Monday, 19 December 2011

Happy Holidays!

We'd like to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and safe and prosperous New Year.

Best wishes from everyone in ARMMS and CAIS at the University of Dundee.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Stuck for a Christmas present?

An early view of G.L. Wilson
If you can't think what to buy a loved one for Christmas you might like to take inspiration from the archives of G.L. Wilson department store. The store, popularly know as 'The Corner' because of its position on the corner of Murraygate and Commercial Street, Dundee, was founded in 1894 and rapidly became a Dundee institution. 

The 1959 Santa Club
The store was well know for its imaginative Christmas displays and shows, and its annual procession with Santa Claus drew large crowds onto the streets of Dundee. 

As well as business records the archives contain many catalogues advertising the store's products and sales.

Crowds view  the Santa procession 1950s

 The Christmas catalogues contain a wealth of ideas for exciting gifts for Christmas. Click on the link below for 'Smart Christmas Aprons' for the special lady in your life; 'Useful Gifts for Men and Boys' ('Every Many needs Ties'); 'Intimate Gifts for Girl Friends'; some familiar 'Xmas Books'; and, for a peaceful Christmas, 'Let Your Children Fight their Country's Battles over again'. 
Click here for your Christmas gift guide.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Student protests at Dundee

This 1968 photograph shows students staging a twenty-four hour work-in at the University of Dundee. Second from the left is George Robertson, now Baron Robertson of Port Ellen, who organised the protest.

Student work-in, 1968

Robertson graduated from Dundee in 1968 with a degree in Economics from the newly formed University. At that time students could choose either to take a St Andrews or a Dundee degree and Robertson was one of the minority of students to opt for the latter. Robertson was an active member of the University and a founding contributor of, and regular columnist for, the student newspaper Annasach. The newspaper, which was more political than its modern day equivalent, provided Robertson with some valuable journalistic and campaigning experience. He continued to take an active role in student protests, for example invading the pitch when a rugby team from the Orange Free State played at St Andrews. Robertson went on to become a Labour MP, Secretary of State for Defence and Secretary General of NATO. The issues of Annasach to which he contributed can be consulted in the University Archives (RU 357/1).

Friday, 18 November 2011

Celebrating CAIS Graduates

Congratulations to all 21 students from the Centre for Archive and Information Studies students who graduated on Wednesday 16th November. The University of Dundee held a special Winter Graduation ceremony for the first time this year and several of our students took the opportunity to attend.

CAIS graduates outside Caird Hall, Dundee
Very well done also to Durham Burt, the third CAIS Trainee, who graduated with an MLitt Archives and Records Management with distinction.

Durham Burt, CAIS Trainee
Students qualified with the following degrees:
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Archival Studies
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Recordkeeping
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Family and Local History
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Archives and Records Management
  • Masters of Letters / Science in Archives and Records Management
  • Master of Science in Record Management and Digital Preservation
Caird Hall, Dundee
CAIS is still accepting applications for the 21 online courses it is offering in January covering family history, archives and / or records management, information compliance and digital preservation. Courses last from six to 15 weeks, are tutored by experts and are delivered fully online. Applications for Masters degrees in these subjects are welcomed and we accept applicants from the UK and overseas. For more information see or contact

Friday, 11 November 2011

World War Exhibition

To commemorate Remembrance Day Archive Services have mounted a small exhibition of material relating to the World Wars. The focus is partly on men and women who served in the British and French Red Cross, some of the 'unsung heroes' of the wars.

James Blackburn Wilson (1888-1961) served in France with the ambulance service, he survived the war and returned to Alva to the family woollen manufacturing business. The exhibition includes photographs of Wilson tending wounded soldiers and letters to his parents.

Other material in the exhibition includes papers from the collection of Margot Cox (1905-1983) who served with the British Red Cross in Italy during the Second World War and was awarded a medal for distinguished war service.  There is also a fascinating sketch and poetry book created by soldier patients at Monifieth Red Cross Hospital during the First World War.

Archive Services holds many collections relating to hospitals in the area. The exhibition features material from the Bridge of Earn Hospital which was built by the Emergency Medical Service to treat war casualties. The papers include Department of Health information leaflets advising on what to do in the case of enemy attack and treating war wounds with penicillin.

Also on display are items from the Joseph Lee archive. Lee (1876-1949) was a journalist from Dundee who served in the First World War. He was an early war poet, who wrote about his experiences in the trenches and was published in the UK and overseas. He was captured and became a prisoner of war and the exhibition shows pages from the diaries that he wrote while in captivity.

The exhibition is on display outside the Archive Services’ searchroom and for more information please contact

Jennifer Johnstone, Archive Services

Friday, 4 November 2011

University Culture Day


On Wednesday 9th November the University of Dundee's Culture & Arts Forum presents the seventh annual Culture Day, featuring a variety of fascinating talks and presentations, this year on the theme of Place, Space & Time.

Our speakers this year cover art, literature, history, geography, biology, astronomy, music and much more - all exploring the same overall theme. The event takes place in Baxter Conference Room 1.36 on the first floor of the Tower Building, starting at 1.30pm. The full programme is below, admission is free and everyone is welcome to attend. There's no need to book - just come along to some or all of the day.

