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Victorian Resources

An Introduction to Nineteenth Century Resources Available in Special Collections

Victorian Home | Art and Design | Literature | Politics and Government | Science and Natural History

Social History


The Victorian era was a period of great social change: the face of Britain altered completely in the space of a century.  From the trend of migration which took place in the early part of the century, through to the industrial revolution and the vast improvements in health care and transportation, the social changes of the time are of great importance to anyone studying or researching the period.  Many stereotyped views of the era represent it as being dark and socially oppressive, whilst in actual fact it does not take too much investigation to uncover a vibrant and pulsating core, highlighted by the amount of material available relating to sport and recreation for all sections of society.

Depending on what you're looking for, almost all the collections contain books of social historical value; however, there are a few which are particularly strong in this field, including the Murray Collection, the Euing Collection, the Old Library Collection and the Dougan Collection (containing thousands of nineteenth century photographs).

Below is a selection of items chosen as examples of the resources that are available from our collections in this subject area, concentrating on the following themes:

Please click on any of the pictures in the following page to see an enlarged version of the image, and click 'back' to return to the main page.


Illustrations of trades, with the tools used in them: Tailor (Page 451)

An Illustrated Vocabulary Prepared for the use of the Deaf and Dumb

Sp Coll S.M. 1358

Published in 1857, this text was intended to aid the deaf and dumb with their reading, writing and speech skills. The book contains a lengthy word list, where each word is split into syllables in order to highlight pronunciation.  However, only about one in ten words are actually illustrated, and there are no written definitions at all, meaning that many words would still have been a mystery to the average child.  Towards the end of the work there is a section entitled 'Illustrations of Trades', where we are given lists of all the tools and materials relevant to a particular job, such as a baker, a farrier or a potter.  Finally the book also provides pictorial aids for general geographical terms, the parts of an engine, the areas of the human body and the planets of the solar system.  This item is of particular interest as it appeared at a time when education was spreading to the masses, including those who were thought to have disabilities or impairments, and therefore highlights the Victorian idiom of all inclusive education.

Table highlighting the difference in criminal activities from the national average in the least instructed districts and the most instructed districts (Page 28)

The Prison and the School: A Letter to Lord John Russell, M.P. by John Dufton, M.A.

Sp Coll T.C.L. 4026 (Item 2 of 13)

Written in 1848, this discusses the notion that education is intrinsically linked to crime.  Dufton, a Christian minister, argues that those who are born and bred in poor and less well educated areas of the country are far more likely to commit crimes than those who are brought up with a good education.  Unlike many discursive letters of the period, Dufton uses actual facts and figures collected for government reports to argue his case.  For example, he states that the over 90% of crime in the 1840's was committed by those who could neither read nor write, or who could only read or write imperfectly, whilst just 0.34% of crime was committed by those of superior instruction (i.e. those with advanced educations such as university degrees).  Dufton also goes to great lengths to explain the benefits of providing every child with a suitable education; an 85% reduction in crime, the end of pauperism, and a total saving to the country of nearly 1.3 million.

'The Dog' lesson plan (Page 217)

[The Glasgow Infant School Magazine]

Sp Coll Mu Add 211

This work, published around 1835, contains a vast number of lessons used within infant schools.  Each lesson provides a picture of its topic followed by a series of questions that an instructor should ask his pupils.  It also suggests the kind of responses one should expect from the children, to make sure that they both recognise and understand the topic in question.  Finally, each lesson is concluded with a piece of prose or poetry relating to the topic, to highlight how it can be used imaginatively and within a sentence.  According to the preface, 'the various lessons... are intended to show not so much how the children are taught, as to exhibit those points of varied and useful information which the Master of a Training School aims at imparting to his pupils.'

Title page, with ms annotation

The Boy's Reading Book in Prose and Poetry for Schools

Sp Coll 1228

This compilation of prose and poetry for children was published in 1839.  Intended as a school textbook, the book was one half of a pair with the Girl's Reading Book in Prose and Poetry for Schools (Sp Coll 1229).  The items included were specially selected for the volume and had a higher aim than simply to aid pupils literacy skills; rather, according to the preface, they are 'lessons of republican simplicity, of the value of time, of the rewards of virtue, and of the duties of this life.'  This copy has been annotated on the title page by the author, with an inscription dated 17th March 1840, stating: Mr. James Hetson, from his friend Mrs Sigourney.

