Records of the Glasgow University Dialectic Society, student society, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

GB 248 DC 38 is held by Glasgow University Archive Services:

  • Board meeting minutes 1969-1983;
  • Secretary's correspondence and papers 1978-1980;
  • Constitution and by-laws c1877;
  • Constitution and by-laws written by Robert Kemp, Secretary n.d.;
  • Membership card 1879-1880;
  • Syllabus with honorary members and constitution 1897-1898;
  • Programme: Trial by Jury - proceeds to the Students' Welfare Scheme (2 copies - one autographed) 1921;
  • Programme: Via Veritas, Vita (Scenes from University Life) 1923;
  • Account of the reasons for the disruption in 1876 and the eventual amalgamation of the two associations, united under the name of the Dialectic Society c1877;
  • An historical sketch of the Society 1922;
  • Notice of the opening address by the Duke of Argyll on 15 Nov with history of Society and current status (with the list of office bearers, 1889-1890) 1889.

GB 247 MS Gen 1307-1310 is held by Glasgow University Library Special Collections:

  • Board minutes 1873-1879, 1888-1927, 1941-1968;
  • Society meeting minutes Section A 1871-1905;
  • Society meeting minutes Section B 1872-1883;
  • Ordinary meeting minutes 1926-1933, 1955-1978;
  • Membership roll books for sections A and B 1872-1883;
  • Account book 1935-1947.

Administrative / Biographical History

Glasgow University Dialectic Society was instituted in 1861  at the University of Glasgow , Scotland, as a society for the discussion of literary, philosophical and political subjects. The Society, in some form, has been in existence for some years earlier. The Society has been prominent in University life and in 1885  , along with the Glasgow University Medico-Chirurgical Society , helped to establish the Glasgow University Union (GUU).

Originally a male only club, membership is now mixed and open to matriculated members of the University and ex-members upon payment of a subscription. The Society's main aim is to foster and promote debate. The highlight of the Society's debating year is the Glasgow University Union debate lasting 12 hours, which is a contest based on the Westminster parliament with five debating clubs: Tories, Whigs, Scottish Nationalists, Distributists, and Independent Socialists. The Society also runs it own annual competitions, the Reftable Debate, the Intravarsity Competition, and the Roddy Neilson. In addition, the Society runs workshops, lunchtime debates and sends teams to compete in inter-varsity competitions. The Society however is not all debating and it provides its members with a full calendar of social events, the highlight of which is the Annual Dinner held in January as well as holding 2 major debates each term.

In 2002, the society is administered by a Board consisting of president, vice-president, secretary, assistant secretary, treasurer, whip secretary, publicity secretary, macer, and social convenor; the first 5 of whom constitute the Executive committee. These are elected from the ordinary members of the society at the annual general meeting held each year in the Whitsun term.


The material is split between two repositories within the University of Glasgow: Glasgow University Archive Services hold material with reference GB 248 DC 38 and Glasgow University Library Special Collections hold material with reference GB 247 MS Gen 1307-1310. Material is arranged in to series as shown in the scope and content. Within series, items are generally arranged chronologically.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Permanent Loan : Glasgow University Union : 1976 (DC 38 only)

Additional deposit : Glasgow University Union : 1982 : ACCN 0457 (DC 38 only)

Additional deposit : Glasgow University Dialectic Society : 1983 : ACCN 1983 (DC 38 only)

Deposit : ACCN 2245 (MS Gen 1307-1310 only)

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom (DC 038 only)

Item level descriptions of MS Gen 1307-1310 can be found on the Glasgow University Library Special Collections Manuscripts database

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

Received directly from creator. GB 248 DC 38 material was formally catalogued as part of the Glasgow University Inventory (GUA) series.


Accruals possible

Related Material

See source list on University clubs and societies available via the Glasgow University Archive Services homepage at

Material in other repositories: no material associated by provenance


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

Revised by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 6 September 2002

Geographical Names