Printed Sources

The following provides a brief guide to the main categories of printed material other than books and articles (for which see the online Bibliography) that contain useful material for the study of life and society in Dumfries and Galloway.

Broadsides and Chapbooks

Before the advent of cheap newspapers and books, broadsides and chapbooks were the main source of printed news and entertainment for the masses. They cover topics as diverse as crime, emigration, politics and superstitions, and reproduce popular ballads and songs from the period. As such, they can be a key source for ethnological study. Examples relating to Dumfries and Galloway can be found in Broughton House (within the Macmath Collection), the Dumfries Archive Centre (within the Miller Collection), the Ewart Library, Glasgow University Library (within the Murray Collection) and the National Library of Scotland.

For online examples of broadsides and their historical context, see the following digital resources: National Library of Scotland, ‘The Word on the Street’ (; University of Glasgow, ‘Glasgow Broadside Ballads’, See also Cowan, T and Patterson, M. Folk in Print: Scotland’s Chapbook Heritage, 1750-1850, Edinburgh, 2007.


Directories of various types were published in Scotland from the seventeenth century to the mid twentieth century. Postal directories provided an alphabetical list of a location’s inhabitants with their address and profession, and sometimes also included a trades’ directory listing the inhabitants alphabetically by their professions. There were also specialist commercial directories, such as those published by Pigot and Slater, and ones that concentrated on particular institutions, such as banks or churches. Often used by genealogists to complement Census records, directories are also of value to historians and ethnologists. They can, for example, be used to chart the growth of towns, to examine the social structure of a local community, or to investigate the development of professions and trades. Directories sometimes also contain information about local events, such as fairs and markets.

For more information about Scottish directories and online examples, see the National Library of Scotland’s ‘Scottish Post Office Directories’ web pages: The holdings of the Dumfries and Galloway Council are listed in Researching Local History. A Guide to Sources held by Dumfries and Galloway Council, Dumfries, 2009, 47-49.

Magazines and Journals

The following list is not intended to be comprehensive, but rather to indicate the range of material available in such sources. The Gallovidian Quarterly/Gallovidan Annual, for example, contains essays on topics relating to local history and archaeology, and shorter entries on subjects ranging from legends to local worthies. It also printed stories and songs sent in by readers, and book reviews. Essays, tales, anecdotes and local notices were among the items published in the Dumfries Monthly Magazine and Literary Companion, which included Allan Cunningham and John Mayne among its contributors. The Dumfries Academy Magazine includes essays, short stories, jokes and more submitted by past and present pupils. Accounts of rural life in Galloway by Ian Neill can be found in Country Life. The contemporary magazine, Dumfries and Galloway Life, has a section on ‘Towns and Villages’ and another on ‘Heritage’. The Scots Magazine has featured items from Dumfries and Galloway throughout its long existence, more recent examples being articles on the haaf-netters of the Solway and on the Galloway Levellers. First published in 1862, the Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society is the pre-eminent journal for articles on the antiquities, archaeology, genealogy, geology and natural history of Dumfries and Galloway. All of the volumes from Series I and Series II are available online, as is an index for all the volumes published between 1862 and 2008. See for details.

  • Country Life (1897-)
  • Dumfries Academy Magazine (1912-84)
  • Dumfries and Galloway Life (2006-)
  • Dumfries Magazine (1776-77)
  • Dumfries Monthly Magazine and Literary Compendium (1825-1827)
  • The Gallovidian (1899-1919)
  • Gallovidian Annual (1920-49)
  • The New Moon, Crichton Royal Institution Literary Register (1844-1937)
  • The Crichtonian (1937-60)
  • The Scots Magazine (1739-)
  • Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society (1862-)

Maps and Plans

Detailed maps of Scotland have been produced for a wide variety of purposes over the past 250 years or so. From the estate maps of eighteenth-century agricultural improvers to modern-day tourist and leisure maps, they provide a rich and diverse body of evidence for the ethnologist to explore. Most obviously, maps provide information about local topography, settlement and land use patterns, communication networks and other physical features. They are also an important source of place-names, which can provide insights not only into language use and change, but also into everyday activities and mentality. How their contents are presented, and what is omitted, moreover, can reveal the cultural and political attitudes of those who commissioned them. Individually, maps provide a snapshot of a place at a particular period in time; collectively, they allow comparative study over both time and place. The ‘Maps of Scotland’ website ( provides access to high-resolution, zoomable images of over 44,000 maps of Scotland, including many relating to Dumfries and Galloway. These and many other maps can also be consulted at the National Library of Scotland’s map reading room. A range of local maps are also available for study in libraries and archives throughout Dumfries and Galloway.


Plans are another useful source for studying local life and society. Characteristic of the age of improvement, they record in detail the often dramatic changes made to the Scottish landscape and to the everyday lives of the people from the mid eighteenth century to the present day. They can provide information about field names and boundaries, crop acreage, the names and holdings of tenants, planned agricultural improvements and other aspects of farming life. They can also offer insights into urban life, including feuing patterns, the advance of public utilities, such as gas and water, the location of businesses, and the names of streets and residents. Detailed plans also often survive for industrial developments, from small-scale concerns in towns and on landed estates to large-scale enterprises, and for improvements to bridges, railways, harbours and other transport infrastructure. Architectural plans reveal the form, function and layout of a diverse range of buildings, from grand public buildings to modest cottages. In addition, some plans are decorated with vignettes that provide further valuable information about, for example, agricultural implements and practises, clothing, buildings and the local landscape. The most comprehensive collection of Scottish plans is held by the National Records of Scotland (see Copies of Dumfries and Galloway material from this collection are held in the Dumfries Archive Centre.



