Jenni Calder at Scotland’s History Festival
In its third year of running, Scotland’s History Festival provides audiences with various events and speakers with the aim of educating and inspiring people about Scotland’s history and their place in the world.
One of those to grace the festival this year was Jenni Calder, author of many books including, Scots in Canada, Scots in the USA and Frontier Scots. Born in Chicago and partly educated in the United States, Jenni was able to talk authentically about life in the USA and Canada for Scots people throughout history. Jenni has resided in Scotland since 1971 and worked for several years as a part time teacher and freelance writer before going on to work for National Museums of Scotland, Museum of Scotland and latterly becoming Head of Museum of Scotland International. She has written and lectured widely on Scottish, English, and American literary and historical subjects and writes fiction and poetry as Jenni Daiches.
During her one hour slot at the festival she managed to cover many areas from the first expeditions of Scots to America and Canada, the recreational purposes of emigration and the promise of attaining land which in the 1800s was a large part of emigration. She explained that people came over for these purposes and then took up work such as stonemasons and weavers and their success in this encouraged more and more Scots to emigrate.
The event took place in New Register House just off the bustling Princes Street where the setting could not have been better. A large circular room with floors lined with books as far as the eye can see provided the perfect backdrop for Jenni to discuss her work. With an audience of over thirty people eager to hear the stories behind the books Jenni certainly didn’t disappoint and managed to keep the audience intrigued throughout before opening up the floor for questioning at the end and with her books on sale afterwards it gave people the chance to learn further if they hadn’t already.
Overall it was a very successful event and through her vast knowledge and incredible enthusiasm Jenni was able to give great insight into the struggles and triumphs that Scots faced when emigrating.