William John Gibson Collection

William John Gibson OBE (c.1865-1944) was the first rector of the Nicolson Institute from 1894 to 1925. The collection was bequeathed to the museum by his daughter Lady Jane Urquhart and it offers a hugely significant view of life in Stornoway, Lewis and further afield. 

The Gibson family corresponded regularly, especially after Jane Gibson left Stornoway to attend Aberdeen University in October 1916, and their letters provide a personal and often humorous insight into the social history of the town, as well as the educational developments in the school. Mr and Mrs Gibson also made a tremendous effort to correspond with ex-pupils who were serving in the front lines during the Great War and these letters stand as a testimony to the huge sacrifice that the islands made to this conflict.   

Many of the letters from the collection along with essays written by school pupils on aspects of life in Lewis have been digitised and transcribed. Some of these are available to view on our blog. Many of the photographs from the collection have also been digitised.

Studio photo of W J Gibson (1865-1944), first Rector of the Nicolson Institute, Stornoway

The collection includes the following sections/ series:

  • 1992.50.1-5                   Medals 1909-1926
  • 1992.50.6-39                 Publications and Semi-Published Material 1857-1946
  • 1992.50.40-43               Miscellaneous Writings c.1883-c.1940
  • 1992.50.44-48               Nicolson Institute Pupils’ Schoolwork 1905-1910
  • 1992.50.49-51               Travel 1926-1940
  • 1992.50.52-55               Miscellaneous Documents 1885-1932
  • 1992.50.56-62               Education and Career 1884-1922
  • 1992.50.63                    Letters: Family correspondence (Gibson & Laird families) 1874-1921
  • 1992.50.64.i-ix              Letters from Mr and Mrs Gibson to Jean Gibson 1916-1926
  • 1992.50.65                    Letters from Mr Gibson to Jean from his travels 1928-1930
  • 1992.50.66                    Letters from Jean Gibson to her parents 1915-1923
  • 1992.50.67                    Letters from Harry K L Simpson to WJ Gibson 1884-1890
  • 1992.50.68                    Letters & postcards from friends & acquaintances 1890-1905
  • 1992.50.69                    Correspondence on school matters to WJ Gibson 1902-1916
  • 1992.50.70                    Correspondence from former pupils on active service 1914-1917
  • 1992.50.71                    Correspondence from former pupils (not on active service) 1915-17
  • 1992.50.72                    Letter book from Mrs Gibson to Mr Gibson 1884-1888
  • 1992.50.73-129             Photographs: Family and Friends
  • 1992.50.130-144           Photographs: Stornoway and Lewis
  • 1992.50.145-195           School Photographs
  • 1992.50.196-199           Military Photographs
  • 1992.50.200-203           Photographs: Travel and Geology
  • 1992.50.204-242           Documents re deaths of two shepherds on Rona, 1885

A fuller catalogue can be downloaded here.

School images

Below is a sample from our collection.

Click on the images below to scroll through our image gallery:

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