Friday, July 11, 2008

Kerr's History of Curling online

The cornerstone of any curler's library is John Kerr's History of Curling and Fifty Years of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club. The book was published in Edinburgh by David Douglas in 1890. It grew from the idea to celebrate the RCCC jubilee in 1888 by having a 'sketch of the Royal Club's history in the past fifty years'. Kerr's book turned into a scholarly treatise about the history of our sport, and is a fascinating read today.

The book is now online, courtesy of Electric Scotland. Every one of the more than 400 pages has been digitised and set out in chapters for the website. The book index can be found here.

The Electric Scotland website is huge! It is the brainchild of Alastair McIntyre. He created it first in Scotland in 1996, but it is now hosted in Canada where McIntyre now lives. On the website you will find a wealth of information on the history of Scotland, about the Scots, Scots-Irish and those of Scots descent around the world, Scottish clans, tartans and genealogy. Alastair has prepared a series of videos about each section of the web site, see here!

The project to create an online version of Kerr's History of Curling was announced in May this year, and the first couple of chapters were online by May 16. The project was completed in little over a month! The complete book, with all its illustrations, is now online. I find that quite amazing!

What I like about the website, and Alastair's efforts, is that the future has been considered. The site will be left to the Scottish Studies Foundation of Toronto and through them it will eventually reside on the McLaughlin Library computers at the University of Guelph and run by the Centre for Scottish Studies at that University. This will ensure that all the content will be preserved for future generations.

So, how does this help the curling historian? Having History of Curling online means that the content is searchable. Let's say we wanted to find out what Kerr has to say about the Coupar Angus and Kettins club, which David has pointed out recently (in the Scottish Curling Forum here) is the curling club with the longest continuous history, with the minutes to prove it. A Google search with the club name throws up a link to the Electric Scotland pages, and to Chapter 4 of History of Curling about Ancient Curling Societies. Try the link here.

A large format copy of Kerr's History of Curling in Bob's collection. It is open at the beginning of Part 11, Modern Curling: The Transition Period. See how this looks online here.


Andrew Kerr said...


The efforts of yourself and David are very much appreciated.The Electric Scotland site is amazing.


It's not true that the two of you are taking over from Jack and Victor in the next series of Still Game, is it ????

Anonymous said...


Your Blog is fascinating. The history of curling is both intriging and multi-faceted. Your efforts to present this history in an interesting and readable manner are commendable.

I am looking for information about the early roots of curling in Scotland (if in fact that is where the game's roots truly are... I know there is some debate on the origin of the game) and also for information about the history of the production of curling stones made from Trefor Ganite from Wales. Also do you know where I might find information about the quarie, extraction, and production methods used for stone making?

Kim Perkins

Anonymous said...

The Rev. John Kerr was one of my great-grandfathers. I would appreciate being contacted at by anyone who has knowledge of his life and works -- many of which have been lost to the family since his death.

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Ohh, i think the electric Scotland history is really great!!! i like all kind of history but this one fascinate me.