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From the Highlands to the Plains

“Every line of strength in American history is one colored in Scottish blood.”

When President Woodrow Wilson delivered these words, he was speaking an unquestionable axiom that remains prevalent today. Scottish-Americans are an essential part of our society and they permeate numerous aspects of our lives so much that we underestimate how much Scottish influence exists. Maintaining such heritage exists in a variety of forms such as Scottish and St. Andrews societies. Scots people celebrate Tartan Day on April 6th, which honors the Declaration of Arbroath and people wear traditional kilts and clan tartans. Burns Suppers held every January honor the memory of the Bard, Robert Burns, and 18th century Scottish poet who wrote and chronicled hundreds of poems that have become landmarks in Scottish literature, such as Auld Lang Syne.

Highland Games and Scottish festival are arguably the most recognizable aspect of Scottish culture. Athletic events and a shared community of Scottish clans exhibit Scottish heritage and engages the public in an educational and entertaining fashion. Scottish clan organizations bring people of Scottish ancestry together, by way of researching their family history and Scottish connection.

How does this pertain to Emporia State University? Does having a Scottish society and hosting a Highland game represent to whole of the heritage within Kansas? One answer lies with the community and individuals. The way to connect and learn about one’s Scottish ancestry is through genealogical research. Sometimes we recognize Scottish names, but making the connections with names is only the beginning.

For many years, I barely acknowledged the background of my middle name, McLane. However, after developing a strong interest in Scottish clan heritage and history, I learned through my great-grandfather George McLane that I was related to the MacLeans of Duart, a clan located on the Isle of Mull in the Inner Hebrides of Scotland. Realizing that I possessed Scottish ancestry, it only increased my love of learning all things Scottish- propelling me to study at the University of St. Andrews. I’m proud to wear my kilt and when people ask me about my Scottish roots, I’m always more than happy to tell them! Great numbers of people possess Scottish ancestry and with the right assistance in researching their genealogy and clan heritage, they can dive into a rich cultural landscape.

Perhaps you’re related to Clan Anderson, Ferguson, Armstrong or Sutherland? If your surnames are Douglass, Clark, Cockburn, MacDonald, Johnston, Ramsay, Gordon, Wallace, or among the many different names recognized by the Scottish government, you could indeed have ancestral connections. Scottish blood could be flowing through your veins and you can discover what it has to teach you.

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