Double page spread showing class marks, and in the far left column, pencil notes added at a later date detailing the current status of each pupil (Pages 6-7)

Class Book Showing the Drawings and Markings at the Eight Examinations of Dr. Lorrain's Fifth Class in the Grammar School of Glasgow

MS Gen 77

This is a fascinating manuscript item dated 10th October 1831, containing class marks for a drawing class at the Grammar School of Glasgow. It furthermore contains a wealth of other material: there are written details about each of the exams undertaken (including the dates upon which they were sat and the general content of the questions); there are pamphlets entitled 'The Progress of the Classes in the Glasgow Grammar School', relating to different years in the 1830s and including notes on the most outstanding achievements of the year; there are many newspaper articles relating to the school and it's graduated pupils; and there is even a sheet of pink blotting paper wedged between the pages towards the back of the notebook.  Finally, and perhaps most interestingly, there are a series of pencil marks (added at a later date, probably towards the end of the nineteenth century) explaining what happened to many of the pupils in Dr. Lorrain's classes after they had graduated.  Unsurprisingly for the time, a large number of them died at rather young ages; however, several went on to become merchants, and some even emigrated as far afield as New Orleans, Canada and Australia.

Plate depicting a girl wearing the uniform of the Highland Society School in Glasgow (Plate 15)

Original Water Colour Drawings of Old Dresses and Uniforms connected with the City of Glasgow

MS Murray 591

This collection of water colours, compiled in Edinburgh in 1889, consists of fifteen drawings of Victorian uniforms from different walks of life, and four drawings containing images of seals from companies connected with Glasgow. The plates which are of particular interest to the theme of education are numbers 12-15, which depict images of children in their school dress.  Two of the plates (numbers 13 and 15) display the boys' and girls' uniform from the Highland Society's School, which was founded in the Eighteenth Century with the purpose of educating and clothing the children of poor families who had moved to Glasgow from the Highlands.  Plate 12, on the other hand, displays a boy wearing the uniform of Wilson's school, an establishment founded by George Wilson, a Glasgow merchant, who left 3000 in his will for the purpose of educating children in his home city.  Finally, plate 14 depicts a girl wearing the uniform of Miller's school, which was founded in a very similar way to Wilson's school.  Upon his death in 1790, Andrew Miller, another Glasgow merchant, left his entire estate to the education of young girls, from which the school bearing his name grew out of.  The girls were educated for 5 years and were taught, amongst other things, reading, writing, arithmetic, knitting and needlework.


Plate highlighting the problems with the current shape of canal boats, in this case a 'Luggage and Passage boat in use on the Union Canal (Plate 6)

Canal Navigation on the Resistance of Water to the Passage of Boats Upon Canals

Sp Coll Hunterian Ei.1.11 (g)

This work, published in 1833, was the result of extensive experiments and research by John MacNeill, a civil engineer of the period.  He puts forward the notion that the current style of canal boat used is ineffective due to its shape; it causes more water resistance than other types of boat would, making it slower, and therefore costlier, to transport goods by canal.  MacNeill's findings were at odds with what most engineers believed at the time, and he recognised that this could be a serious problem to the credibility of his findings, as he states in his introduction: 'The results which I have arrived at by experiments are so much at variance with generally received theoretical deductions, that it is with much diffidence I submit these pages to the consideration of the public.'  However, he also goes on to state that whilst people may not take his findings seriously, he hopes that they will at least pave the way 'to a more varied and extensive series of experiments to ascertain the best form of boats.'

