The MacKinnon Collection | Can you help identify these images?

The National Galleries of Scotland and National Library of Scotland are in the process of cataloguing the 14,000-strong MacKinnon Collection of photographs. Jointly acquired by the organisations in 2018, the collection - also known as Scotland's Photos - provides a snapshot of life in Scotland between 1840 and 1940.

Unknown photographer Man selling fruit and vegetables from a cart in a flooded street 1928

In 2020, as we continued to open windows into the MacKinnon Collection, we posted images connected to specific locations across Scotland from the collection on our website and Facebook page.

Our aim was to seek the public's range of backgrounds and experiences to identify unknown people and landmarks, lend knowledge of historic industries, businesses, transport, costume, sport and more, spot historic inaccuracies and contribute relevant descriptive information.

We are delighted by the response we received and your diverse knowledge, expertise, insight and interest is helping us document the MacKinnon Collection with the goal of providing greater access to this remarkable photographic resource. Scroll down to take a look at the images below. Do you recognise anything or anyone? Please email: [email protected]

Alexander Pitkethly Meeting of the Red Cross Institutes, Edinburgh Waverley Station 1890


There are a great number of photographs of the capital held within the MacKinnon Collection. We can't wait until you can browse these online. Until then, here is a selection, taken between around 1860 - 1910. Recognise a person or landmark? Please email us: [email protected] 

Clockwise from top: George Washington Wilson Calton Hill, Edinburgh 1860s-1880s; James Valentine Edinburgh, The West Bow 1860s-1870s; Unknown photographer Kiln drying timber at Leith 1870s
Clockwise from top: Unknown photographer Morningside District Ensemble, Edinburgh 1908; John Patrick George St., Edinburgh early nineteenth century
Clockwise from top: Unknown photographer McCaig Tower, Oban about 1890s-1910s; George Washington Wilson George St., Oban 1860s-1880s; George Washington Wilson Oban Bay and Sound of Kerrera 1860s-1880s


We are excited to share these images of late nineteenth century Oban as part of our ongoing exploration of the 14,000-strong MacKinnon Collection of photographs. Please share your observations with us by email: [email protected]

Clockwise from top: Valentine & Sons Barking the Nets, Stornoway about 1900; James Valentine The Herring Fleet at Stornoway, Lewis. (Morning) 1860s-1880s; James Valentine Stornoway and Castle 1860s-1870s


We're thrilled to be able to share these images of Stornoway from the MacKinnon Collection. As the documentation process continues, we hope to be able to share more with you. For now, if you recognise a person or landmark, please email us: [email protected]

Clockwise from top: Unknown photographer Playing chess at Perth about 1926; Unknown photographer High Street, Perth 1900-1930s; E. T. W. Dennis & Sons Ltd High Street, Perth 1930s


Our latest exploration of the MacKinnon Collection of photographs brings us to Perth. Share your views with us via email: [email protected]

Clockwise from top: Unknown photographer Dresswear Shop, Stirling 1890s; Unknown photographer Curling Bonspiel at Carsebreck Loch, Stirling 1926; Unknown photographer 79th Highlanders Stirling Castle about 1856


These images were taken in Stirling between 1890 and 1926. If you recognise anyone, or would like to comment on the photographs, we'd love to hear from you! Please email us: [email protected]

Clockwise from top: Unknown photographer, Aberdeen tram, early twentieth century; George Washington Wilson, Duthie Park, 1860s-1880s; Unknown photographer, Packing Herring, about 1920.


Passionate collector Murray MacKinnon steadily built the 14,000-strong MacKinnon Collection of photographs at his home in Dyce, near Aberdeen. Unsurprisingly, the collection contains a great number of wonderful photographs showcasing life in the Granite City.

We're thrilled to share this first selection of them as we continue to ask for the public's help to document the collection. Recognise a person or landmark? Please email us: [email protected]

Unknown photographer, King’s College Library, Aberdeen, late nineteenth century.
Unknown photographer, Kiltmakers at Aberdeen Barracks, 1895.
Clockwise from top: Anderson, The Royal Train Coming to Elgin, 1872; Unknown photographer, Tea driers, 1870s; Unknown photographer, High Street, looking east, Elgin, 1930s.


We are thrilled to share images of Elgin (taken between 1860-1940) as part of our ongoing exploration of the 14,000-strong MacKinnon Collection of photographs.


Unknown photographer, Morning Prayers, Gorbals Primary School, Glasgow, 1943.
Unknown photographer, John Brown's Shipyard Glasgow The Launch of the Oronsay, 1924.
George Washington Wilson, George Square Glasgow, 1860s-1880s
Unknown photographer, Glasgow Salvage Corps, 1891
Clockwise from left, George Washington Wilson, Linn of Dee, 1860s-1880s; James Valentine, The Braemar Gathering, 1860s-1870s and Attributed to George Washington Wilson, A bagpipe lesson, 1860s.