1.30 pm:
Matthew Jarron (Museum Services)

1.40 pm:
Susan Mains (Geography)
Moving Image, Moving Place: Islands, Identities and Space-Time Emotions
This presentation will explore the ways in which media images of islands - particularly in the Caribbean - offer an important entryway into new understandings of how we represent emotions, space, and time

Alasdair Hood (Botanic Garden)
“A Rich Harvest of Most Beautiful Plants": A World Tour in the Botanic Garden
The University’s Botanic Garden turned 40 this year. It was ahead of its time in being laid out on geographical lines. Come on a tour of the world's plants and explore our own British flora. 

Brian Kelly (Continuing Education / Dundee Heritage Trust)
A Journey in Space and Time
Find out our real place in the cosmos as we voyage from Dundee to the most distant objects in the known Universe

Philip Braham (Fine Art)
Suicide Notes: From private pilgrimage to public outrage
The artist will discuss his contentious photographic series 'Suicide Notes' that met with moral condemnation in the press, but won the Royal Scottish Academy Morton Award in 2009.

2.40 pm Refreshments

3.05 pm:
Graeme Stevenson (Music)
Space in Music
A look at music that was composed with the position of the audience or the performers as a key feature of the work

Keith Williams (English)
“I have always been given to paradoxes about space and time”
A talk exploring the place of new media in the fiction of HG Wells

Charles McKean (History)
Space and Time - a Revolutionary Theory
Revolutions require the right time, the right circumstances and above all the right place. Do they occur in the countryside? Rarely. For the last 500 years, authorities have been aware of this and designed against it. Yet in 1989 and again today, squares and plazas were crucial to dramatic political change.

Keith Skene (Continuing Education / Biosphere Research Institute)
Of Progress and the Golden Age: finding a place called home
The conservation movement and the Enlightenment had very different visions of where we belonged. We will examine these two schools of thought, exploring the repercussions for us today.

4.05 pm: Refreshments

Kenneth Baxter (Archive Services)
Time Travel without a TARDIS: Using archives to discover changing places and spaces in Dundee through time
This talk will show how material held by the University's Archive Services can be used to illustrate and understand how Dundee has changed in the past two centuries – its spaces and the people who inhabited them

Neil Paterson (Botanic Garden)
Deep Time and Broad Spaces: Space and Time in Darwin's Theory of Evolution
The strongest evidence for the fact of evolution comes from the distribution of species in space across the globe and Natural Selection demands vast expanses of time to do its work.

Brian Hoyle (English)
Cinema, Time and Space
Through an examination of works by a range of directors this talk will examine cinema's unique ability to manipulate time and space. By combining cinematic techniques with the viewer's imagination, filmmakers are able to extend, compress and elide time; eradicate the distance between locations; and present vastly different spaces to the viewer

Phil Vaughan (Graphic Design)
Comics: 3D space to 2D time
Exploring the technique of using 3D software to digitally create 2D comic art...

5.30: End

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Plans for a Botanic Garden in Dundee

2011 is the year in which the University celebrates the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Botanic Gardens and Archive Services has a number of collections which relate to the establishment and management of the gardens. The archives show that idea of creating a botanic teaching garden dates back as far as the early twentieth century. (Sir) Patrick Geddes, Professor of Botany at University College, Dundee from 1889 to 1920, was a keen advocate of such an idea.

The Geddes Quadrangle c 1960s
The garden in what is now known as the Geddes Quadrangle was laid out according to an elaborate plan by Geddes to serve an educational function. Geddes designed the garden so that the specimens planted in each bed were from the same scientific group and the beds demonstrated the evolution of that group. He also took a keen interest in the layout of the rest of the College grounds. 

In 1906 it was reported that Geddes had proposed a scheme to create a large botanic garden running from the Perth Road to the edge of the Caledonian Railway at Magdalen Green, covering the site of Clarendon Park Nursery and extending eastwards. In 1909, following the failure of a scheme by the late Bailie Mathers to erect a winter garden at Baxter Park, Geddes contacted the Town Council to propose his own winter garden or botanic garden arguing that he had support from members of the community. He also requested that the University College Council appoint a sub-committee of its members to consider the proposal. However, the College Council opted not to pursue this matter, much to Geddes' regret.

Geddes did no teaching at the University after 1914, but his legacy lived on. As this document from 1929 shows the garden at the front of the College was carefully planned and maintained and showcased a number of species of tree. Proposals for a permanent botanic garden remerged in the 1960s and, with the encouragement of Principal James Drever, the current gardens were established in 1971.

Plan for garden in front of what is now the Tower Building, 1929

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Visit of the Polish National Digital Archives

On Friday 14th October ARMMS had a visit from Sebastian Zduńczyk, Artur Łysik, Arkadiusz Świątek and Andrzej Kochaniak of the Polish National Digital Archives - Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe (NAC) – who gave a presentation about the their organisation. The NAC is one of the three main sections of the Central State Archive in Poland and is located in Warsaw.

Although an ‘Archives of Audio-Visual Records’ had existed in Poland since 1955, it was not until 2008 that it was transformed into the National Digital Archives as a response to the emergence and growth of information technologies. Its main activities are to preserve digital and non-digital photographs, film and audio recordings, and to create digital versions of non-digital archival material for sharing online. At the beginning of 2011 the archive held 30 terabytes of data. Although the NAC is part of the Central State Archive many of these collections are from external organisations.