Drawing depicting the Plan and Elevation of an early Victorian steam Vessel (Title Page Plate)

An essay on the Nature and Application of Steam

Sp Coll No.3.35

This essay was published in 1834 and provides an in depth look at all matters relating to steam and its uses.  The author, M. A. Alderson, an English civil engineer, draws in even the simplest of readers by explaining the nature of steam from a child's point of view, that is 'the offspring arising from the union of the two elements Fire and Water.'  However, as the essay progresses, Alderson becomes increasing scientific in his explanations, discussing such topics as the use of steam as a motive power, the application of steam to various purposes, chemical experiments relating to steam, and modern inventions to increase the efficiency and safety of steam powered devices.  The item also contains a number of plates depicting the current uses of steam, from using it to power an engine, to using it with a drying house.  This item was voted as the Prize Essay at the London Mechanics' Institution the year before its publication.

Drawing showing the Finnieston vehicular ferry, which began taking passengers across the Clyde  in 1890 (Page 9)

Plan of the Clyde at Glasgow, 1790, 1854, 1894; Plans of Past and Present Ferry Boats and Proposed Bridge

Sp Coll Mu25-y.45

This is a history of transport and communication over the river Clyde throughout the nineteenth century. It was published in 1896. It was intended for private circulation only, as the author hoped that his remarks might 'bring the matter of cross river communication more prominently before the Town Council and Clyde Trust.'  Included are a series of drawings, highlighting the progress made on the Clyde by providing overhead sketches of the river in 1790, 1854 and 1894.  It also contains other sketches, relating to such topics as newly proposed bridges to the use of cross-river ferry boats and vehicular ferries.

Inset map showing the principal railways in Scotland

[Cheffins's Map of the English and Scotch Railways]

Sp Coll Mu38-h.11

Thought to have been published in 1847, this work is exactly what the title claims it to be - a large fold-out map of the English railway system, with an inset highlighting the main railway networks in Scotland.  The map shows four different types of railway line: lines which are completed and open for traffic (shown by a thick black line), lines in the course of construction (shown by a dotted black line), lines for which acts were obtained in 1846, but on which no work had yet started (shown by a red line), and broad gauge lines, which are lines of a greater distance between the rails than the standard distance of 1435mm (shown by a double black line).  The small inset map of Scotland shows only the railway network of the central belt and western border regions, but is notable for the absence of one of today's most notable land marks, the Forth Rail Bridge, which wasn't opened for use until 1890.

'Forth & Clyde Canal Swift Passenger Boats' timetable and price list (Page 23)

Neilson & Murray's Condensed Time Tables and Advertiser for August 1846

Sp Coll Mu1-h.29 (Item 3 of 3)

This work, produced on a monthly basis by the Glasgow Parcel Delivery Company, provides a fascinating insight into travel in the mid-nineteenth century.  In the form of a small pocket notebook, this volume contains timetables for all railway, coach, omnibus, canal and steamboat routes in the vicinity of Glasgow.  For example, if you wanted to travel by train we can see that there were eleven trains a day between Edinburgh and Glasgow, with the earliest leaving at 7am and the latest at 10pm, each taking around two and a quarter hours to reach its destination.  We can also see that to travel the full distance in a first class carriage would have cost 8 shillings, whilst the same journey in a fourth class carriage would have been 2 shilling and 6 pence.  If you didn't want to travel by train you could use the 'Swift Passenger Boats', which travelled along the Forth & Clyde canal at an estimated time between Glasgow and Edinburgh of seven and a half hours.  However, considering the increased travelling time, taking the canal was not particularly good value for money; you could take a cabin for 3 shillings or have a steerage seat for 2 shillings.  A large number of advertisements are included, most of which relate to the travel industry in one way or another.

Table showing the route from Berwick Upon Tweed to Edinburgh (Page 221-222)

Paterson's Roads, in a Pocket Size

Sp Coll RB 605

This practical handbook, published in 1804, enabled road travellers to locate easily where they were whilst on a journey, and how far they were at any given time from their destination.  Unlike modern guides, which use maps to determine one's destination or route, this work instead uses a series of tables containing place names and their distances, in miles, from London.  In order to find a route, the first thing you had to do was look up your destination in the index, no matter where the starting point of your journey was.  This would then give you a page reference within the long list of tables, which relates to your destination.  So, for example, if you wanted to travel to Edinburgh you would have to turn to page 222 and then, within the table, look up which direction you were coming from.  If, for example you were coming from the border with England, you could then further define your search by which route you wanted to take, i.e. if you wanted to travel north from Berwick, Kelso or Coldstream.  Once you had decided this, each route could be found in a different table, so if you decided you wanted to travel from Coldstream to Edinburgh, you would be given a route to take, in this case passing through Greenlaw, Lauder, Carfra Mill, Pathhead and Dalkeith.  At each stage of the journey you were given directions to get to the next village or town, as well as a distance measurement, so that you would always know how far you had to go to reach your final destination.  Also included is information on the routes of mail coaches, and the days of markets in particular places.


