University of Glasgow


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Please note that these pages are from our old (pre-2010) website; the presentation of these pages may now appear outdated and may not always comply with current accessibility guidelines.

World War One

Finding primary source material in Special Collections

Material relating to 6th Battalion Cameron Highlanders

Including diaries, reminiscences and letters from the front: MS Gen 1376 & MS Gen 532:

MS Gen 1376/1-2: retrospective notes and reminiscences of Robert McOwan who joined the battalion as one of a draft of 250 just after the battle of Loos in 1915; includes accounts of the Somme and the Marne.
MS Gen 1376/4: diary of John Kenneth Bulfin-Crawford from 4 July to 17 November 1915.
MS Gen 1376/6: diary of James Campbell from 8th July 1915 to 16th March 1918.
MS Gen 1376/7: souvenir booklet of the Sixth Cameron Highlanders, 1916.
MS Gen 1376/8-10; 12-16: reunion club material, minute books and press cuttings.
MS Gen 1376/11: photographs.
MS Gen 532: some seventy letters from Captain F. J. MacCunn to his family recounting his experiences as a soldier, from a telegram saying goodbye in September 1914 to correspondence concerning his death in 1915.

Papers of Alec Lawrence Macfie

MS Gen 1517/1: correspondence from 1917-18, to his mother, describing military training in Cambridge and elsewhere and war service in France; comprises of 76 letters, 10 postcards, & 1 letter journal.
MS Gen 1643/580-642: material from his brother, John Mandeville Macfie, relating to the Salonika campaign; includes maps, postcards and photographs.

MacCallum Scott papers

Alexander MacCallum Scott (1874-1928) was Secretary of the League of Liberals against Aggression and Militarism, and Secretary of the New Reform Club before becoming Liberal M.P. for the Bridgeton constituency of Glasgow in 1910. During the First World War he was Parliamentary Private Secretary to Winston Churchill. The papers include correspondence with constituents and contemporaries, drafts of speeches, and political diaries:

MS Gen 1465 (items 5-9 particularly relevant, being his political diaries from 1914 to 1919).

Protective coloration of ships

MS Gen 1302: collection of typescript documents relating to the protective coloration of ships etc. in the Great War, compiled by Sir John Graham Kerr.

As well as those collections mentioned above, war touches on and is mentioned in the letters and papers of most of those people alive during the period. For example, a series of letters from the composer Gustav Holst (MS Gen 1350) includes some from his time in Salonika in 1918, while those letters written 1914-18 in a collection of correspondence from the Edinburgh schoolteacher Christina Hunter Lawson (MS Gen 525) provide a civilian's viewpoint of the war experience. There is therefore much more material of relevance than it is possible to list here. Since most Glasgow University Library stock is available via on-line catalogues, this material is easy to trace independently:

Manuscripts catalogue

Unpublished material (including photographs, typescripts etc) is indexed on the Special Collections manuscripts catalogue.

The catalogue may be searched via name, document or collection: for more guidance see the help page.

Some search strategies: -

  • to find any items relating to Winston Churchill, use the Name Search option, typing 'Churchill' in the top name box and 'w' in the forenames box
  • to find any items produced in 1914, use the Document Search option, typing '1914' in the year box
  • to find any items relating to conscription use the Document Search option, typing 'conscription' in the word (or phrase) in description box

NB: Use the Word (or Phrase) in Description box for keyword-type searches; note, however, that the manuscripts catalogue is not subject indexed, and successful searches therefore rely upon matching words that have been used in the descriptions section of the record (tip: be prepared to try different keywords and synonyms).

Printed Books

Records for all the printed material held in the library are indexed on the main library catalogue, with the usual fields to search (author, title, keyword etc); this catalogue includes printed books in Special Collections and material held in the library's remote store (housing lesser used material, including many books of relevance published at the beginning of the twentieth century).

Use the Advanced Keyword Search option to limit searches to material held in Special Collections and/or by date:

  • to find any books relating to war published between 1914 and 1918, use the Advanced Keyword Search option, typing 'war' in the main search box and '1913' in the Year: After box in the Optional Limits section; try the same search using  'western front', 'conflict', etc as keywords. 

I am always happy to try and help locate relevant material and advise on best use of the collections:
Julie Gardham:; 330 3791 (office); 330 6767 (Special Collections reading room).