A large part of this process involves scanning microfilm and each year; between one and a half and two million frames are scanned using state of the art equipment. The NAC also scans photographs and documents, either from its own collections or sent by external organisations. As well as being digitised these items are microfilmed as part of an overall preservation strategy and the NAC now holds some 72 million microfilm frames.

The NAC is also developing websites that permit public access to much of the digitised material and there are over 150,000 digital images on the Audiovis website. Another initiative is the development of a web interface – ZoSIA - that permits access to information about archival collections in the Central State Archive as well as regional State archives across the whole of Poland..

After the presentation the NAC team was given a tour of the University Archives. They were surprised to see photographs of a young Andrzej Wajda, the famous film director, taken by the Hungarian photographer Michael Peto, as well as other Peto photographs showing Warsaw’s immediate post-war restoration and development. These included an image of a part of Warsaw very near the NAC’s own building.

This insight into the work of the National Digital Archives was very interesting and enlightening and we were particularly impressed by the scope and scale of the organisation’s work.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Age of Revolution in the Archives

Over the next two weeks over 270 level one students undertaking the Age of Revolution module on the University’s History Programme will be carrying out a source based exercise which uses material from our collections relating to Dundee in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including maps, a hospital report and an extract from a Dundee Directory. This assessment encourages students to think about primary sources as well as some of the broader issues relating to the impact the industrial revolution had on Dundee, Scotland and the rest of Britain. In previous years many students undertaking this and similar exercises have come to the archives to enhance their work by making use of the many other sources we have relating to life in Dundee at this time, and we anticipate many of this year’s cohort will visit us over the next fortnight. Some of the collections consulted in the past include:

MS 11 Baxter Brothers & Co Ltd. The Baxters operated one of Dundee's major textile works. Their extensive archives include many records relating to the business as well as an account of the early days of flax spinning in Dundee written by Charles Mackie, 'an old mill manager'.

MS 17/P The Thornton Collection of Manuscripts and Plans This collection includes material relating to the coming of the railways to Dundee as well as several plans of Dundee and its buildings

MS 102 The Peter Carmichael of Arthurstone Collection. There are many fascinating items to be found in the papers of one of Scotland’s great factory managers and engineers including photographs of Dundee in the nineteenth century, personal correspondence and an excellent autobiographical account of life and trade in the city.

MS 134 Working Class Life in Dundee for Twenty Five Years, 1878-1903  This study by Dr David Lennox includes much material relating to the late eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century as background to its arguments on the main period it covers.

THB 1 The Dundee Royal Infirmary Collection has a wide range of useful information on life in Dundee at this time including reports of the work of the hospital and disease in Dundee, patient admission registers and directors minutes

KLoc The Kinnear Local Book Collection has a number of rare histories of Dundee as well as publications produced in this period such as the Dundee Directories,  and the Rev. George Lewis's A course of lectures on the physical, educational and moral statistics of Dundee delivered in the Watt Institution Hall in December 1840

The archives also have many other collections which contain material relevant to students of the Industrial Revolution as can be seen from our On-line Catalogue ( and our source lists and subject indexes ( In addition we hold copies of most of a number of useful texts on the history of Dundee in the industrial period which are available for consultation in the search room. These include:

L. Miskell, C. Whatley & B. Harris (eds) Victorian Dundee Image and Realities (East Linton, 1999)
C. McKean, P. Whatley with K. Baxter Lost Dundee (Edinburgh, 2008)
D. Swinfen, A. Smith and C. Whatley The Life and Times of Dundee (Edinburgh, 1993)
C. McKean, Dundee: An Illustrated Architectural Introduction/Guide (Edinburgh, 1984 & 1993)
C. Mckean, C. Whatley and B Harris (Eds) Dundee 1500-1800 Renaissance Burgh to Enlightenment Town (Dundee, 2009)

Dr Kenneth Baxter

Friday, 30 September 2011

Chessor Lillie Matthew

Born in 1914, Chessor Lillie Matthew studied art, design and architecture at Grays School of Art in Aberdeen. He then moved to Wales where was senior assistant at the Welsh School of Architecture at Cardiff College of Technology. In 1958 he was appointed Head of the School of Architecture at Dundee College of Art in succession to John Needham. Matthew clearly made an impression in this role, for just six years later, at the age of 51 he succeeded, H. Adam Crawford as Principal of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art (as Dundee School of Art was by then known). He would hold this post until his retirement in 1978.

Principal Matthew's time in office coincided with a key period in Duncan of Jordanstone's history, when it ended its relationship with Dundee Institute of Art and Technology. Throughout its history the Art College had been a part of what was originally known as the Technical Institute, but by the middle of the twentieth century the College of Technology and the Art College had become virtually separate institutions. By the 1960s the relationship was being questioned with some suggesting closer integration of the two colleges into a polytechnic, an idea not welcomed by the Art College.

Following a review by Sir Charles Wilson it was Matthew's stance which prevailed and Duncan of Jordanstone finally became an independent college in 1975 with Matthew at its head. During the same period Principal Matthew oversaw closer co-operation between Duncan of Jordanstone and the recently established University of Dundee. In a groundbreaking move in 1974 a joint Faculty of Environmental Studies was set up which included departments from both institutions. The ultimate outcome of this process of co-operation was the merger of the Duncan of Jordanstone and the University in 1994.

