Glasgow Collection


The Glasgow Collection

The Glasgow Collection is one of the largest collections in The Mitchell Library, created on the founding of The Mitchell in 1874 to collect Glasgow-related material.

About the collection

The Collection is rich and diverse, numbering many thousands of items, all helping to tell the story of the city, whether the medium is books, newspapers, periodicals, maps, illustrations, photographs, manuscripts, directories, scrapbooks, broadsides and chapbooks, ephemera including theatre and event programmes, posters and flyers.

There are also smaller collections within the broad scope of the Glasgow Collection which have been acquired or brought together because of their connection to the city. Examples include Glasgow and West of Scotland Society for Women’s Suffrage and the Andrew Bain Memorial Collection.

Books, directories and scrapbooks

A selection of books from the Edwin Morgan collection

From the latest novels or non-fiction book with a Glasgow connection to early printed works,  street and trade directories; personally curated scrapbooks.

Some Collection highlights include history of the city and 4000 volumes of Early Glasgow Printing Collection (or EGP), printed in Glasgow to around 1801. This includes the classical publishers Foulis Press, founded in 1742, a collection of miniature books, featuring Glasgow publisher David Bryce & Son and a full collection of Glasgow Post Office Directories from 1783-1977.

Broadsides, Chapbooks and Pamphlets

The Glasgow Collection has a wonderful collection of thousands of these cheap, easily produced reading materials which could quickly communicate news, stories, poems, music, sensation and protest.

The Glasgow Collection has over 3000 broadsides in its Poet’s Box Collection, produced on Saturday morning in Glasgow from 1849-1911.

There are about 2000 chapbooks in the Glasgow Collection mostly from Glasgow, but also other parts of the British Isles.

Examples of the subjects covered by pamphlets in the Glasgow Collection include religious sermons, medical information and reports such as Old Glasgow Hospitals, or The Origins of Glasgow Jewry.

Periodicals and Newspapers

Glasgow Looking Glass

Within the 10,000 titles noted in The Mitchell’s Periodicals Collection, there are hundreds of journals, magazines and newspapers produced in or about Glasgow, many of them unique. They range from the first Glasgow newspaper, the Glasgow Courant in 1715 through the radical journals of the 18th century, the print heyday of Victorian and Edwardian periodicals, to the latest magazines.

There is more information to discover in the Newspapers section but some notable Glasgow periodicals include St Mungo, The Thistle, Quiz, Glasgow Clincher and The Bailie.

The collection is an invaluable secondary source for any researcher, revealing much about society’s cultural, political and social attitudes and interests over the years, in what was reported and how it was presented.

Sunday at the Botanic Gardens Bailie, 16 December 1891


The Glasgow Collection contains mundane and significant manuscripts of all kinds: handwritten or typed letters, typescript drafts of literary works, autographed poems, fragments of medieval histories and more.

Examples include the letters of Madeleine Smith used as evidence in the famous trial of 1857, correspondence from Charles Dickens, Allan Ramsay (poet and painter), John Ruskin, poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, Robert Burns, Edwin Morgan, Fordun’s Scotichronicon c1491, literary manuscripts by Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochhead and James Kelman.

Illustrations, Paintings and Photographs

Steam locomotive being loaded on a ship at Finnieston Quay

There are over 1300 art-works in Special Collections in the form of drawings, paintings and prints, some bound into books and some as individual sheets. More information about these collections can be found in the Art and Design section.

Notable collections include William Simpson, Robert Carrick, David Small, and prints from the Foulis Academy of Glasgow 1752-1774.

Special Collections has around 50 separate photographic collections totaling over 90,000 photographs, mostly from the late 19 century to the early 20 century. The most significant in terms of the history of photography is the Annan Collection, but another notable highlight is the little known collection of Glasgow portraits and streetscapes by William Graham.

Many of the photographic collections are about transport, especially railways and ships. Of these the largest is The North British Locomotive Company photographs (and order books) of locomotives made in the Springburn works. There are several collections of railway photographs and of Clyde steamers in the photographic albums of the Wotherspoon Collection and the Langmuir Collection.

31 Lyndedoch Street


Unity Theatre programme for The Gorbals Story

Special Collections’ Theatre Collection of programmes and playbills dates from 1812 is particularly strong in for the Victorian period when Glasgow had multiple theatres and music halls, offering live entertainment on the stage for every taste. The King’s Theatre, Theatre Royal, St Andrew’s Halls, and Metropole Theatre are all represented along with many others.

King's Theatre programme for Sleeping Beauty, 1984


Postcard, General view of Glasgow Green, c1904

Ephemera is by its nature expected to be short-lived but collections like the printed posters, flyers, tickets, booklets and objects about Glasgow, especially local events reveal insights into what Glasgow communities wanted to participate in, or create for themselves and share with others. Large scale public events feature strongly, such as the Glasgow Garden Festival 1988, or Commonwealth Games Glasgow 2014, but also feature examples of local community events, shopping and adverts.

Finding aids

Every book in the Glasgow Collection, whether historic or brand new, can be searched in the online catalogue by author, title or subject.

There are many items and smaller collections in the Glasgow Collection, such as the Manuscripts Catalogue and the Literary Manuscripts Catalogue which are not yet available to search in the online catalogue. Special Collections staff on level 5 of The Mitchell are happy to offer help in using in-house printed finding aids and lists, and to source materials from store to support any enquiries.

Further reading

The Glasgow Encyclopedia by Joe Fisher

Family History website, Street Directories

National Library of Scotland Post Office Directories 1783-1911

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