Emigration from Scotland between the wars

Opportunity or exile?

Author: Marjory Harper

Emigration from Scotland has always been very high. However, emigration from Scotland between the wars surpassed all records; more people emigrated than were born, leading to an overall population decline. This book examines emigration in the years between the two world wars of the twentieth century. Although personal persuasion remained the key factor in stimulating emigration, professional and semi-professional agents also played a vital part in generating and directing the exodus between the wars. Throughout and beyond the nineteenth century Scottish emigration was, in the public mind and public print, largely synonymous with an unwilling exodus from the highlands and islands. The book investigates the extent to which attitudes towards state-aided colonization from the highlands in the 1920s were shaped by the earlier experiences of highlanders and governments alike. It lays particular emphasis on changing and continuing perceptions of overseas settlement, the influence of agents and disparities between expectations and experiences. The book presents a survey of the exodus from lowland Scotland's fishing, farming and urbanindustrial communities that evaluates the validity of negative claims about the emigrants' motives vis-a-vis the well-publicized inducements offered through both official and informal channels. It scrutinizes the emigrants' expectations and experiences of continuity and change against the backdrop of over a century of large-scale emigration and, more specifically, of new initiatives spawned by the Empire Settlement Act. Barnardo's Homes was the first organization to resume migration work after the war, and the Canadian government supervision was extended from poor-law children to all unaccompanied juvenile migrants.

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