Title Page

Report for the Directors of the Town's Hospital of Glasgow on the Management of the City Poor, the Suppression of Mendicity, and the Principles of the Plan for the New Hospital

Sp Coll Bh11-c.8

This pamphlet from 1818 gives a wonderful insight into the ways in which the poor were catered for in the early Nineteenth Century.  Written nearly a century before the 'founding' of the welfare state, this study was commissioned 'to consider and report on the most approved plan, size regulations and constitution for the new Town's Hospital.'  It was also agreed that the report should contain an evaluation of the comparative methods of dealing with the sick in their own homes (as opposed to in a hospital), the expediency of obliging those who were able bodied to work for their own subsistence, and the most efficient methods of suppressing mendicity and preventing the increase of pauperism.  Finally, the item also contains several comparative studies on the handing of health amongst the poor between Glasgow and other cities, including Edinburgh, Birmingham and Dublin.

Table showing the mean time of digestion in the stomach for different types of food (Page 87)

A Handy Book on Food and Diet, In Health and Disease

Sp Coll BG59-i.11

Published in 1871, this is a handbook containing the most up to date information on nutrition, stressing the importance of what we eat in relation to general health and wellbeing.  The work was written by Charles A. Cameron who, according to the title page, had a number of titles including Licentiate of the King and Queen's College of Physicians in Ireland, Professor of Hygiene in the Royal College of Surgeons, Professor of Chemistry in Steven's Hospital Medical College, and Analyst to the City of Dublin. Included is a wealth of information, with chapters on the nature and function of food, the constituents of food (such as starch, sugars, fats etc.), edible stimulants and condiments, dieting, and digestion; there is even a section about cookery, where the author divulges the most economical way to use meat, and provides the relevant nutritional merits of boiling, roasting, baking, and frying.  However, perhaps the most interesting chapter is the one entitled 'Nutritive Value of Foods', in which we are told enlightening facts which today would be classed as common sense: for example, the difference between the commercial value and the nutritive value of an item (i.e. just because a food is expensive does not necessarily mean that it is better for your health).

Opening illustration for the chapter entitled 'Baths and Bathing' (Page 77)

The Toilet

Sp Coll Ferguson Al-e.36

The subject matter of this book does not relate to the object of the title but rather to the room of the same name. Published in 1897, it contains hints and advice for the Victorian lady upon such matters as health, beauty and dress, as well as offering 'innumerable recipes for the toilet table.'  It provides tips on such matters as cleanliness, the use of cosmetics, keeping one's teeth clean and the problems of thinness and obesity.  One chapter, relating to acne, provides a step by step guide to eradicating spots: steam your head every other night until the pores of the skin open, cleanse the area with a good quality face soap, rub the affected area with a moderately rough towel and apply a good coating of cold cream; only at this stage should the pimples be squeezed, and this should only be done with a washed silk handkerchief (to avoid re-infection, whilst being soft on the skin); finally, a good quality Eau de Cologne should be applied which, according to the text, will 'at first cause redness and smarting, but is invaluable in removing these pests.' The work is sandwiched between several pages of advertisements for bathroom related products, which in themselves are valuable sources for exploring the social history of the period.

