Welcome to Glasgow’s Literary Bonds!

This website offers a list and contextualised information on approximately 200 literary societies that were running in Glasgow during the long nineteenth century (here defined as 1800 to 1914).

Thousands of people in the nineteenth century formed groups to educate themselves, discuss and debate current events, and talk about books and reading. Collectively, these groups were known as mutual improvement societies. This project focuses on one type known as literary societies – groups that studied and discussed literature along with history, science and current events.

This site offers a searchable list of a range of little-known materials on these historic groups, and offers an opportunity for academics as well as community members to explore some of the abundant materials in libraries, archives and special collections across Glasgow and beyond.

The materials presented here offer an unprecedented opportunity to study one city’s response to rapid industrialisation, an equally rapid influx of migrants, increased rates of literacy, and a burgeoning intellectual culture over the course of the century.

In addition, it provides an invaluable resource for teaching Scottish social and cultural history, and working-class responses to and the production of literature. One of the aims of sharing this research is to encourage and stimulate new studies on ‘improving’ societies locally and internationally by facilitating access to resources.

This project has been generously funded by the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow, and is hosted by the University of Strathclyde. The digitised issue of the Barony M.S. Magazine has kindly been provided by the University of Strathclyde Archives.

Copyright and Permissions

This project is a non-profit bibliographical resource created for use for research and educational purposes. It aims to encourage the people in and beyond Glasgow to engage with the archival and library resources available in their own communities. We hope that academics, teachers, students, archivists, library and museum professionals, and local and family historians in Scotland and internationally will enjoy exploring and using this site.

The text on this website is based on doctoral research conducted by Dr Lauren Weiss and is copyrighted. In addition, selected texts from previously published works have been quoted and cited accordingly, all of which are under their original copyright. Permission is granted to reproduce the text (i.e. the downloadable PDFs) for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying is prohibited. Textual material may not be published in any form without direct written permission from the Project Editor. Where this work is cited for non-profit, academic and research purposes, it should be credited as follows: Lauren Weiss, ed., Glasgow’s Literary Bonds < https://www.glasgowsliterarybonds.org/> [date when website was accessed].

Permission for the use of all the images on this website has been granted for use solely on the site. The copyright remains with the respective archives, libraries and individual societies as cited on the webpages on which they appear and may not be reproduced in any form.