Matthew’s period in office also saw the College introduce new courses, attract greater numbers of students, and expand the College library. His work as Principal and the contribution he made was praised by his successor Myer Lacome who noted that the College had been left in 'a very healthy state'.

Principal Matthew was a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects and an Associate Member of the Town Planning Institute. A lasting legacy of his time at Duncan of Jordanstone is the Matthew Building, erected during his Principalship and named in his honour. More about Chessor Matthew can be found in the records of Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, which are held by Archive Services.

Dr Kenneth Baxter

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

CAIS Study School, September 2011

September is always an exiting time for us as we upload new and updated course materials to the University's Virtual Learning Environment and prepare for the new semester. The high point in our preparations is the arrival of a new intake of students in Dundee for their pre-course Study School. It's a chance for new students to meet each other and the CAIS staff and tutors, find out how to use the University's online learning systems and to think about the professional issues facing recordkeepers and the theoretical basis for what we do. We really look forward to the Study School and we're excited about the sessions we have planned for the students this year. Everything starts this afternoon and we'll post updates on our discussions as the week unfolds.

Alan Bell and Sarah Wickham, University of Huddersfield and
CAIS Tutor,  leading a session on Records Management, September 2010

Friday, 19 August 2011

Notable University Figures (3): Professor Margaret Fairlie

The story of university education in Dundee has featured many notable women including Mary Ann Baxter, the founder of University College, and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who was the first Chancellor of the University of Dundee. Thus it is perhaps not surprising that Scotland's first female professor, the talented Margaret Fairlie, was appointed in Dundee.

Margaret Fairlie was born in Angus in 1891 and grew up at West Balmirmer Farm near Arbroath. In 1910 she matriculated at University College, Dundee to study at the Conjoint Medical School, marking the start of an association that would last most of the rest of her life. After graduating in 1915, she held various posts in Dundee, Perth, Edinburgh and Manchester, before returning to Dundee in 1919 to run a consultant practice for gynaecology, and started teaching at the Medical School the following year. In the mid 1920s Fairlie joined the staff of Dundee Royal Infirmary becoming head of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in 1936. This appointment displeased at least one male colleague who felt he should have been appointed to the job. Famed for her hard work she was also honorary gynaecologist to Arbroath, Brechin, Montrose and Forfar infirmaries and attended cases throughout Angus and Perthshire

This promotion should have led to a speedy appointment as Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, but moves to appoint her to this position were blocked by the University of St Andrews Court – partly due to on-going conflict between elements at St Andrews and Dundee and partly because of opposition to appointing a female professor. With the Directors of Dundee Royal Infirmary standing behind Fairlie and opinion in Dundee largely supportive of her, four years of impasse followed until the University Court finally granted her a chair in 1940. A popular figure with staff and students, she was noted for her warm hospitality. She retired in 1956, but retained a close connection with both the University and DRI.

In addition to her academic work she was involved in practical medicine delivering many babies and she once suggested that if they were laid out in a line they would stretch from Dundee to beyond Perth. Her work as a doctor also helped reduce Dundee's notoriously high infant mortality rate, and she was involved in the establishment of Dundee’s first ante-natal clinic. Following a visit to the Marie Curie Foundation in Paris in 1926 Fairlie developed a keen interest in the clinical use of radium. Thereafter she became a pioneer in its use in Scotland, employing it in the treatment of malignant gynaecological diseases. She also organised a follow up clinic for the patients she treated with radium, seeing some of them over the twenty years at the clinic she held at Dundee Royal Infirmary. She was much mourned in Dundee on her death in 1963 and was the subject of a number of glowing tributes.

Details of Margaret Fairlie’s extraordinary life and work can be found in a number of our collections including the records of Dundee Royal Infirmary (THB 1) and the University Staff Biographical Collection (UR_SF 1). The old professorial board with Fairlie's name engraved on it (which once stood in the Medical School) is now on permanent display in the corridor beside the Archives.

Dr Kenneth Baxter

Friday, 29 July 2011

Notable University Figures (2): Professor Walter E. Spear

In the second in our series looking at important figures in the University’s past we turn our attention to Walter Spear, one of the most distinguished physicists to have worked at the University of Dundee, and a man whose research made a major contribution to our everyday lives.

Born in Germany in 1921, Walter. E. Spear came to the UK just before the Second World War. After studying at the University of London he joined the University of Leicester, where he first met a student named Peter LeComber whose career would become intertwined with Spear’s own. In 1969 the two joined the staff of the University of Dundee where they would become famed for their research into the properties of amorphous silicon. The work of Spear and LeComber and their research team attracted much interest from companies and groups who saw that it had huge scientific and commercial potential. The research carried out in Dundee led to the creation of the amorphous film silicon transistor. This innovation directly led to LCD technology and the eventual development of solar panels and flat screen TVs. Spear’s work was recognised with a number of prestigious awards including the European Physical Society Europhysics prize (1976) and the Max Born Medal and Prize for Physics (1977).

Spear retired in 1988, and after the sudden death of Peter LeComber in 1992, effectively ended his active research career. Spear himself passed away at the age of 87 in 2008.

