The McManus 168 supporters group is celebrating the end of a project that has collected information on the original 261 subscribers who contributed in 1863 to the Albert Institute, now known as The McManus: Dundee’s Art Gallery & Museum.
Over 100 volunteers, many with no previous experience of archive work and ranging in age from 16 to 80+, have discovered exciting stories about the movers and shakers of Dundee in the 1860s. Cannibalism, bigamy, entrepreneurial spirit, fraud and adventures in Archangel sit alongside the huge contribution the subscribers made to the development of Dundee and to Scotland’s industries. The project team worked with two of Scotland’s most prominent historians, Professors Jim Tomlinson and Chris Whatley.
Sue Moody, Chair of The McManus168 group said
"This project has brought together so many people who are passionate about Dundee and its history, from communities all over the city. They share the same enthusiasm for Dundee that subscribers showed in funding the Albert Institute 150 years ago."
Iain Flett, former City Archivist commended the project and believes that:
“The research carried out by the volunteers is a cornucopia of information on Victorian Dundee and its diaspora, its financial as well as its artistic wealth. It will prove most useful to social and economic historians, both academic and amateur.”
The volunteers who took part found it really rewarding and interesting. As one retired volunteer, Susie Cathro, who has lived in Dundee all her life said
“I've been padding round the streets of Dundee with completely fresh eyes. I'm so much more aware of what was going on 150 years ago, where it was happening.”
The project has its own song, written by a descendant of a Dundee MP, James Yeaman, and it will be performed for the first time at the celebration this evening. Visually stunning artwork by Dundee’s Finest was created especially for the project (with the help of Cornerstone), including a model of The McManus. Banners have been designed that will take these stories out to Dundee’s communities. Eddie Small, well-known local author and playwright, has written a dramatic interlude specially for the evening.
The project has been funded by Heritage Lottery, with additional support from Awards for All Scotland, Leisure & Culture Dundee and the Dundee Common Good Fund. Sponsorship came from two firms whose founders are on the subscribers’ list, Thorntons Solicitors and Halley Stevensons. Thanks are due to the many people who helped make this project a success.
The subscribers’ stories are now available to view on the project’s website at www.mcmanus168.org.uk This is a permanent record free to access. The website will stay open for another year so that anyone with information about the subscribers can share their knowledge.