With their focus on news, observations and local notices, the historical newspapers of Dumfries and Galloway contain a wealth of material for the ethnological study of the region. The Dumfries and Galloway Standard Advertiser of the 1870s, for example, had two sections in particular, ‘Local Affairs’ and ‘Local Intelligence’, that reported on general conditions in Dumfries and reproduced lectures on local history and politics. Elsewhere it reported on meetings of the presbytery, local festivals, rural affairs, importation of grass-fed Irish cattle, prices of coal and corn, local trials, and so on. The adverts also provide information about local businesses and trades. The Dumfries and Galloway Courier and Herald included columns about local subjects, under the heading ‘Notes and Queries’. Many of the questions (which were submitted by ‘Dumfriesians and Gallovidians in all parts of the world’) were answered by eminent scholars, authors, local historians and museum curators. Most of them were collected in: Mackie, C. Dumfries and Galloway, notes and queries upon matters of history, genealogy, archaeology, folklore, literature, etc … relating to the County of Dumfries and the burgh and district of Galloway, Dumfries, 1913. Newspapers also carried poems, songs, stories and similar material submitted by readers, providing a glimpse of the folk culture of Dumfries and Galloway.

While only local newspapers are listed here, material relevant to Dumfries and Galloway can also be found in national and other newspapers, such as the Caledonian Mercury. An online index for some local newspapers is available at Printed indexes for others are available at local libraries in Dumfries and Galloway and at the National Library of Scotland. For details, see the latter’s Guide to Scottish Newspaper Indexes at Modern editions can be consulted online.

Annan Observer and Annandale Advertiser (1869-74)

  • Annandale Herald (1862-69)
  • Annandale Herald and Southern Advertiser (1869-73)
  • Annandale Herald and Moffat News (1874-1926)
  • Annandale Record (1920-26)
  • Annandale Herald and Record (1926-71)
  • Annandale Observer and Advertiser (1875-1971)
  • Annandale Observer (1971-)
  • Castle-Douglas Weekly Visitor (1829-32)
  • Dumfries and Galloway Courier (1816-84)
  • Dumfriesshire and Galloway Herald (1835-39)
  • Dumfriesshire and Galloway Herald and Advertiser (1839)
  • Dumfriesshire and Galloway Herald and Register (1845-84)
  • Dumfries and Galloway Courier and Herald (1884-1939)
  • Dumfries and Galloway Standard (1843-45)
  • Dumfries and Galloway Standard and Advertiser (1845-1980)
  • Dumfries and Galloway Standard (1980-)
  • Dumfries Courier (1977-)
  • Dumfries Mercury (1715?-1721)
  • Dumfries News (1962-86)
  • Dumfries Times (1833-42)
  • Dumfries Weekly Journal (1777-1833)
  • Eskdale and Liddesdale Advertiser (1848-)
  • Galloway Advertiser and Wigtownshire Free Press (1843-1961)
  • Galloway Gazette (1870-)
  • Galloway News and Kirkcudbright Advertiser (1928-31)
  • Galloway News (1931-)
  • Kirkcudbright Advertiser and Galloway News (1859-1928)
  • Kirkcudbright Stewartry Times (1862-70)
  • Moffat News and Annandale Herald (1914-26)
  • Moffat News and Times (1926-71)
  • Moffat Times, Register and Upper Annandale Advertiser (1861-74)
  • Moffat Times and Annandale Observer (1875-93)
  • Moffat News (1971-)
  • Newton-Stewart Journal (1911)
  • Newton-Stewart Journal and Wigtownshire Times (1911-12)
  • Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press (1844-)
  • Wigtown Free Press (1976-83)
  • Wigtown Free Press and Stranraer Advertiser (1983-99)
  • Wigtownshire Free Press and Galloway Advertiser (1962-69)


Parliamentary Papers

Parliamentary Papers is the collective term for published materials published on behalf of the UK Parliament. Within this large series of publications there is much information that is of interest to ethnologists and to those studying Dumfries & Galloway more generally. For example, many commissions of inquiry published the minutes of evidence given to them. These minutes of evidence provide first-hand testimony from individuals on a range of subjects, including poor laws (1844), education (1867), agriculture (1881) and housing (1917).

A good starting-point for those wishing to investigate this body of source material is the online resource House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (,  which also carries material from the House of Lords. Also of use for more recent events is the Official Report of the Scottish Parliament. This can also be found online (


Programmes have been printed for many of the organised events held annually in Dumfries and Galloway over the years. They are of great use to ethnologists not only for the snapshot they provide of a single event, but also for the information they present over a number of years that can be used to study cultural continuity and change. Prominent examples include the programmes produced for the annual ridings held in Dumfries, Kirkcudbright and Langholm, which usually contain lists of events, pictures of the main participants, route maps for the ridings, and advertisements. Copies of such programmes can often be found in libraries. The Ewart Library, for example, has a selection of programmes for the Guid Nychburris event held in Dumfries, dating back to 1932.

Programmes have also been produced for one-off events, such as exhibitions or shows, and they too offer interesting glimpses of local life and society and insights into the mentality of the time. One example is the souvenir programme produced for the Highland Show held in Dumfries in 1910, which includes a section ‘Dumfries (Illustrated) today: with Original Views of Local and Historical Interest’ and a historical chapter ‘A Highland Visit in the ‘Forty-Five’.

Tourist Guides

Since the advent of popular tourism in the nineteenth century, guidebooks have been produced by town councils, railway companies and others for visitors to Dumfries and Galloway. They are useful for charting the changing nature of tourism to the region, the impact of transport developments, how local and regional identities have been constructed, and more. The advertisements that often feature in large numbers in such publications can be used to chart changing social and cultural patterns. A wide selection is held in the Ewart Library and in the National Library of Scotland.