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Collection GD5 - James Shaw Grant, 1910-1999, journalist, writer, crofting advocate

Identity area

Reference code

GB3002 GD5


James Shaw Grant, 1910-1999, journalist, writer, crofting advocate


  • 1900-1999 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

46 boxes

Context area

Name of creator

Grant, James Shaw, 1910-1999, journalist, writer, crofting advocate (1910-1999)

Biographical history

James Shaw Grant was born in Stornoway in May 1910. He was a major influence on life in the Highlands and Islands in the last century.

He graduated from Glasgow University in 1931 with distinctions in English, mathematics, history and political economy. His father had established the Stornoway Gazette during time in Lewis as a reporter for the Highland News and James took over from his father as editor in 1932. He was editor for 31 years until he had to vacate the position when he became Chairman of the Crofters Commission. His strong sense of community came across during the difficult times for the Island.

In 1943 during his time with the Crofters Commission, he proposed and pressed for a change from crofting to tenancy and he was appointed Secretary of the Lewis Association playing a major part in collecting and writing reports on the social and economic problems of the Island.

He was a supporter of the Scottish Community Drama Association for which he wrote many plays throughout his 50 year association with them. He was a member of the Highlands and Islands Advisory panel and also a director at Grampian TV. In 1956, he broadcast an audio tour of Stornoway called A Gaelic Capital on BBC Scotland.

He was involved with many groups including Eden Court, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, H.I.B.D and the Harris Tweed Association of which he was Chairman from 1972-1984. He was nicknamed “The Quango King” by the West Highland Free Press.

He was a direct descendant of Roderick Morrison, the Blind Harper who was brought from Edinburgh by the Chief of the Macleod’s to be Bard at Dunvegan.

He wrote many books including Highland Villages, The Gaelic Vikings, The Enchanted Island and A Shilling for your Scowl. He received an OBE in 1956, a CBE in 1968, Royal LLD (Aberdeen) in 1979 and was made a fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society in 1973 and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1982. James Shaw Grant died aged 89 in July 1999.

Archival history

The collection was previously held by Acair publishing company in Stornoway. It was decided by Acair, Lews Castle College, the Museum and the Library that it should be kept in the Library.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Transferred from Stornoway Library (accn 2011/004)

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Highlands and Islands Development Board 1964-1984; Crofters Commission 1960-1977; Pitlochry Film Theatre 1948-1981; Macaulay Rhodesia Trust papers 1950-1961; Grampian TV 1975-1976; Speeches by James Shaw Grant 1949-1978; Conferences 1953; Research papers 1958-1998; Plays and scripts by James Shaw Grant 1957-1959; Short stories 1930-1990; Radio scripts/narratives 1956-1963; Newspaper articles 1929-1993; In Search of Lewis 1980-1990; Contributions 1961-1964; Correspondence 1932-1996; Photographs 1900-1990; News articles 1930-1950; Publications by others 1935-1998; Articles from publications 1963-1998; Annuals and handbooks 1958-1997; Harris Tweed 1961-1990

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


System of arrangement

Arranged into series. Within series, items have been arranged chronologically.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access


Conditions governing reproduction

Language of material

Script of material

Physical characteristics and technical requirements

Published books, paper files, photographs, negatives, CD-ROM, discs. Some manuscript notes are written in shorthand, newspaper cuttings, handbooks.

Finding aids

Digital item list available in searchroom of Tasglann nan Eilean Siar

Allied materials area

Existence and location of originals

Existence and location of copies

Related units of description

Notes area

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Description identifier

Institution identifier

Rules and/or conventions used


Level of detail

Dates of creation revision deletion




Rights area

Accession area