Walter Spear’s papers are held by Archive Services (UR-SF 57). They include articles written by Spear and notes for some of his talks and public lectures. The papers also include an unusual collection of letters sent to Spear some of which were sent by members of the public seeking support for their unorthodox scientific theories.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Planned obsolescence

Apple's decision earlier this week to ship a desktop computer without an optical drive prompted Alan to wonder on his personal blog whether this is a sign that CDs and DVDs are reaching the end of their useful life as media for digital information:

The launch of a [new] desktop Mac without an optical drive...put me in mind of the launch of the original iMac in the late 1990s and the paradigm shift in computing which that machine signaled. Back then, Apple were the first to identify that the floppy disk was obsolete; slow, unreliable and lacking the capacity needed for contemporary computing. The iMac was designed from the outset for networked environments and the internet. The rhetorical question Apple asked was 'why would you need a floppy drive if you have email?'.

[Now] in 2011 [we have] the strongest signal to date that optical media is becoming (in computing terms at least) moribund...Software and data are distributed via networks or the cloud and on those increasingly rare occasions where you have no network connection, portable flash storage is cheap and ubiquitous.

[The move away from optical media seems to mark a notable change in the storage and transfer of digital information and will have real implications for recordkeepers]. It's not that long ago that high-quality optical media was being recommended as a good 'vault' for digital information...Similarly, [we are] approaching a situation where we have to keep an optical drive around which can be plugged into a more modern machine to resurrect the only known copy of some important file, in the same way as we've had to keep floppy drives around for some years now...[Does] Apple's decision to ship a desktop computer without an optical drive point to impending obsolescence in the same way that the iMac's lack of a floppy drive did 13 years ago?

Chris Foresman, writing for Ars Technica, has answered that question, at least as far as Apple is concerned:

Apple has drawn the line in the sand: optical discs are out, and digital distribution is the future...

It is important to remember that Apple is only one company and lots of other manufacturers will continue to include optical drives with their PCs. However, Apple has in the past offered a strong indication of the direction of travel in technology and that is why their decision to move away from optical media is so interesting.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Notable University Figures (1): Sir James Alfred Ewing

This is the first in a regular feature in which we will explore the lives of some of the outstanding individuals associated with the University of Dundee and its predecessor institutions. It is fitting to begin by looking at the life a very eminent figure who was born and raised in Dundee and who was associated with University College in its earliest days - Professor Sir James Alfred Ewing.

Professor James Alfred Ewing 1889
James Alfred Ewing was born in 1855 and was the son of the Reverend James Ewing. The senior Ewing had been minister of St Andrew’s Church, but left the Church of Scotland at the great disruption of 1843 to found St Andrew’s Free Church. James Alfred Ewing received his schooling at Dundee’s West End Academy and High School before obtaining a scholarship to study for a degree in engineering at the University of Edinburgh. His academic career began in 1878 when he was appointed Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Physics at the newly established University of Tokyo. While in Japan he researched earthquakes and developed new types of seismometer. He also gave the name to the phenomenon of hysteresis.

The Principal and professors at University College Dundee, 1889. Ewing is 4th from the left.

In 1883 Ewing returned to Dundee as the first holder of the chair of Mechanical Engineering at University College, Dundee. While at UCD he became known for his social work as well as his research. He was horrified by living conditions in his home city and was involved in schemes to try to improve them, notably taking a leading role in work to improve the city’s sewage system.

The Ewing Building at the University of Dundee
Ewing left Dundee in 1890 to take a chair at Cambridge and thereafter enjoyed a highly successful and varied career. After Cambridge he took the post of Director of Naval Education at the Admiralty and during the First World War he was head of the famed Room 40 specialist unit involved in deciphering German coded naval messages. In 1916 he became Principal of the University of Edinburgh, a post he held until 1929. Ewing was knighted in 1911 and died in 1935.

Archive Services hold a series of letters written by Ewing while he was at University College as well as pamphlets either by or about him (UR-SF 44). There is also material about his time at Dundee in a number of the College records of the period. Today Ewing’s name lives on at the University through the Ewing Building which was erected in 1954 and named in his honour.

Kenneth Baxter

Monday, 27 June 2011

Graduation 2011

Some of CAIS' graduates on the steps of Dundee's Caird Hall
(L-R)  Fiona Bourne (MLitt Archives and Records Management),
Fiona Musk (MLitt Archives and Records Management),
Michele Noad (MSc Records Management and Information Rights) and
Donna Kynaston (MSc Archives and Records Management (International)) 
The University's summer graduation ceremonies took place last week. On Wednesday we celebrated the success of more than thirty of our students who graduated from the full range of programmes offered by CAIS including Archives, Records Management, Information Compliance and Family and Local History.

Michele Noad with Leslie Turner
(Postgraduate Certificate in Family and Local History) at
the School of Humanities reception
Graduation is also the time each year that we celebrate the awards to undergraduate students in History named in honour of our former colleague, Dr Mary Young. Congratulations to Bryan Dawes (Mary Young Archive Prize (Level 2)) and Helen Healy (Mary Young Archive Prize (Levels 3 and 4)).

