Collection of 3 diaries and 81 letters, written by Mrs Isabel Duncan, whilst accompanying her husband, William Duncan, master of the barque, Scotia, of Banff, on voyages to the West Indies, some eastern ports of North and South America, South Africa, Mauritius and Ceylon, as well as various European and British ports, 1878 - 1893.
The diaries, 1878 - 1882, may have been intended as accounts of voyages to be read by members of her own and her husband's family, one of whom, James Duncan, was in charge of the movements of the vessel from his office in London. Captain Duncan's father or brother, John Duncan, lived at Kensington, near Garmouth in Morayshire, where Captain and Mrs Duncan stayed during 1892 - 1893, allowing the Scotia to sail under another master while deciding whether to retire from the sea altogether. A transcript of a portion of the earliest diary, made by John A. Robertson (donor), covering the period Aug - Sept, is also included with the collection.
The letters fall into 2 groups. Those for the earlier period (MS 2526/ 5/ 1 - 38), from 1880 - 1886, are all addressed by Mrs Duncan to sisters, sisters-in-law, or nieces, from various ports, and give accounts of events during voyages, activities at, and descriptions of places visited, foreign customs, comment on home letters received, etc. Unfortunately, the majority give no clue as to the surname of the recipient and members of families are referred to by Christian names only: one of Mrs Duncan's sisters, Miss Nellie Harper, was a schoolmistress in Leith, and apparently Mrs Duncan had also been a teacher before marriage, and attended training college (MS 2526/ 5/ 26). Other sisters appear to be married to farmers, one living near Balgaveny, by Huntly, Aberdeenshire, while a sister-in-law, Miss Ann Duncan, lived latterly at Kingston, Garmouth.
The second group of letters (MS 2526/ 6/ 1 - 46) are addressed to a friend, Mrs Gooderidge, 21 Aire St., Goole, Yorkshire, and were written during voyages until 1892, and then from Garmouth during residence there. The correspondence breaks off abruptly with the intimation of the serious illness of Captain Duncan when staying with Mrs Gooderidge while attending to ship's business in Goole, in 1893.
For a fuller account of the collection see Colin MacLaren and Margaret A. Stephen, Reports and Surveys of Archives in Northern Scotland, Northern Scotland, I, (1973), 231 - 232