Obituary: Joan Primrose Scott Ferguson, 84

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AN author and influential librarian at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh has died at the age of 84.

Joan Primrose Scott Ferguson will be remembered for a host of achievements including her contribution to Professor WS Craig’s monumental 1,100-page History of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Born to parents William and Janet Ferguson, who lived at Clarebank Crescent in Restalrig, the Glasite church played a big part in her life.

She attended George Watson ­Ladies College and went on to study for an MA in Scottish history at the University of Edinburgh.

After graduating in 1951, Joan went on to take a secretarial course and in 1952 she became the secretary to the librarian of the Scottish Central Library at Lawnmarket.

While there, she studied for a library qualification and became an associate of the Library Association in 1954, before she became the chief assistant in the Lawnmarket building. In 1960, her first book, Scottish Family Histories held in Scottish ­Libraries, was published.

It was an important book to genealogists and made Joan an obvious choice when a Scottish Central Library representative was needed on the Scottish Genealogy Society.

In 1966, she became the librarian of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, where she supplied up-to-date information to the fellows and members of the college, which quickly made her invaluable.

There she assisted with Prof Craig’s history book which was published earlier than scheduled to coincide with the college’s tercentenary in 1981.

Without her primary material and her impressive editing abilities, this invaluable work by might never have been completed.

She was good friends with college cashier Marjorie Lownie and also her counterpart at the library of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Dorothy Wardle, who she regularly met at the Edinburgh University staff club.

Shortly before retiring in 1994, the RCPE showed its appreciation by making her a fellow of the college – a real honour there are few non-medical fellows.

In 1984, she wrote the Directory of Scottish Newspapers and, in 1986, the revised, expanded edition of Scottish Family Histories. She was also a contributor to the Companion to Scottish Culture and a member of the Scottish Records Advisory Council from 1987–93.

Joan was secretary to the Scottish Genealogy Society and was influential in the set-up of the SGS library.

Joan became an MBE in 1997 was for services to genealogy. She had significant research talent herself and traced her own Scott ancestry back to 1775. She enjoyed a long and happy retirement and spent her final years as resident of Laverock Care home in Trinity.