Our warmest congratulations to all of our graduates and to all those who graduated from the University of Dundee last week.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Tom Craigie 1926-2011

The staff of ARMMS were very sad to hear that Tom Craigie, formerly a local businessman, died recently at the age of 84. Mr Craigie was a regular researcher for the past six years and with his keen sense of humour, friendliness and cheerful attitude he became one of our most popular readers. Indeed, he was practically part of the department, on occasion referring to us as his staff, while we, in turn, would threaten to ‘dock his wages’. Each Tuesday Mr Craigie would travel to the Archives from his home in Carnoustie and spend most of the day on his research. He would keep us posted on his movements so that we knew the days he wouldn’t be in – more often than not his absence was due to trips to Italy with his son and daughter-in-law. Each Christmas he kept us well supplied with shortbread and biscuits.

Mr Craigie first visited the archives a few years after the death of his wife. He was looking for a photograph of the old railway bridge that crossed the eastern end of Americanmuir Road where he and his wife had often met during their courting days back in the 1940s. Although no photograph could be found the search sparked his interest in the Dundee and Newtyle Railway Company. From that point on Mr Craigie became the Archives’ most regular reader over a period of six years, working methodically through our substantial Dundee and Newtyle collection.

His research also took him to the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh. He identified previously unseen archival material relating to the Dundee and Newtyle railway and Mr Craigie’s knowledge of the railway’s history was undoubtedly unparalleled; he spotted mistakes in leaflets or museum displays instantly. Ultimately his goal was to publish his research in a book that would certainly have cast new light on the history of the company.

Unfortunately Mr Craigie died before being able to do so, his death coming as a shock to the ARMMS staff. His absence from the search room will be keenly felt and he will be sadly missed by all. He will live on in our memories as a very special man.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Preservation and Disaster Management for Information Professionals

On 6th May, Jennifer submitted two assignments to the Centre for Archive and Information Studies at the University of Dundee as part of the module ‘Preservation and Disaster Management for Information Professionals’. Jennifer studied the module as continuing professional development (CPD) having completed the Centre's MLitt in Archives and Records Management last year. The module, as with all CAIS modules, is delivered online by distance learning and can be taken by archivists, records managers and other information professionals.

The Preservation module helps with identifying and dealing with nasty pests like this

The module was split into two sections. The first looked at preservation and at different types of archival material and how these should be stored. It covered threats from the environment, from pests and mould, and how to undertake a preservation survey and implement a preservation policy. The second part dealt with disaster management, identifying risks, preparing for an emergency and creating and implementing a disaster plan.

How to deal with threats to archives: first catch your bug!
Jennifer wanted to do this module in order to have a greater awareness of the issues facing the collections at ARMMS as well as the best ways to protect these and says ‘There was a lot on information in this module and it made me realise how many potential threats there are to be on the look out for! Having done the module I am a lot more aware of how to identify and reduce the risk from these threats.’
For more information on this module and others offered by CAIS see our website or contact

The Call of the Sea - An Exhibition by Museum Services for Dundee's WestFest

Atlantic Surf by William McTaggart, 1899 (courtesy of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group)
Scottish artists have long been fascinated by the sea and by our relationship with it. This exhibition showcases items as diverse as early 19th century landscape painting and contemporary mixed-media works and includes items by famous names such as William McTaggart and Ian Hamilton Finlay alongside the work of students from the University's Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

The exhibition includes a special focus on the work of Will Maclean (Emeritus Professor of Fine Art), in celebration of his 70th birthday this year. As well as rarely seen works from the University's own collections, the exhibition includes loans from both public and private collections. It has been specially curated as part of the WestFest festival in Dundee which runs 13th-19th June.

The exhibition is in the Lamb Gallery of the University's Tower Building and can be viewed Monday-Friday 09:30-20:30 and 9:30-16:30 on Saturdays, 14th May-25th June.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

The Fourth Conference on Archival Information Databases

Michael Bolik, the Senior Assistant Archivist, presented a paper in May at the Fourth Conference on Archival Information Databases organized by the Brazilian Archivists Association and held in Rio de Janeiro. The paper was a reflection on the University of Dundee Archives’ quarter century of experience with varying types of archival databases and the issues associated with the use of databases.

Encountering pipes and drums marching beside the beach in Ipanema shortly after stepping off the plane was a surreal experience but one that augured well for the conference. The programme was intense and varied and related to the effect of information technology on archival theory and practice.

The eight keynote addresses were delivered by speakers from Brazil, the United States and Portugal and reflected on several interesting and challenging themes. Overall the conference examined such issues as the changing nature of archival language necessitated by the growth of IT in archives, the application of archival management systems, the increasing requirement to address the needs of users, and the growing tension between traditional archival practices and the expectations of a generation accustomed to the internet and to instant information retrieval.

Judging from the papers at the conference there seems to be a general trend towards cooperation between archivists and IT professionals to develop solutions applicable to the archival world. Archivists agree that information technology can and should be used to open up collections but issues relating to standards, controlled vocabularies, and preferred types of archival software remain. The conclusion of the conference was, however, optimistic. Current developments will draw the archival world closer together as it adapts to a future in which information technology will play an increasingly dominant role.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

New edition of the ICA/SUV Newsletter

The latest edition of the ICA/SUV Newsletter was published recently and is available online here. The newsletter includes articles on the Manumed Project (Maghreb and the Mashreq), the preservation needs of archival institutions in Africa and this issue introduces a new column about digital matters; ‘Digital Galore'.

