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

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

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

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

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

A Wellcome Trust Research Resources Project

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

A Wellcome Trust Research Resources Project

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

Tackling food poverty: from peacetime to wartime and back again

A Wellcome Trust Research Resources Project

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