Course: The Stories of Scottish Highland Immigration

Introductory Level: for all those keen to gain a deeper understanding of the history of migration from the Scottish Highlands to North America. No previous knowledge necessary, but familiarity with the interpretation of historical sources is helpful.

Plaque in Angus L Macdonald Library in Antigonish, Nova Scotia

Explore the stories of why, how, and when Scottish Highlanders immigrated to North America, what they said about their experiences, and what that immigrant legacy is today.

Scottish Highlanders have plenty to tell us about their lives – their fears, ambitions, and triumphs – in the songs and stories they left us in their native language, Gaelic. We’ll read and comment on these primary sources in English translation.

Texts composed by and for the Highland immigrant community itself should be the foundation of any informed discussion of their experiences. Mainstream histories either ignore the existence of these sources or treat them superficially, but used carefully they provide a deep mine of valuable insights that help to dispel the clichés and stereotypes that pervade the conventional representations of Scottish immigration and get us to a deeper appreciation of these stories.

Details about how the courses are designed and how they work are on this webpage.

What We’ll Do

Road sign in North Carolina
  • Identify the ethnic makeup of Scotland in the eighteenth century, the relationship between the Highlands and the rest of Britain, and reasons for the vulnerability of the people and culture of the Highlands.
  • Understand the social and economic transformations imposed on the Highlands in the early modern period and the repercussions on Highlanders.
  • Examine the typical patterns of emigration from the Scottish Highlands to North America: how they were organized, who led them, the pattern of destinations over time, the phenomenon of chain migration, etc.
  • Appreciate the dominant concerns Highland immigrants faced when settling in North America and how these are expressed and discussed in Gaelic song-poetry.
  • Assess the ways in which Highlanders did (or did not) organize themselves to celebrate and maintain their ethnic identity and heritage, and the ways in which Scottish Highland heritage as it is represented today compares and contrasts with the historical realities.
  • Have group discussions in this private FaceBook group (you will be accepted as a member if you try joining after you have paid for the course).

Course Texts

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