The EAW and educating women on the power of freedom

image of a blue magazine with title "The Electrical Age" in a spiky futuristic-looking font

EAW Magazine, Summer 1937

Sorting through the records of the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science my eye was caught by the striking blue cover of a magazine, The Electrical Age.  It had the feel of an early Flash Gordon film title about it. On closer inspection I discovered that it was a 1937 publication about electricity which was aimed at women. Immediately I wanted to find out more.

The Electrical Association for Women (EAW) was founded in London in 1924 with the aim of helping women Continue reading

It’s all in the chemistry: Mary Andross and food research

black and white photograph of woman pouring milk into a pan with a laboratory display around her.

Mary Andross  demonstrating her research at the College’s Nutrition Centre, The Empire Exhibition 1938

Mary Andross (1893-1968) joined the staff of the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science (GWSCDS – later named The Queen’s College, Glasgow) in September 1924 as lecturer in Chemistry but her influence extended far beyond its walls. She is remembered more widely for her pioneering development of training for dieticians and the research she carried out on the nutritional content of foods.

After graduating with a BSc from the University of Glasgow, she worked with Professor George G Henderson, eventually becoming a Chemistry Assistant Continue reading

The Minority Male

Usually when we hear about education in the early 20th century it is of a sphere dominated by men. Male professors, teachers and students thrived in a world where women were generally regarded as the lesser sex.  But at the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science the opposite was true. It was an institution led by a succession of women Principals who championed the role of women in education. Thousands of women entered its doors to be trained in Cookery, Housewifery, Laundrywork, Dressmaking, as teachers of Domestic Science, Dieticians and Institutional Managers. Upon glancing at the student registers and class photographs – seeing them full of names and faces of women – one may think men were barred from entry.  However, this was not the case.

The first male students appeared in April 1915. This was during World War I and soldiers had to cook for large numbers of servicemen Continue reading

The Tale of Gordon McCulloch

It’s an odd feeling this, sorting through someone’s papers when you didn’t know them. I never met Gordon McCulloch. And now that he is gone he’ll always remain somewhat opaque. Yet as I read his correspondence, see the handwritten addendums to letters, the typed and re-typed drafts of university essays, slowly, almost by osmosis; a narrative starts to form.

Here’s a story for you. Three men appear side by side in two photgraphs. In the first they are rakish and young, cigarettes aglow. Smiles – though present – are guarded. A tilt of your head and they are thirty years older. Re-united, they stand arm in arm. Hair greyed, age has told upon them. Smiles (and stomachs) much broader. Such is life. They are The Exiles: Bobby Campbell, Enoch Kent and Gordon McCulloch.

I see a jovial man, a natural raconteur, steeped in the folk tradition. A lifelong musician and collector of urban legends. A graduate of Stirling University – I leaf through his dissertation, appreciating the work and scholarly effort. I read entreaties from academics, asking him to present papers at conferences, exemplifying the high regard in which he was held by his peers. Articles and letters to newspapers show a buzzing, constantly active mind, a keen intellect continually pushing forward (the irony being that his life’s work was the preservation of the past).

But what I don’t know are the little details. His favourite tipple, what made him laugh? Such things are not revealed in his papers. The minor key notes in the music of life, the small aspects that coalesce into the intricate mosaic of what it is to be a person. That Gordon, I’ll never meet. That Gordon remains for the people who loved him, family and friends. The Gordon McCulloch in my mind exists in broad strokes, in articles and scribbled poems, in correspondence with Sandy Hobbs and his work for the Jimmy Mack show and so much more besides. It seems to me a life well lived, a full life.

Yet though I knew not the true man, part of me is presumptuous enough to feel Gordon may have approved. His papers, passed on from his family to Glasgow Caledonian University Archives, have now been initially surveyed and will in turn be fully sorted and catalogued. In this way his memory is shared and broadened. He becomes what he dedicated his life to – a story, a myth, his own folk tale.

Gordon McCulloch (left) with his Exiles bandmates Enoch Kent (centre) and Bobby Campbell (right) circa 1964/1965.
(From the papers of Gordon McCulloch)


Gordon McCulloch (right) reunited with his Exiles bandmates Bobby Campbell (left) and Enoch Kent (centre) at a tribute event for Norman Buchan. Glasgow, 24th February 1991.
(From the papers of Gordon McCulloch)

~ David Ward, Archive Assistant.


