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Homecoming Scotland 2009

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Scottish rock star comes home to the ScotlandsPeople Centre in Edinburgh.

Famous Scots exhibition – Shirley Manson
25 May – 17 July 2009

Singer and actress Shirley Manson revisits her own Scottish family in the latest 'Famous Image courtesy of Rob McDougallScots' exhibition at the ScotlandsPeople Centre as part of the Homecoming celebrations.

Shirley, now living and working in California, is a singer, songwriter and actress with an international reputation as the face and voice of the rock group Garbage, and as a solo performer.

Shirley Manson said: “I’m honoured to be included in the 'Famous Scots' exhibition. It's great to be part of an event to celebrate my Scottish roots, of which I'm very proud. I'm looking forward to seeing what the experts in ScotlandsPeople find out about my ancestry for this exhibition.”

George MacKenzie, Keeper of the Records at the National Archives of Scotland welcomed Shirley and members of her family to the new exhibition.

He said: “I am delighted that Shirley and her family have been able to come home and celebrate their own personal ancestry with us. These exhibitions, which have previously featured Billy Connolly and Sir James Black, are proving hugely popular, giving people a much more individual insight to our shared past and some of our biggest stars’ family stories.

“These stories are inspiring and fascinating and they are available to everyone for free. I encourage as many people as possible to see these impressive exhibitions at ScotlandsPeople Centre for themselves and, those unable to physically join us here in Edinburgh, to investigate their own family ancestry through the website.”

Marie Christie, Project Director Homecoming Scotland 2009, said; “Homecoming Scotland is delighted to be working in partnership with the ScotlandsPeople Centre to stage the ‘Famous Scots’ exhibition in 2009. Ancestry is a key theme for Homecoming Scotland and visitors to the exhibition can see not only Shirley Manson’s family history but undertake their own genealogical research.”

Image courtesy of Rob McDougall

Shirley's father's family come from the Shetland Islands, with at least five generations living in the fishing living in the fishing community of Hillswick. The exhibition will look at the island fishing industry, and visitors can see old films of Shetland life. Her grandfather left the islands to join the Royal Flying Corps (later the R.A.F), and then to follow a career as a commercial traveller. Shirley's mother was adopted and the exhibition explores the touching story of her natural parents.

During Homecoming, experts in the ScotlandsPeople Centre will be delving into the ancestry of three further celebrities, and the rolling exhibition will show visitors how easy it is to trace their own Scottish family history. In the coming months a further three Famous Scots will be the focus of exhibitions.

The exhibition is being staged in the new ScotlandsPeople Centre, Edinburgh, surrounded by over half a million registers recording the lives of Scots going back more than 400 years.

Image courtesy of Rob McDougall

For people not able to visit the Centre, the key genealogical resources of ScotlandsPeople are available online at

Notes to editors

Famous Scots
The ‘Famous Scots’ exhibition during Homecoming Scotland 2009 is supported by Homecoming Scotland, as a key part of the ancestry theme of the Homecoming year.

Each of the six exhibitions takes a Famous Scot and reveals aspects of his or her ancestors’ occupations, where they lived, and how their lives were shaped by the changing society to which they belonged.

The exhibition also shows visitors how easy it is to begin a search for their family history in the Centre. All the documents used are available to the public, and similar records can be used to trace anyone's Scottish ancestry. An interactive resource gives beginners a step-by-step guide, and is also available on-line.

Shirley Manson is the third subject in the exhibition series, following comedian Billy Connolly and scientist Sir James Black. The names of the next three celebrities will be released during the year.

Shirley Manson
On Shirley's mother's side the exhibition features a governess in Sutherland who had an illegitimate child put up for fostering and adoption. Most of Shirley's father's ancestors are recorded as Shetland fishermen, including James Reid, Shirley's great-great-great-great-great grandfather, the earliest ancestor featured, born around 1750. This hard and dangerous livelihood, and the Shetland Islands generally, feature prominently in the exhibition.

Best known internationally as the face of the alternative rock group Garbage, Shirley has performed at major rock events on five continents and sold 17 million albums including Garbage (1995), Version 2.0 (1998), Beautiful Garbage (2001) and Bleed Like Me (2005). Shirley has embarked on a new phase of her performance career: a major acting role in the popular Fox TV drama Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Shirley actively supports various AIDS charities, including working with the Elton John AIDS foundation and as a patron of Waverley Care, Scotland’s largest charity providing care and support to people living with HIV and Hepatitis C.

Shirley Manson was born in Edinburgh in 1966. She grew up in the Comely Bank area and attended the Flora Stevenson Primary School, where she received tuition in recorder, fiddle and clarinet. She took extra-mural classes in dance and piano. She attended Broughton High School and the City of Edinburgh Music School. Throughout her school days Shirley took part in various amateur dramatic and musical performances, including singing with Waverley Singers, a well known Edinburgh girls choir, a preparation for her later career.

In her teens Shirley was approached to be a backing singer by Edinburgh pop group Goodbye Mr Mackenzie. Quickly, she developed into a prominent member of the group and demonstrated her formidable stage presence. Spotted in a video by an American record producer she was invited to the U.S. to record the first Garbage album.

The ScotlandsPeople Centre
The ScotlandsPeople Centre is a new family history centre for visitors to get easy access to key resources for Scottish genealogy. It features the most complete publicly-searchable family history database in the British Isles, and gives instant access to more than 50 million digital images to the statutory registers of births, deaths and marriages (from 1855), the old parish registers (1553-1854), the censuses (1841–1901), wills and inventories (1513–1901) and the Register of Arms (1672–1908). It also includes registers of divorces from 1984 and civil partnerships from 2005.

Everything has been digitised so that all the records are available on a computer screen at every desk.

The Centre is housed in General Register House and New Register House next door.

ScotlandsPeople is a partnership between the General Register Office for Scotland, the National Archives of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon.

For more information about the exhibition and the Centre, please visit

Homecoming Scotland 2009
1. Homecoming Scotland is funded by the Scottish Government and is managed by EventScotland, the national events agency, in partnership with VisitScotland, the country’s national tourism agency.

2. Homecoming Scotland 2009 aims to engage Scots at home as well as motivate people of Scottish descent and those who simply love Scotland, to take part in an inspirational celebration of our culture, heritage and some of the many great contributions Scotland has given to the world.

3. 2009 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns, with the programme's design guided by Scotland's unique position as the home of Burns himself, Golf, Whisky, Great Minds and Innovations, and Scotland’s culture and heritage which lives on at home and through Scotland’s global family.

4. The budget for Homecoming is £5 million and the target is for an 8 to 1 return on investment i.e. £40 million revenue additionality.

5. For more information on Homecoming Scotland please visit:


Pete Wadley
Mobile: 0774 206 2108
Office 0131 535 1353


Tristram Clarke
Mobile: 0796 296 3727
Office: 0131 535 1353

Images courtesy of Rob McDougall;