We’re only a few weeks into the New Year and we’ve already received a number of interesting new additions to our collections. One of these accessions is a box of papers which was transferred to us by our library colleagues which contains fascinating material relating to the campaign for greater Scottish self-government in the 1950s. The focus of this campaign was the Scottish Covenant, a petition demanding a Scottish parliament, which was signed by over two million Scots in 1949-50.
The papers were included with a large donation of books on mining and geology given to the library by the geologist Robert Robinson and detail his involvement in the campaign. They include minutes and reports of the National Covenant Committee (1950-51) and the Scottish Covenant Association (1952-53). Robinson was an active member of these groups and many of the papers are annotated, providing further details of the discussions that took place at the meetings he attended. Leaflets and newsletters produced by these groups are also present, along with pamphlets on Scottish nationalism. There is also a file of correspondence which includes a letter from December 1949 which highlights some of the difficulties that were faced in collecting the signatures for the Scottish Covenant. Writing to a fellow committee member Robinson noted that:
“I did not have time to look at the Scottish Covenant form which was signed up last night at the ceilidh at the McKillop Hall, but I see this morning that none of the penciled names would be accepted by the Scottish National Assembly Committee as they are obviously written by only one or two hands. I also know that several of the people given on the form were not there and that their signatures are therefore forged! I have rubbed out all the penciled names and would be very grateful to you if you would collect the names of the people living in the glen who will sign. Actual signatures of everyone in the household wanted!”
This small collection of personal papers will make a great addition to our Scottish Political Archive. Established in 2010 the SPA is collecting material relating to Scottish politicians and political organisations through oral history interviews and the donation of personal papers and memorabilia and has already amassed an impressive range of material recording the last 60 years of Scottish politics.
A plastic Oscar… a pair of shoe buckles… an old wooden sign… If you visit the university library over the coming months you may notice some rather unusual objects on display in Archives & Special Collections. These items form part of a selection of ‘Treasures’ from our collections, chosen by library and academic staff to highlight the wide range of material available to researchers. Each of the selected items has its own fascinating story, which is told in the short essay which accompanies each of the exhibits. The exhibition touches on both great historical events and small family dramas, and highlights periods of great cultural change. For those interested in exploring further information on our collections can be found here, while an online version of the exhibition can be viewed here.