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

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