The popularity of Braemar as a destination in the late nineteenth century is reflected in these shots taken by photographers George Washington Wilson and James Valentine. As we continue to shine a light on images from the MacKinnon Collection, we're keen to hear from anyone who may be able to help us apply more specific dates to these photographs. As ever, please get in touch via email: [email protected]

J Dryburgh, Lawn tennis tournament St Andrews, 28 August 1886, 1886

St Andrews

We're really enjoying our exploration of the MacKinnon Collection, and are thrilled to share these images taken in St Andrews between the 1860s and 1930s.

As always, we'd love to hear from anyone who recognises a person or landmark in these photographs!

Valentine and Sons, The Harbour, 1930s
Thomas Rodger, Rock and Spindle St Andrews, 1860s


Do you recognise anything (or anyone) in these images of nineteenth century Shetland? As we continue to open windows into the MacKinnon Collection, we're asking you to contribute any observations you may have on the photographs. Recognise a person or landmark? The team would love to hear from you! Please email: [email protected]

Clockwise from top: Robert Henderson Ramsay, Dressing Shetland Shawls, about 1900; George Washington Wilson, Bressay Lighthouse, 1860s-1880s; James Valentine, Peat Carriers, 1860s-1870s.
Clockwise from left: Unknown photographer, A Shetland Peat Carrier, early 20th century; Raising Peats, about 1910; James Valentine, A Shetland Crofter, 1860s-1870s.


Unknown photographer, Sandgate, Ayr, 1930s.
Photographer unknown, The beach at Ayr, about 1890s.
Unknown photographer, Two elderly men sitting outside, Market Scene and Young boy eating in street, 1904.


These snapshots were taken within the City of Discovery between around 1904-1940. 

Unknown photographer, High Street, 1940s Davidson Brothers, Sunlit docks, about 1910 and unknown photographer Street scene, 1904.
Valentine & Sons, Dundee from the Law, 1910-1920, Davidson Brothers High Street, Dundee, 1900-1910 and unknown photographer, Reform Street, 1920s.


Unknown, Group of People and Cart in Flooded Street, Brechin, 1890s-1910s
George Washington Wilson, Brechin from the Bridge, 1860s-1880s
Unknown High Street, Inverness, 1920s-1930s


These fascinating snapshots were taken in the Highland capital between around 1860-1930. We have featured a couple of images by George Washington Wilson and James Valentine, but there is also work here by unknown photographers, such as the shot of the High Street, pictured right. Do you recognise anything, for example a business, that might help us more accurately date these images? We're really excited about these images and can't wait to hear from you.

From top: Unknown, Caledonian Canal, Muirtown, Inverness, about 1900; James Valentine, Inverness, from Huntly Place, 1860s-1880s; George Washington Wilson, The Ness Islands, Inverness, 1860s-1880s.
Clockwise from top: George Washington Wilson, Group on bridge; The Castle and Bridge, Inverness and Caledonian Canal from Tomnahurich, 1860s-1880s.

North Berwick

We were thrilled to discover a number of photographs of North Berwick within the collection.

Clockwise from top: James Valentine North Berwick, Unknown North Berwick, The Rowers 1898 and George Washington Wilson Quality St. North Berwick.
Clockwise from top: James Valentine Canty Bay, North Berwick, Craig Leith from North Berwick and Unknown North Berwick Law.


Unknown Bridge Street, Kirkwall early 20th century
Unknown Kirkwall Harbour early 20th century
George Washington Wilson St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall c 1860s-1880s
James Valentine Earl's Palace, Kirkwall c 1860s-1870s
Photographer unknown Group with creels at Buckie Railway Station dated 1906; George Washington Wilson The First In and Buckie from the east c 1860s-1880s.


We were thrilled to share these images of Buckie, particularly those of the town's railway station, which closed in 1968.

The main image shows a group waiting on the station platform with creels. Professor Peter Reid of Robert Gordon University explained that they were likely to be travelling inland on the train to sell fish door to door. 

The other images, taken by George Washington Wilson, show views of the town that are little changed today. Professor Reid noted that the boats on the shore will be Zulus and Fifies. This could be ahead of the advent of the steam drifters in the 1900s, dating the image in the late 1880s.

Week one

We began this project in early May 2020 by sharing these three images. Almost immediately, visitors were able to identify the main photograph. It shows the path running between Crovie to Gardenstown, east of Banff.  We are updating the photograph's catalogue entry accordingly!

The MacKinnon Collection was acquired jointly with the National Library of Scotland with assistance from National Lottery Heritage Fund, Scottish Government and the Art Fund.