Banner Tales – Glasgow and the Anti-Apartheid Movement – 13th October 2018

On a rainy Saturday afternoon stands were assembled, banners unfurled and hung. Pencils sharpened and leaflets laid. All in preparation for the attendees, as they arrived to mellifluous South African music that melded soon with memories regaled.

This was Banner Tales, an event organised by Glasgow Museums, Glasgow University Geography Department, Glasgow Caledonian University Archive Centre, ACTSA Scotland and Nelson Mandela Scottish Memorial Foundation with the support of the Raphael Samuel History Centre. The two banners under discussion were from the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Archive held in GCU Archive Centre and Glasgow Life. Each authentic to the time period and rich in colour and history.

One of many events throughout October as part of Black History Month, it also coincided with the week of the 25th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s visit to Glasgow on the 9th of October 1993 to receive the freedom of nine cities.

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What’s in a name? Royal connection of the Queen’s College, Glasgow

A Wellcome Trust Research Resources Project


It was during its centenary year in 1975 that the College received its royal title, the Queen’s College, Glasgow.  Before that it was called the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science (Incorporated), a name dating back to 1908 when the two Glasgow cookery schools amalgamated to form the College.   At that time it described very precisely (if not concisely) the function of the College, but after the passage of sixty seven years the name no longer fitted its purpose.  Continue reading

Electrifying Domestic Science – guest blog by Eleanor Peters

Eleanor Peters is a University of Aberdeen PhD student. She has been using the Queen’s College, Glasgow (formerly the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science) records, which are in the final stages of being catalogued as part of the Wellcome Trust Research Resources Project.  Many thanks to Eleanor for sharing the fascinating information she has found from the records.  I wonder what other areas of research the catalogue will unlock when it goes live later this year. (KM)

Over the last year, I have had the pleasure of visiting the Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) archive several times to carry out research for my PhD. As a part-time research student in the second year of my studies, my thesis is still very much ‘taking shape’; however, it was the records for the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science (GWSCDS) which inspired the subject matter of my PhD: Electricity and Domestic Science Institutes in Scotland and England c.1910-1939.

Newspaper cutting with photograph of a woman demonstrating an electric vacuum cleaner to a customer

Demonstrating an electric vacuum cleaner, Newspaper cutting February 1934.

Women played an integral role in promoting the uptake of gas appliances in Britain in the late 1800s; large audiences gathered to watch female appliance demonstrators (also known as ‘Lady Demons’!) cook using gas stoves.[1] I wondered if women had also played an active role in demonstrating electrical appliances; being a student at the University of Aberdeen, I naturally turned my attentions to electrical appliance demonstrations in Scotland first. Continue reading

Tailored to fit

As part of our Wellcome Trust Research Resource Project and on-going best practice we recently completed a process of measuring and boxing our run of Glasgow Cookery Books. The process began with the precise measuring of each individual tome, which could sometimes vary by only a few millimetres. This was done with a tried and trusted old-school wooden book measuring device, with a movable gauge on a fixed mm ruler base, to establish the width, length and height of each individual item.

The goal was to create a bespoke box for each book, to fit tightly, thereby ensuring full protection from outside elements and to prevent movement and possible damage inside the box while handling.

This list of measurements was sent to Conservation By Design Ltd who then constructed a range of their Premium Drop Spine boxes, in acid and lignin free archival folding boxboard.

The act of fitting our boxes into their new attire was a strangely pleasurable one, or it was, after the initial dread that I may have got the measurements off by a millimetre or two. Everything fitted snugly and our books are now as safe and secure and smart as they ever have been. The boxes even smell good; but that’s a whole other blog…

Simon Docherty – Archive Assistant

International collaboration on home economics building healthy communities

A Wellcome Trust Research Resources Project

The 1st International Congress on Home Economics was held in Fribourg, Switzerland, in October 1908. It was attended by 750 delegates, representing 20 countries, who had all come together to share knowledge and experience in the field of Home Economics, and look at the development and promotion of training for its teachers. It was very successful in enabling the exchange of ideas between nations and led to the International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE) being founded during the Congress.

Subsequent International Congresses were held every four, or more, years and each one had a different theme. Continue reading

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. Continue reading

A Closer Look

Despite the extended character limit now available, Twitter remains a place where nuance remains scarce, with the immediate and readily digestible at a premium. A couple of weeks ago we tweeted this from the GCU Library and Archives account. No doubt it is a striking image; arguably it distills the modern perception of the suffrage movement to its absolute fundamentals – a woman is being literally held by the personification of the law, while contemporary men look on in anger and bemusement. Purely on these terms, the photo is successful.

Front cover of ‘The Life of Emmeline Pankhurst’

There is more to it, as an addendum on the book’s back cover notes. It is, I think, worth quoting in full:

‘The illustration on the front of this jacket represents Emmeline Pankhurst, weakened by the hunger and thirst strike, arrested at the gates of Buckingham Palace when the Suffragettes attempted to interview the King on May 21st 1914. The huge policeman gave her a bear’s hug which caused excruciating pain. In her prison cell she suffered for many days.’

These words, written by her daughter Sylvia, give pause. With the benefit of hindsight, it is perhaps easy to fall prey to seeing the success of causes such as women’s suffrage as inevitable  – well, of course women were going to get the vote eventually. But think on those words and picture they describe. Someone starving and dehydrated, fifty six years old and aching. The policeman, not gentle, perhaps wanting to make an example. And the men doing nothing but looking on. Continue reading

Trials and tribulations of new ventures

A Wellcome Trust Research Resources Project

The School of Health and Life Sciences at Glasgow Caledonian University offers a number of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in nursing.  What is perhaps less well known is that its predecessor institution, the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science (GWSCDS), had ventured into nursing-related courses as early as 1925.

image of a page from the prosectus with details of the course for sister tutors and dieticians

GWSCDS 1926/27 Prospectus

The Diploma and certificate course for sister tutors and dietitians was developed in response to a shortage of nurses and dietitians in the workforce. It was open to trained nurses who would gain the qualification to enable them to teach nurses in training schools.  It was also open to Group I diploma students (diploma in cookery, laundrywork and housewifery) who could qualify as hospital, hotel or institutional dietitians.  Classes started in September Continue reading

Hi-Tech

Until the late 1980s, the current location of Glasgow Caledonian University was known as Glasgow College of Technology.[1] Upon sorting and listing recently, I came across several issues of Techbeat – the magazine for and by the students of GCT.

Cover of ‘Techbeat’ January/February 1987

The student union magazine is a venerable staple of many higher education institutions. They were (and are) a chance for the student body to put its point of view across, to cover the issues that they find relevant, and hold power to account. To read one is to be exposed to a specific mind-set of youthful idealism mixed with scabrous humour.

The four issues of Techbeat span from Autumn 1986 to January/February 1987. They offer quite the insight into student life of the time. Some things it seems remain perennial – witness the sport page’s focus on all matters football (what we would give now for the luxury of bemoaning a poor performance by Scotland in the World Cup!). There are reviews of contemporary films (Tom Cruise in Ridley Scott’s Legend anyone?) and live music. A gig at the Edinburgh Playhouse by Christy Moore was described thus: Continue reading

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

A Wellcome Trust Research Resources Project

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