Dr Walton anticipates using her archival research at Aberdeen to contribute to three planned publications, including a monograph bringing environmental humanities perspectives to the study of interwar British literature and rural culture.