Tackling food poverty: from peacetime to wartime and back again

Over the festive season people are busy shopping, partying and feasting on rich food. For many, it is a time of extravagance and over-indulgence but it is also a time to remember that there are people who are less fortunate and need help to avoid poverty and hunger.

At the end of the 19th century, it was families struggling on low incomes that the Glasgow School of Cookery (GSC) and West End School of Cookery aimed to help, not just within their own walls, but by taking their knowledge and expertise out into the community. Teaching staff travelled widely around Glasgow and the towns and villages further afield, Continue reading

Cooking up a College Catalogue

photograph of document boxes and volumes on shelvesOn first walking into the archive store and seeing the rows of shelves lined with fascinating objects, books, folders and boxes of different shapes and sizes, it is hard not to compare them with larder shelves, especially  knowing that the archive collections are from cookery schools and a college of domestic science.  Each shelf holds an assortment of coloured packages which when opened reveal the ingredients that provide the different flavours of life that went on within those institutions.  These are the archives of three of Glasgow Caledonian University’s predecessor institutions and The Wellcome Trust has funded a 12 month project, “Poverty, Health, Diet and Education in Glasgow: from Domestic Science to the Allied Health Professions, 1875-1993”, to sort, catalogue, preserve and share the collections.

On the menu we have two starters, the Glasgow School of Cookery (1875) and the West End School of Cookery (1878), rival cookery schools Continue reading

Organised Memories 1

The theory of Eternalism was first posited by the metaphysician J.M.E.McTaggart. As I would assume with metaphysics in general, it’s rather a dense notion to get one’s head around[1]. It suggests that the past, present and future are all equally ‘real’ – that events are not only happening now, but both have been and will be simultaneously as well.

At least I think that’s the crux of it.

I bring this up because it chimes with my experience of working in Archives and Special Collections. Since starting I’ve handled, sorted, lifted, counted and been left covered in dust by a host of materials. Each in their own way has fascinated me. Take, for instance, the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement (written about so eloquently in previous blogs by Julia Wylie). Here was a cause I knew about in the abstract, after it had been folded neatly into history and its narrative through line clearly established. It was only when sorting through the records, chronologically ordering the papers, sifting through minutes of meeting after meeting, flyer upon flyer, letters back and forth, that I gleaned some semblance of feeling what it must have been like at the time, when the history had not yet been written and the outcome not yet defined.  From hastily scribbled tea stained notes to correspondence with cabinet ministers, the archive is a monument to the work done by so many women and men. Moving from year to year, their urgency and dedication is apparent and alive. You are with these people; you see their struggles and disagreements, their consolations and victories. The past becomes their present and from the vantage point of the future you are at one with it.

A few months ago I was sorting through the papers of Sandy Hobbs – including boxes of comic books from the 60s and 70s. Along with the perennial Beanos and Dandys there were a host of others with which I was unfamiliar. A couple of days later I was speaking to my dad, telling him what I had been doing at work. Without prompting he started reeling off comic title after title, telling me which ones he would get and how they were delineated between him and his brother. I thought about working in the Archive Centre Reading Room, every inch of every table covered in these comics. They were part of my dad’s youth and of countless other boys and girls.  They exist in each of their memories, and now, neatly organised, they have a place in mine.

David Ward – Library Assistant

© Leo Baxendale 1966

We at the Archive Centre were saddened to hear of Leo Baxendale’s passing . He kindly granted us permission to create a postcard of one of his Scottish CND drawings in 2006.
His memory will live on here at GCU in our Sandy Hobbs Collection.

Carole McCallum – University Archivist


[1] I really do mean dense. See here for proof:

If these walls could talk…

Image 1 ~ © Larry Herman; image 2 ~ Hernando Fernandez papers; image 3 ~ Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement papers; image 4 ~ © Bob Starrett; image 5 ~ Robert Climie papers

Michael Chaiken, Archivist and Curator of the Bob Dylan Archive in Tulsa, Oklahoma, recently wrote that the “archivist’s impulse…affirms that what has come before can be made eternally alive and present, provided, as Nietzsche reminds us, that what we are celebrating in our own history is not an end in itself, but a means of serving life through a fundamental continuity with the strengths of our past.”