Frontispiece Illustration

The Medical Adviser and Complete Guide to Health and Long Life

Sp Coll BG59-e.23-24

This 1825 manual provides a complete guide to all health related matters, containing plain and easy directions for the treatment of many day to day illnesses and ailments, from boils and abscesses to headaches and ringworm.  It also gives general advice on preventing disease: such as, having a healthy diet, keeping warm in the winter months, and maintaining a general state of cleanliness. One of the most interesting parts of the work are the home made remedies it suggests, most of which can be made from the 'Economical Family Medicine Chest' (page 52).  Apparently this should contain the following items, from which almost all common ailments can be cured or alleviated: Epsom salts, lard, rhubarb, jalap (known as a highly effective cathartic drug), calomel (now known as mercury chloride, a substance used in the Nineteenth Century for disinfection), castor oil, senna leaves, sticking plaster, sulphate of zinc (used to fight bacterial and viral infections) and ipecacuanha (used to make syrup of ipecac, a substance which has a powerful emetic reaction on the body).  According to the book, these items "can all be purchased for less than a pound; and no house ought to be without them, particularly in the country."

Plate providing a representation of the author's new form of forceps, for removing loose molar teeth (Page 57)

Preservation of the Teeth Indispensable to Comfort and Appearance, Health and Longevity

Sp Coll RB 4860

Published in 1842, this work was written by John Gray, a Consulting Dentist, a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in London, and an Honorary Doctor in Medicine. It was aimed at fellow dentists as opposed to members of the general public, yet it is still a valuable resource as it provides a fascinating insight into the 'modern' practices of dentistry in an age when effective anaesthesia was still a rarity.  Amongst other topics, Gray puts forward a study highlighting the current defective state of teeth compared with that of the Eighteenth Century (most likely caused by the increased availability of sugar), and also spends some time attacking the practice of filing teeth, whereby a file would be forced between the teeth of a child in order to grind away some of the enamel and relieve the lateral pressure in the mouth.  Gray also includes a chapter on the 'philosophical principles upon which artificial teeth are formed' and, in the appendix, discusses new methods used for extracting teeth whilst highlighting his own design for the improvement of mechanical dental devices.

Title Page with Illustration

Mother's Medical Adviser; On the Disease and Management of Children

Sp Coll RB 4810

This 1839 work is akin to The Medical Adviser discussed above, with the difference being that this text is particularly aimed at mothers and their children. Included are notes and potential remedies on a variety of illnesses and ailments, in particular those which are found to be most common amongst children, such as teething, shingles and chicken pox.  It is noteworthy that the remedies for these problems are very similar to those put forward in the previously mentioned item, highlighting the potential lack of general medical progress during the period.  It is also interesting to note the 'mothering' tone of this item; rather than allay fears and parental worries over a child's health, it often serves to increase anxiety by causing worry where little is needed.  For example, under a section entitled 'Collars, Scarfs, Stocks etc.', we are told that these everyday items can be very dangerous as 'they render swallowing difficult, by pressing on the gullet and windpipe... also by pressing upon the jugular veins, and so retarding the return of blood from the head to the heart, induce giddiness, stupor and apoplexy.'

Section of the colour-coded map, showing Glasgow City Centre

Facts and Observations on the Sanitory State of Glasgow

Sp Coll Mu26-a.29

This study, published in 1844, relates to the fever epidemic which struck the city in the previous year.  Written by Robert Perry (President of the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, and Senior Physician to the Glasgow Royal Infirmary), it uses local medical reports, statistical tables and a colour-coded map of the city to highlight the link between poor sanitation and poor health.

For more information on this item, and further images, please visit our Book of the Month Archive.

"Perspective View of the Bed & Frame" (Plate 4)

Directions for Constructing a Cheap Bed and Elastic Frame for the Conveyance of Sick or Wounded Persons

Sp Coll RQ 1942/41

This pamphlet was written by Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Crichton of the Second Regiment Royal Edinburgh Volunteers. It describes an invention for the easy transportation of sick and wounded soldiers.  Published in 1807, the design was far ahead of its time and it was thought to be a device which could save many lives. However, it was not an idea that was immediately adopted by the army, so the author decided to publish his idea in an attempt to use the publicity to convince army chiefs to adopt the method more rapidly. It contains several plates showing the bed from a variety of angles, as well as an eight page written explanation of how to assemble the frame and attach the bed. This item is in excellent condition and has rarely, if ever, been used - highlighted by the fact that several of the pages in this copy remain uncut from the time they were produced.