ICA/SUV is the Section of the International Council on University and Research Institution Archives (SUV). It provides a forum for record keeping professionals from universities and scientific institutions to discuss issues of common interest, to promote their collections and to create resources that can be used by colleagues throughout the world. The Section currently has around one hundred members including ARMMS and Pat, our Head of Department and the Director of CAIS, is currently the Secretary of ICA/SUV. ARMMS/CAIS' support for ICA/SUV is long-standing and in 2007 included hosting the Section's annual conference in Dundee. The conference later this year will be hosted by the University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada in July.

Attendees at the ICA/SUV conference dinner at Fingask Castle, near Dundee, August 2007

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Our exhibition spaces - No. 2, The Tayside Medical History Museum

The main exhibition space for the Tayside Medical History Museum is in the foyer of the Medical School at Ninewells Hospital. Here we have both permanent displays and various exhibitions. The space is open daily 9am-5pm and by appointment at other times.

We also have a temporary display case in the main concourse of Ninewells and two permanent displays; the Dundee Royal Infirmary Memorial Wall which is in the concourse and a display of early X-ray equipment in the Radiology department.

Various works of art also decorate the Medical School foyer area and lecture theatres.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Dundee to Damascus - An Exhibition by Museum Services

The latest exhibition in the University's Tower Foyer Gallery features stunning black and white photographs of the cities of Dundee and Damascus, taking the viewer on a journey from one great city to the other.

The pictures are the work of local photographer Mandy MacFarlane. Striking views of the Tay Bridge, the McManus and other local landmarks are accompanied by images of the Great Umayyad Mosque and scenes of people going about their day-to-day business at the Souk Al-Hamadiye and in other parts of the ancient city of Damascus.

Mandy MacFarlane is a self-taught photographer who has worked at the University as a tutor for the Academic Achievement Unit. She uses an SLR camera with 35mm black and white film and hand-prints her own photographs.

The exhibition runs until 18 June in the Tower Building. Admission is free.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

What's in a name?

It was one year ago today that we bought the domain name for our blog; In that year we've had 6,719 visitors (with 10,791 overall since we launched the blog in August 2009). All those visits add up to a remarkable 11,061 page views (or 18,424 since August 2009). We wanted to take this chance to say thanks to everyone who visits our blog. We hope that you continue to enjoy our posts.

Screenshot and statistics from Google's Analytics service.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Our exhibition spaces - No. 1, The Lamb Gallery

The Lamb Gallery, University of Dundee

The Lamb Gallery is our largest exhibition space and can be found on the first floor of the University's Tower Building. It has traditional wood panelling and an impressive view down to the Tower Foyer.

The gallery is named after James Charles Lamb (1894-1962), a former student of University College Dundee and also a member of the University College Council from 1947 to 1951. His bequest in 1960 founded the University's Fine Art Fund. When he died shortly after the Tower Building opened, it was decided to name the exhibition gallery that had been created on the first floor mezzanine in his honour.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Treasures of Glamis Castle

The staff of Archive, Records Management and Museum Services visited Glamis Castle on Thursday and were given a rare opportunity to visit the Castle’s Archives. The tour was organised by the Glamis Castle Archivist and former ARMMS colleague, Ingrid Thomson. After a tour of the Castle we climbed the 91 steps of the spiral staircase in the clock tower to reach the Archives. Ingrid had selected various items for us to see that revealed the historical wealth of the Castle’s collection. These included a Papal Bull from 1575, a menu book from 1666, items relating to the wedding of Prince Albert and Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (now topical because of The King’s Speech), hunts books and the memoirs of Mary Eleanor Bowes. A visitor book contained the young princesses signatures ‘Lilibet’ and ‘Margaret Rose’.

Mary Eleanor Bowes, the ancestor of Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, left a journal detailing her eventful life. As a young heiress with a considerable fortune she set her sights on John Lyon, the 9th Earl of Strathmore, marrying him on her eighteenth birthday in 1767. The marriage, although fruitful in terms of children, was ultimately an unhappy one for Mary Eleanor and she found comfort in a series of extra-marital relationships. When he died she was pregnant at the time by a lover, George Gray.

The following year she had the misfortune to encounter the Anglo-Irish adventurer Andrew Robinson Stoney. He fought a duel with the editor of the Morning Post newspaper to defend her honour for publishing defamatory articles about her private life. Apparently suffering a mortal wound, he persuaded the Countess to grant him a last dying wish and marry him; he was even stretchered to the altar. Stoney did not die however and had in fact staged the duel with the cooperation of the editor in order to marry Mary Eleanor and gain access to her wealth. She suffered eight years of mental and physical abuse for the Countess that culminated in a brutal abduction after she began to file for divorce. Eventually she gained her freedom and Stoney was imprisoned for the kidnapping.