To this end, as a neat visual rendering of this impulse, our Archivist, at the tail end of a year in which some posited that we needed to be reminded of our collective past in the light of certain re-emergent nihilistic tendencies, decided that our shiny, new (but very stark, white) Reading Room required a frieze to adorn it’s walls. A series of images, illustrating the depth and breadth of GCU’s Archives & Special Collections, were then carefully selected, and in the week before Christmas the stars at our Print Design Services worked their magic on our walls.

And so now our users find themselves encircled (and hopefully inspired) by images of our collective past. So far, everyone, from students, researchers or just pop-in visitors passing by our windows, has remarked on its appeal. It would seem that one cannot help but be drawn in by it, to peek and peer at the stories on our wall, and it has been fascinating to me to see how every viewer is drawn to different images and indeed sees them differently; it confirms our innate fascination with our past, of how we lived then (and the simple yet sublime power of these images is rendering the past as just so ~ as ’we’, not ‘them’).

Some images speak for themselves, and trigger personal memories, ~ Nelson Mandela united in smiles with a packed George Square. Others possess a mystery and power which is innate (yet increases once you know the personal details) ~ a sepia shot of a group of men in the winter outdoors pose smiling in front of a giant ‘Socialism’ snowball (WW1 conscientious objectors in a work camp, their principles spelled out amidst the harshest of conditions).

Other guests have been drawn to the small details, not noticed on first viewing, such as the image of Nelson Mandela and Brian Filling of the Scottish AAM. One notices their smiling, celebratory faces, beaming for all the world to see, and yet it is only after a few further glances that one draws one’s eyes away from their faces and sees that these two middle-aged men in suits are tightly holding hands. Elsewhere, a satirical cartoon has Margaret Thatcher, equally tightly, grasping onto the fundamentals of a striking worker.

Elsewhere, the aesthetic power is undeniable ~ the graphic beauty of a Chilean political poster, or the stark sublimity of Larry Herman’s Glasgow photographs ~ capturing a common humanity that transcends lenses, geography and history. Herman’s haunting industrial shots also transcend their environment almost to the point of science fiction; the past as a different planet, let alone place.

The innate idea of a frieze represents continuity, encirclement, an unbroken chain of connection. These images may be frozen in time, but their power is thawed out by our looking upon them. What has come before passes on and surrounds us now. There actually is no end to history, despite the claims of some (as 2016 undoubtedly illustrated).

As Michael Chaiken concluded ~ “In this regard, preservation is the enemy of nihilism and evinces a simple hope: that the future lasts forever.”

~ Símon Docherty, Archive Assistant

Politics and Cartoons – guest blog by Sandy Hobbs

freetodraw01In 2016 Sandy Hobbs added a large cartoon/comic related deposit to his existing collection at GCU. Our debut exhibition of 2017 is ‘Free to Draw: Cartoonists and their Politics’, which draws from both Sandy’s material and from Bob Starrett’s papers. As an introduction Sandy has kindly penned a blog for us ~

In the 1990s, when I moved material from my home to GCU to form what became the Sandy Hobbs Collection, the basic loose principles of selection were that  what was included would be POLITICAL  and from my PAST. Some of what I retained at home might well have gone, but other considerations were at work. Some correspondence with my still living friend Jean McCrindle seemed more personal than political. Writings by E. P. Thompson I kept by me because I still felt the need to consult it regularly. Continue reading

Namibia and The Frontline States


Eight months ago when I first began working on the Scottish Committee of the Anti-Apartheid Movement Archive I thought that I would largely be working on papers that had either a focus on South Africa, or Scotland and the UK’s efforts to draw attention to and end the apartheid regime. Naturally, these papers did form an extensive part of the collection, however I found a significant amount of files and papers related to Namibia and a group of countries that formed the Frontline States which bordered, or were in close proximity, to South Africa, these included Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These countries all played their part in helping to support the global anti-apartheid movement and bring an end to the terrible regime.

Continue reading