Title Page

Observations on the present State of the Highlands of Scotland, with a View of the Causes and Probable Consequences of Emigration

Sp Coll Mu16-d.16

Published in 1805, this work was written by the Earl of Selkirk who had developed a strong sense of affection for the Highlands and its people after he toured there in 1792.  He takes a detailed look at both the history of the Highlands (and in particular the Highland clearances of the previous century) and the underlying reasons behind the high volume of emigration from the area. The Earl also examines the consequences of this pattern of emigration, both on the remaining Highland communities and on the rest of the nation as a whole.  However, the conclusions drawn from these investigations are ones which would perhaps be disputed by modern historians, namely 'that emigration was an unavoidable result of the general state of the country, arising from causes above all control, and in itself of essential consequence to the tranquillity and permanent welfare of the kingdom.'  It is important to remember that this item was written before the great Irish and Highland potato famines of the mid-nineteenth century, which saw further emigration from the north of Scotland, but a large rise in immigration to the south of the country.

Title Page

The Grievances of the Working Classes; and the Pauperism and Crime of Glasgow; with their Causes, Extent, and Remedies

Sp Coll Bh11-f.20

This 1846 work discusses emigration as just one of its facets, treating it as a result of social and economic disquiet amongst the working classes.  For this reason the author looks at more than just the results of the migration away from Scotland, by also examining the causes of the problem and even attempting to find some possible solutions.  Some of the problems cited in the work are: the poor quality of lodging houses, Sabbath desecration, the 'unhealthfulness' of the dwellings of the humbler classes, the large number of hangers-on in society, such as beggars and thieves, and the lack of facilities for those in need of care, such as orphans, widows and lunatics.  The author cites many of these problems as being caused by society drifting away from its traditional Christian values, and suggests that the church, along with the state and local magistrates, can play a leading role in ending pauperism.

Sketches of three types of house built by the early settlers (Plate opposite Page 68)

A Narrative of the Rise & Progress of Emigration, from the Counties of Lanark & Renfrew, to the New Settlements in Upper Canada

Sp Coll Mu17-e.10

This 1821 manual is an amalgamation of information and short narratives previously published separately, but brought together in this volume 'in order that they may be preserved as instructions for future emigrants.'  The work contains the story of nearly three thousand Scots' emigration to Canada during the years 1820-1821, after they had spent several years petitioning for permission to move across the Atlantic. The item contains a map of the township settlements made in Canada, a long description of the journey and of the supplies used by the settlers, drawings of the houses they built when they first arrived, and a series of reprinted letters from the emigrants to their friends and family back in Scotland, describing first hand their experiences of travel and social upheaval.

Title Page

Emigration to Canada: Narrative of a Voyage to Quebec, and Journey from thence to New Lanark in Upper Canada

Sp Coll Mu45-i.25

This book, published in 1822, details the journey and the hardships faced by John McDonald, who left Glasgow on the 19th May 1821 to start a new life in Canada.  The work is based upon the journal he kept of his voyage across the Atlantic, up the St. Laurence river and into the interior of the country; it also contains a narrative of his new country, from the climate and the nature of the soil, to the state of its native inhabitants. It is a wonderful first hand insight into the personal turmoil of emigration in the early Nineteenth Century, and also provides a fine contrast to other such narratives.  For example, the previous item portrays emigration as an exhausting but essentially worthwhile scheme, whilst McDonald states that his journal provides a faithful account of the 'hardships through which our unhappy and deluded countrymen are doomed to pass, the privations they must undergo, the sufferings they must endure, with the deplorable consequences resulting from these, before they can be settled in their cold, comfortless and solitary log-houses.'

Frontispiece entitled "Masquerade of Games"

Games and Sports

Sp Coll Bf69-l.24

Published in 1837, this book was written by Donald Walker as an appendix to his previously published works, Manly Exercises and Exercises for Ladies. It contains 'various in-door games and sports, the out-of-door games and sports, those of the seasons;' and omits 'only games of hazard, and such games and sports as are either frivolous or dangerous.' Unlike his previous works (which offered ideas for exercise and fitness), Walker's intention here was to exercise both the muscles and the brain with games as varied as chess, billiards, cricket and 'climbing the pole', whereby a prize is placed at the top of a smooth pole of considerable height and contestants have to climb the pole to win the prize.  Each game or sport is afforded its own chapter, where the rules are explained and the author puts forward ideas to alter the game, either to make it more fun or so that women can be included.  Each sport is also adorned with an engraved plate depicting the action of the game.


