Papers of Sir Patrick Geddes

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Correspondence, manuscripts, typescripts, pamphlets and books, photographs, maps, plans, prints and drawings, including Geddes's famous 'thinking machines'. There are around 10,000 documents and 4000 maps etc

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932) was a biologist, sociologist and town planner with a strong interest in education, the arts, history and many other subjects. He believed strongly in the inter-relationships between all branches of knowledge. Geddes grew up and was educated in Scotland, and studied biology in London. After a professional career as a biologist in London and France, he settled in the late 1880s in Edinburgh, where he became involved in the regeneration of the Old Town. He was particularly involved in the Ramsay Garden complex of private housing, student hall of residence and artists' studios, and in the Outlook Tower. In 1889 Geddes became Professor of Botany at Dundee University College, where he was required to be present for only 3 months of the year. This gave him the opportunity to pursue many other interests. In the ensuing decades, Geddes developed a highly individualistic theory of human societies and their spatial manifestation in the city and in the country, drawing upon theories in biology, geography, philosophy and politics. In 1904 Geddes published his first major report, City development: a study of parks, gardens and culture institutes, which enhanced his reputation among architects and planners. After 1900, Geddes's activities centred on London, where he co-founded the Sociological Society in 1903 and showed his Cities and Town Planning Exhibition in 1911. From 1914-1924 Geddes lived mainly in India, where he was involved in town planning. He accepted the Chair of Sociology and Civics at the University of Bombay in 1919. At this period, Geddes designed the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, garden suburbs for Jerusalem and Haifa, settlements elsewhere in Palestine, and the master plan for Tel Aviv. After his return to Europe in 1924, Geddes settled in Montpellier, France, where he founded the Scots College as an International University to propagate his ideas. He was knighted in 1932 and died at Montpellier. There are many published books on the life and work of Patrick Geddes. The Geddes papers were gifted to the Royal Technical College ( predecessor of the University of Strathclyde) in 1955 by his son, Arthur Geddes and the Trustees of the Outlook Tower.

Conditions Governing Access


Other Finding Aids

Printed catalogue to item level available in Search Room (Copies available for sale). Index accessible online on Archives web site

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Some of the documents, plans and photographs are very fragile

Archivist's Note

Archivist's note: Description prepared by Margaret Harrison, Web version by Graham S. Holton, Jordanhill LibraryRules or Conventions: Description based on Scottish Archive Network guidelines, based on ISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2000). and Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997)Date of descriptions: December 2007.

Related Material

GB 249 T-TYR Papers of Jaqueline Tyrwhitt

GB 233 MSS 10501-657, 19253-87, 19994-99 Correspondence and papers of Sir Patrick Geddes in National Library of Scotland

Correspondence from Patrick Geddes to James Mavor in Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, MS 119

GB 237 Sar Coll Correspondence to Charles Sarolea from Patrick Geddes, Edinburgh University Library Special Collections