Archives Relating to Empire in Glasgow

Established by wealthy tobacco merchant Stephe...

Established by wealthy tobacco merchant Stephen Mitchell, the Mitchell Library is now one of the largest public reference libraries in Europe. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first speaker for the Glasgow Colonial and Postcolonial Group in January 2013 was Alastair Tough who talked about colonial archives in Africa. We had an interesting discussion about the management of colonial archives and oral history, but what material is on offer in Glasgow that sheds light on its relationship with empire and status as ‘second city of empire’?

Apart from the physical remnants of its relationship with empire, in terms of street names and buildings in the Merchant City built through money from empire and slavery (another blog post on this and Stephen Mullen’s work forthcoming), the main depositories are the various university archives in Glasgow and the Mitchell Library.

The Mitchell Library holds local newspapers which are a rich resource. They also hold the Glasgow City Archives which have the records of organisations such as the Clyde Port Authority and Port Medical Authority. They also have church archives and any number of local associations that probably had connections with the wider empire.

Glasgow University Archives also hold shipbuilding archives and business archives relating to empire such as Fraser’s and the James Finlay archives. And Glasgow Caledonian University Archives have various trade union materials as well. Not to mention student records which show how citizens of empire travelled to Glasgow. Meanwhile, Glasgow Museums have material on their imperial exhibitions.

So, there’s a lot out there. Has anyone used any of these archives or know of any others in Glasgow? What have your experiences been like? What is still missing?


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