Frontispiece entitled "The Pike"

The Book of the Pike: A Practical Treatise on the Various Methods of Jack Fishing

Sp Coll BG54-i.10

Written by H. Cholmondeley-Pennell, a well renowned author of fishing books and editor of the Fisherman's Magazine and Review, this work was published in 1865. It contains all the necessary information required for successful 'Jack' fishing - 'Jack' being a term used to describe a number of different fish, but in this case any freshwater pike weighing under 3lb. The item is split into two sections.  The first concerns the history of the pike, from its variations around the world, its weight and habits, to remarkable tales of pike attacking foxes and even pike being cannibalistic.  The second section deals with the main thrust of the book - pike fishing.  Whilst much of this part of the work deals with different types of bait, it is also augmented by a chapter on trout fishing, for those who have not quite progressed to the level of the pike.  The book is also appended by a section on how to cook pike (which includes recipes from around the world), and a section on where to find the best pike fishing in the British Isles.

"A Corn(er) Kick" (Plate 7)

Free Kicks at Football

Sp Coll Mu2-i.38

This is a rare piece of Victorian football memorabilia, which highlights the rise in popularity of the game during that period. Published in 1882, it contains a variety of poetry and prose, together with a series of illustrations reminiscent of the political cartoons of the time.

For more information on this item, and further images, please visit our Book of the Month Archive.


'Public Disinfectors' (Dougan 33)

The Special Collections department holds a vast number of nineteenth century photographs, ranging from large albums portraying life on the Victorian streets, to individual images of people or places.

Our main photographic collections are:

  • Dougan Collection. This consists of a variety of photographs, with nearly 500 paper negatives, 324 glass negatives, 459 later prints, and 411 original calotypes, an early photographic process pioneered by William Fox Talbot, using paper coated with silver iodide (see our Book of the Month Archive for more information).  The collection also includes 107 bound volumes, containing a variety of images from beautiful rolling landscapes to the poorest areas of the cities, and their inhabitants.  This collection contains the majority of the  earliest photographs held in Special Collections, with most dating between 1843 and 1860.
  • Probably the most renowned photographs held in the Dougan Collection are those produced by the partnership of Hill and Adamson (David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson) taken between 1843 and 1847.  Although their partnership lasted for only four years, the two were prolific during this time and their photographs (mainly comprising images of everyday life and important figures and buildings of the period), have left a superb documented history of Victorian Britain.  With financial help from a British Academy research grant, the collection has been fully digitised and can be viewed online through the Hill & Adamson catalogue.
  • Ashton Collection. This collection contains over 3000 glass lantern slides, most of which were taken by John Cooper Ashton, a gifted amateur photographer. The work of other photographers such as James Valentine and Frederick Henry Evans is also represented. The subject of Ashton's photographs vary from ecclesiastical buildings in Britain, Italy and France, to views of everyday life in other European countries such as Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.  Although few of the photographs are dated, it is thought that most were taken between 1890 and 1925.
  • Bruce Collection: Consisting of over 1400 stereoscopic glass photographic negatives, this collection charts a series of polar explorations made by William Speirs Bruce (1867-1921) between 1899 and 1914.  Many locations are featured in the images including Norway, the Falkland Islands, Ascension Island and South Africa.
  • James Paterson Museum Archive: This collection holds a variety of items relating to the life of James Paterson (1854-1932), the famous Scottish watercolourist.  The photographs, which constitute only a small part of the overall collection, mainly relate to Paterson and his family, charting an illustrious career and a modest domestic life.

Please note!

Owing to the fragile and sensitive nature of early photographs, this material is restricted and can only be accessed by prior arrangement. At least 24 hours notice is required to allow for the safe removal of items from our dedicated cold photographic store. In some instances, access to original photographic material cannot be permitted at all for conservation reasons.

'Close No. 37, High Street' (Plate 5, Dougan 64)


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