New book puts photos in the frame

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After decades of research by his descendants, a new book has been published on the unique photographs of Archie Chisholm.

Procurator Fiscal at Lochmaddy in North Uist from 1881 to 1913, Archie was a keen amateur photographer and champion of crofters’ rights.

This new book  by Michael Cope makes it possible for the first time to appreciate the significance of his images of the Outer Hebrides in late Victorian and Edwardian times, drawn together here from museum archives and private collections.

His photographs reflect life, work and play in the Western Isles – cattle marts and village fairs, fishing and golf, whaling and crofting, family gatherings and eviction – but above all, Hebridean landscapes and seascapes.

Photographs of the same scenes today highlight changes, or the lack of them, over the last 100 or so years. Delightful images show his own
family and neighbours in North Uist relaxed and having fun, picnicking on the beach or at local festivities.

As a campaigner for improved communications, Archie took a keen interest in chronicling Western Isles ferries and one very striking image shows a horse being hoisted onto a steamer.

This book will be of special interest to those interested in the history of the postal services in the Western Isles, for Archie created a Cairt Phostail series showing his own images and local postmarks are reproduced here beside
the postcards. Locations are identified in a map section with information on the sources of all images and their dates.

Michael Cope first became interested in the Outer Hebrides when studying the South Harris geological complex as an undergraduate. He collaborated on some of the fieldwork for this book with his brother-in-law, Alastair Chisholm, who instigated the project, and continued it following Alastair’s death in 2010. Michael now lives in Dorking, Surrey.