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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Erskine 1916: Princess Mary Christmas tin

By Bethany Lane, University of Glasgow MSc Museum Studies postgraduate student

Blog - TinWhen it became clear that the war was not going to be over by Christmas in 1914, Princess Mary wanted to give the soldiers at the front and the sailors at sea a gift for Christmas. The gifts were planned in October and distributed in time for Christmas. The gifts were extended to include all of those on active service, POWs, and the next of kin of those who had died in 1914. In total, an estimated 2,620,019 tins were circulated across the empire.

In her public fundraising appeal for the gifts, Princess Mary stated:

‘I am sure that we should all be happier to feel that we had helped to send our little token of love and sympathy on Christmas morning, something that would be useful and of permanent value, and the making of which may be the means of providing employment in trades adversely affected by the war.’

For smokers, the tins contained a card, photograph of the Princess and gifts such as tabacco, cigarettes, pipe and lighter. For non- smokers, the tins contained a card, photograph of the Princess and acid tablets and writing material. Minority groups were respected, for example Sikhs receiving sugar candy and spices. Nurses received chocolate and a card in their tin. When items became difficult to locate, substitute gifts were collected. Examples of these are shaving brushes, combs, pencil cases, postcards, and purses.

The contents from the tin in Erskine’s collection have been long gone but, as a treasured item, it was kept and contained World War One medals, photographs, and letters.


Read Bethany’s previous posts on silk embroidered postcards, battlefield pillowcases, a pantomime leaflet, and a regimental insignia quilt in the collections of the Erskine Hospital.

For more information and study resources, see the Imperial War Museum’s page on the Christmas tins of 1914.


Hard Drinkers and Hard Fighters

By Ellen Embleton, Club 21 Intern and undergraduate student in History and English Literature, University of Glasgow

With the global significance of the Great War, the input of a small community like that of the University of Glasgow could very easily be marginalized. Glasgow University’s Roll of Honour, however, refuses to let this happen in its efforts to commemorate the life of every student and staff member who fell in the years between 1914 and 1918, as well as those who served and survived. It is this restoration of the human element to the Great War that inspired my involvement in writing Roll of Honour biographies. With the passing of the last of the WWI veterans, the lives of these servicemen may seem, more so than ever, very distant from our own. Yet many of them studied the same subjects as I study, had the same aims as I have and even lived on the same road as I live on now. Glasgow University’s Roll of Honour reminds us of these similarities and allows us to glimpse the people and life behind the action of the War.

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Erskine 1916: Regimental Quilt

By Bethany Lane, University of Glasgow MSc Museum Studies postgraduate student

Blog - QuiltThis regimental quilt was an entry in the Domestic Welfare Exhibition, which was on from 13th October to 1st November 1924. The exhibition showcased arts, crafts, building trades, furnishings and photographs. The highlight of the exhibition was a steel house, which made front page news. For the three weeks it was open, there was an extensive musical programme led by the band from the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. This quilt was awarded ‘special’ second prize by the judges.


Read Bethany’s previous posts on silk embroidered postcards, battlefield pillowcases, and a pantomime leaflet in the collections of the Erskine Hospital.


Japan and the University of Glasgow during the early 20th century

By Eriko Ueno, MLitt History of Art postgraduate student, University of Glasgow

The first consultation between Ito Hirobumi (later to become the first Prime Minister of Japan) and William John Macquorn Rankine (then Regius Chair of Civil Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Glasgow) took place during the early period of Japan’s Meiji restoration; and this meeting marked the beginning of the fruitful relationship between Japan and the University of Glasgow, particularly in the field of engineering science. Ever since the 1870s, many Japanese students obtained their expertise at the University and later contributed to their home country’s rapid modernization.[1] As part of my Club 21 internship with Glasgow University’s Great War Project in the University of Glasgow Archives, I have come to discover that this flourishing relationship kept alive around the time of the First World War, too. In 1914, Japan allied itself with Britain and the Entente Powers, providing naval support and taking action against Germany’s Pacific territories.

On the occasion of the centenary of the First World War (2014-2018), Glasgow University’s Great War Project is providing a deeper understanding of the University’s experience, by sharing stories of its alumni and staff members who lived during the wartime. As an international student from Japan, I was offered a valuable opportunity to be involved in the project and received a fascinating assignment to research the Japanese students who studied here in Glasgow around the time of the First World War. Through my research, I have found that many of Japanese international students studied engineering science and later assumed important roles both at governmental organisations and private companies in relevant fields in Japan.

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Erskine 1916: Pantomime Somewhere in France

By Bethany Lane, University of Glasgow MSc Museum Studies postgraduate student

Entertainment was very common on the frontline as it gave the men a healthy distraction from fighting or their injuries. At the beginning of the war, most concerts were carried out by fighting men. These men were often musicians, singers or comedians. However, by 1918, a theatre company was assembled to specifically entertain the troops. Sometimes their sketches would act as an outlet for grievances about conditions or food, while on other occasions works of Shakespeare were performed. The events were often sell-out hours before the curtain went up.

Blog - Panto

In line with British tradition, this particular pantomime was performed at Christmas in 1915 and organised by a Glasgow Highlander. The language the leaflet uses is very informal, with a humorous tone that’s fits the period. This programme was treasured and brought back by a soldier from Paisley.


Read Bethany’s previous posts on silk embroidered postcards, and battlefield pillowcases in the collections of the Erskine Hospital.


Theology After the War

By Alicia Henneberry, postgraduate student, Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow

This is the last of a series of posts on Theology at the University of Glasgow during the First World War.

The last of my series on the chaplains of Glasgow University will focus mostly on an item in Glasgow University Library’s Special Collections entitled Theology After the War. This lecture given by Professor HMB Reid at the closing of the 1915-1916 school year to the Divinity Faculty confirmed many of my archival findings about the general temperament of the Faculty during the war, and reveals just how much of a toll the war took on the hearts and minds of these lecturers and their students.

As we have seen from the meeting minutes and lists in the University Archive, dozens of students left for the front, leaving behind their textbooks in favour of weapons and uniforms. The opening of Professor Reid’s lecture illuminates just how big of an impact the war made.

“We have watched the steady ebbing of our numbers, and to-day we are face to face with the fact that practically all our students have been armed for the national service. Nearly fifty of them are either in home cantonments getting ready, or in the field of battle.”

For the Divinity Faculty, forty students was a substantial level of participation.

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Meeting Minutes of the Divinity Faculty during WWI

By Alicia Henneberry, postgraduate student, Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow

This is one of a series of posts on Theology at the University of Glasgow during the First World War.

My first post about the education of University of Glasgow chaplains and theologians for the Great War and the Faculty of Divinity focused on the roll of speakers who addressed the Faculty. In this post I will focus on the record of meeting minutes for the professors of Divinity, which gives a good idea of how the war affected the department over the duration of the war. The University Archive is in possession of two minute books for the war years, Glasgow University Archive References DIV1/4 and DIV1/5, which cover the meetings that took place in the first half of the twentieth century. (For anyone interested in perusing these records for themselves, I would highly suggest looking at DIV1/5, as the handwriting is much more legible!)

University of Glasgow Archives Reference: DIV1/4

Faculty of Divinity minute book. University of Glasgow Archives Reference: DIV1/4

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