ARMMS has a strong connection with the Glamis Castle Archives. Researchers wishing to consult the Glamis material do so in the University of Dundee Archive Services search room. In addition the Glamis Cataloguing Project – a cooperative venture with the University Archives - has developed a database of item level descriptions of the Castle’s archive material. The database was named the Mary Young Glamis Castle Databse, in memory of our colleague who passed away last year and is still greatly missed by all.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Religious collections at the University of Dundee

Palm Sunday Processions
Last week we held a departmental training session on the subject of religious enquiries. The session gave us the opportunity to explore the types of past enquiries we have received, consider which areas of research had proved to be of greatest interest and ascertain which of the archive’s holdings can be used when researching religion. Within our collections we hold a range of useful resources including church plans, congregational and committee minutes and registers of births, marriages and burials. The session also gave us the opportunity to look at some published sources such as Hew Scott’s Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae: The Succession of Ministers in the Parish Churches of Scotland from the Reformation, A.D to the Present Time, Vol. III, Part II: Synods of Aberdeen, and Angus and Mearns  (KLoc F 285.241 F 251) and David Bertie’s Scottish Episcopal Clergy (GH 438) as well as the archived volumes of statistical accounts compiled by Parish Ministers (see KLoc 914.131 D 914 and KLoc 914.1 T 445), useful sources of 18th and 19thcentury church history. 

Membership list, Glasite Church
In addition, we examined various external resources that are available for genealogists and/or those exploring church history or Scotland’s past in general. Identified as being of particular interest were two online resources, MUNDUS, a web based gateway to the records of more than 400 collections of overseas missionary materials held across the UK, and the Scottish Archive’s Network’s (SCAN) website, which provides a single electronic point of access to catalogue holdings of more than 50 Scottish Archives. 
The session ended with a series of questions designed to test our knowledge and understanding of the materials in our care and further hone our investigative skills. All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative training session and one that will inform future practice when handling requests of a religious nature. 

For more information about our religious holdings please see our subject source list,, search our online catalogue, or email us at

Friday, 1 April 2011

New ways to view our blog

Google's Blogger service (the platform we use for this blog) has just launched some new ways to view blogs such as this one. If you use a modern browser (IE 8, Chrome, Safari, Firefox 4 etc) and add /view to the end of the URL of the blog you're looking at you'll see five new ways to browse through posts. We've configured this blog so that the new views work with our content. If you're interested you might want to take a look at:
You can also see each new view in turn by clicking on the following links:
The new 'Mosaic' view

Thursday, 31 March 2011

Bound for Brighton

CAIS leaflets for the IRMS Conference
The annual conference of the Information and Records Management Society takes place in Brighton next week and CAIS will be there as an exhibitor. We'll be on hand to answer questions about our Masters degrees, short courses, certificates and research opportunities in Records Management, Digital Preservation and Information Rights.

If you're going to the conference please stop by Stand 21 and say hello. If you would like more information about any of our courses or programmes please email

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

J M Barrie and Rudyard Kipling

In the 1920s University College, Dundee was fortunate enough to receive visits from two of the great literary figures of the day, Sir James M Barrie and Rudyard Kipling. Both visited the College in their role as Lord Rector of the University of St Andrews. At the time University College was part of St Andrews. 

Barrie bowling to Haig
 Barrie might have had cause to be wary of visiting the Dundee campus despite the fact that he was a native of nearby Kirriemuir. In the 1919 Rectorial Election he had been seen as the candidate favoured by St Andrews, while students at University College had reputedly supported the Fourth Marquess of Bute. However as Barrie had ultimately won a comfortable majority, it is likely that he had ultimately received substantial backing from Dundee students. In some ways this should not have been surprising, as Barrie had an earlier association with the College. In 1903, he contributed the essay ‘A Confession’ to The Meal-Poke, a miscellany published by the University College Student’s Union Bazaar.

Haig preparing to take a shot
In May 1922 Barrie came to Scotland to deliver his celebrated ‘Courage’ address at St Andrews. On the same visit he and Douglas Haig, the Earl Haig, (the recently elected Chancellor of the University of St Andrews) visited Dundee to open the new University College playing fields at Downfield. Earl Haig’s visit was in itself very significant as it was the first time University College had been visited by its Chancellor. Haig probably felt some affinity with the College, as he had been nominated for the chancellorship by Principal McKay of University College, and had been awarded the freedom of the city of Dundee in 1919.

Both men delighted the large crowd who were present at Downfield by stepping up to action on the new cricket field. The Peter Pan author bowled a few balls to the Field-Marshal, but was somewhat disappointed not to claim his wicket. Barrie gave highly entertaining speeches both at the playing fields and at an official reception at the Caird Hall. As well as regaling listeners with stories of his love and experiences of cricket, Barrie described his pride that his native Forfarshire contained one of the greatest cities of the British Empire. He also advised his audience of the importance of University College, arguing that a city’s ‘chief pride’ should be its University. After leaving the Caird Hall the two men went to University College itself, where they were warmly received by staff and students. Barrie, who announced he planned to withdraw from public life, described the day as the ‘happiest of my life’.

Rudyard Kipling
In 1923 Barrie’s successor Rudyard Kipling also made the trip to Dundee when he came to St Andrew’s to give his Rectorial address. Again he was very well received by staff, students and the people of the city. In a memorable address he praised the relationship between University College, Dundee and the University of St Andrews arguing that it was a source of strength not just to Dundee, but also to St Andrews. He also called on the merchant princes and leading citizens of Dundee to give their support to the college. Poignantly, he observed that by doing so their names could live on even if their line was to die out. Indeed he implored people to consider giving money and support towards the education of young men in memory of ‘some son of yours who should have borne’ your name. Kipling had of course lost his only son, Jack, at the Battle of Loos in 1915, a battle where a large number of casualties came from Dundee.

Dr Kenneth Baxter