What’s cooking in the “Poverty, Health, Diet and Education in Glasgow” project

A Wellcome Trust Research Resources Project

We are now two-thirds of the way into the twelve month Wellcome Trust funded project “Poverty, Health, Diet and Education in Glasgow: from Domestic Science to the Allied Health Professions, 1875-1993”. The collections of the Glasgow School of Cookery, West End School of Cookery and the Queen’s College, Glasgow (formerly the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science), are looking very different to when I introduced the project in my first blog, ‘Cooking up a College Catalogue’, back in December. The once colourful shelves filled with an assortment of volumes, boxfiles and miscellaneous boxes have now been transformed into a wall of uniform green archive boxes. Perhaps not so visually stimulating to look at, but giving a real feeling of satisfaction to see so many of the records arranged, cleaned, catalogued and preserved for future access.

Each box, filled with yellow archive folders containing the records, now gives no clues to its contents except for the all-important reference code written on the side, providing the link with the catalogue entry in AtoM. So far five sub-fonds (groupings of records reflecting institutional functions) have been created, including Governance; Institutional Administration; Finance; Building and Campus Development; and Student Administration, which together fill 156 boxes.

The AtoM catalogue for the collections is not live online yet but, once it is completed and launched, anyone with internet access will be able to search the collection to discover the wealth of information held in the collections. We have, of course, been giving tasters of what I’ve found as I work through the records, sharing stories and images through monthly blog posts and twice-weekly tweets.

The archives team have also been involved in community and public engagement events to share information about the project and collections. It was a real pleasure to give an introduction to the work I have been doing at an alumni afternoon tea at the University. Afterwards, it was fascinating to chat with former staff and students of the College, many of whom had personal memories to share of the people and events that I knew of only from the written records and photographs. One of these people was Mary Andross, a former College Head of Science. I had learned a lot about her pioneering work in nutrition and dietetics, particularly from research papers and newspaper cuttings in the collection. This material was used to feature her, not just in one of my blog posts, but also in the Glasgow Science Festival Monumental website, telling the stories of the often forgotten Scottish women of science. During the Science Festival I gave a talk about Mary Andross in the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow /GCU lecture, an event entitled “Visualising the Two Marys”.  It was an interesting evening looking at Mary Barbour, the political activist, Mary Andross, their impact on Scottish politics and science, and looking at women’s economic activism today.

photograph inside lecture theatre showing audience listening to Kirsty Menzies with presentation on large screen in background

Presenting at the “Two Marys”, Glasgow Science Festival event, June 2018

A scrapbook illustrating the work of the College in helping to improve public health through nutrition education was created by the archive team for the Food for Thought event at the Festival. At the event, residents of the Queens Cross Housing Association and their family and friends were treated to a healthy meal whilst learning about how it was cooked and a dietetics specialist from the University talking about the science of the nutrition behind it. The event resonated strongly with echoes of similar community events delivered by the College throughout its long history, drawing parallels between what was shown in the scrapbook and the community and public engagement work being done by its descendant institution today.

Read a copy of the scrapbook:

For the next few months I will be busy working on the remaining uncatalogued records and preparing a digital exhibition of the collections with the help of the archives team. The exhibition and online catalogue will be launched towards the end of the project but in the meantime there will still be plenty tweets and blog posts to keep you entertained.


Kirsty Menzies

Wellcome Trust funded Project Archivist

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