Postgraduate Spotlight: Darren S. Layne

DSCN3948Originally from the suburbs of Detroit, Darren Scott Layne spent much of his life in and around the San Francisco Bay Area before making good on his childhood threat/dream of invading Scotland. He came to study in St Andrews by a circuitous route that meandered between business and academia, using one as a tonic for the other to the minimal detriment of both. The academy was never on his docket until a perfectly-timed, late-night history course in community college took him by the scruff of the neck and shook him awake, and the rest…well, is history.

Darren obtained his BA (High Hons) at University of California Berkeley where he focused on the Eastern Front in World War II and 18th-century Jacobite Britain under the late, great Tom Barnes. He worked for a few years before moving to Edinburgh in 2003 to undertake his MSc (Dist) in Scottish History, narrowing his study to the role of impressment and coercion within the Jacobite ranks in the Rising of 1745. After moving back to San Francisco to tan up his ivory-tower-whitened skin, the clarion call of a terminal degree beckoned him back to Scotland where St Andrews saw it fit to allow him entry into the Scotland and the Wider World Project under the keen eye of Professor Steve Murdoch.

Darren’s doctoral project is a secret blend of Scottish History and its application within theIMG_6277 Digital Humanities, alchemically distilled into an ambitious study called The Jacobite Database of 1745. JDB1745 is a prosopographic examination of the social history of Jacobitism that seeks to answer many questions about the agencies of Jacobite support and constituency. Drawing from a wide variety of sources, its goal is to eventually house every name that can be associated with Jacobitism in the years 1740-1759. Beyond the findings that will make up his doctoral thesis, Darren’s curation of JDB1745 is destined to be a life-long project that will provide a significant contribution to the discipline of Jacobite Studies for historians and genealogists alike.

In addition to his academic duties, Darren is the current curator of the Twitter and Facebook accounts for the Institute for Scottish Historical Research at St Andrews, as well as the webmaster for The Scottish Society for Northern Studies. He is a keen advocate for green Open Access and digital preservation, and strongly supports technology education at all levels of learning. He transcribes historical documents for digitization at Scotland’s Places and Papers of the War Department, and once a year he helps to organize a historical wargaming day for the National Trust for Scotland at the Culloden Battlefield.

IMG_5621Aside from spending long stints at the archives where he has been reprimanded more than once for smelling the documents too enthusiastically, Darren has spent twenty years in the analog gaming industry and dedicates much of his time to the running of his business in San Francisco, the venerable Gamescape North – a hub of hobby and community for hundreds of people. He is an avid painter, a student of pugilism, and cares more than he should about the San Francisco 49ers. He currently lives in Edinburgh with a librarian, a few dozen fountain pens, and two aging California cats who can barely remember what laying in the sun was like.

Follow the Jacobite Database project at the website above or on Twitter and Facebook, and feel free to keep your eye on Spines of the Thistle, a Virtual Research Environment for Jacobite Studies that is currently in development.

IMG_5669