Found It in the Archives Winner 2016


Read Stewart's winning entry below and be sure to keep a lookout for worthy archival finds of your own!
Found It in the Archives 2016 Winning Entry
Searching is often the first step to revelation. However, it is precisely when a person is not looking, that they often find the extraordinary. Such was the case for me, when I stumbled upon a fairly unremarkable book within the Archives beneath the E.K.U. Library. Reading the title, The Surnames of Scotland, I casually thought of finding my mother’s maiden name, but what I found after was both interesting and exceptional. Within the pages of George F. Black’s book was a vast treasure horde of information regarding the creation and formation of Surnames within Scotland since the eleventh century. Within minutes of discovering the book’s actual use for me as a Creative Writer (for all names mean something, in reality and fiction) I attempted to absorb all information available. While the interesting facts of this book are seemingly limitless, I feel it only fair to give a few details of my own discoveries. First, “nicknames are rarely ever the cause of a Scottish surname.” (pg. XIXX) In fact, it is far more likely that “the name-holder’s station under the aristocracy was the cause of their given name.” (pg. XXVIII) As hunting was the sport of the higher class, certain officers employed by the aristocrats were given names matching their position that they held. “Forester, is an example of one such surname.” (pg. XXVIII) This information has given me the knowledge to look at nearly everyone I meet with an understanding that I had not had before. “Another interesting fact was often that the names of the Aristocrats matched the names of the land they owned.” (pg. XXV) On a personal level, I was able to identify my mother’s maiden name and therefore find more about my own history. I discovered that Simpson, is a derivative of Symson, which is simply the son of Sym. These bits of information are what makes the Archives more than a simple resource. Finding resources is much easier than it used to be, especially with the internet only a click away. Relying on the information already online makes researching a less foreboding task, but what sets the Archives apart is the exploration of things precious, hidden, and old. Curiosity brought me into the Archives, but the past of our ancestors and stories of a world long lost are what have ensured my inevitable return to the rich halls of forgotten knowledge underneath the Library.