Records of Glasgow University Union, student union, University of Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

  • Constitution 1891-1979
  • Minutes of board/committee of management 1885-1969
  • Minutes of library committee 1890-1950
  • Minutes of general meetings 1928-1952
  • Financial records 1885-1988
  • Debating records 1889-1979
  • GUU diaries 1924-1969
  • GUU handbook 1980
  • Correspondence 1947-1982
  • Administrative papers 1925-1988
  • Programmes and menus 1895-1985
  • Photographs of committee groups and buildings 1889-1990
  • Architectural plans [20th century]
  • Posters 1937, 1942

Administrative / Biographical History

Glasgow University Union was founded at the University of Glasgow , Scotland, in 1885  following a meeting of representatives from the main University societies, namely the Glasgow University Athletic Club , Glasgow University Dialectic Society and Glasgow University Medico-Chirurgical Society . The Union was established as a voluntary club and men's union for 'the purpose of promoting social intercourse among the students, past and present, of the University, and of acting as a central body representing students' interests, and especially for making adequate provision for the accommodation of the various College Societies'. From 1890-1930,  it was housed in the John MacIntyre building on University Avenue, Glasgow, the first purpose-built home for the Union designed by architect John J Burnet. Dr John MacIntyre, who attended classes in Glasgow but was not a graduate of the University, generously donated å£5000 for its construction in memory of his wife. The building was 1895 and 1908.

In 1930,  the Union moved premises to a new building at the corner of the junction of University Avenue, Kelvin Way and Great George Street, Glasgow. This building remains as the principal home of the Union although the buildings have been extended to cater for the increase in the number of students at the University and therefore members of the Union.

Despite women being admitted to study at the University in 1892  , the Union was for ninety-five years an all male preserve which did not admit women.

In 1977, a campus-wide referendum was held on the proposal that the two single sex Unions, the GUU (male) and the Queen Margaret Union (female) should amalgamate, but the students voted against it by a reasonable margin. Two years later, in 1979, the members of the QMU voted to accept men as members and the very next year, 1980, the University forced the GUU's hand by threatening to withdraw its funding unless it too became mixed. So, at the subsequent special general meeting the members of the GUU voted to accept women as members. Thus ended the GUU's unique status as the last "all-male" Union in Britain and the University's potential breach of the Sex Discrimination Act.

In 2002, the Union was managed by a board of management consisting of 26 people, 19 of whom were student members. The other 7 are life members with strong links to the Union. The executive, who form part of the board of management consists of a president, secretary and assistant secretary. There are also convenors for entertainment, the Union's library, games and debates. These positions are all held by students who are elected by the Union membership on an annual basis.

The Union acts as a meeting place for students and is one centre of social activity on the University campus. It has a major reputation for debating and has sent teams around the world to take part in debating tournaments.


This material is arranged into series, which consist of numbers of items related by format and/or function. Within series, the items are generally arranged chronologically.

Access Information


Other Finding Aids

Printed list and item level computerised list available in searchroom

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S)) and London (NRA)

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

None which affect the use of this material

Conditions Governing Use

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

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

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 0248 procedures

Custodial History

Held by Glasgow University Union


Regular transfers expected

Related Material

GB 248 DC 240 Records of Queen Margaret Union

GB 248 DC 157 Records of Students Representative Council

GB 248 DC 71 Records of Glasgow University Athletic Club

GB 248 DC 38 Records of Glasgow University Dialectic Society

GB 248 DC 373 Records of Glasgow University Medico-Chirurgical Society

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

Location of Originals

This material is original


Gerald Warner,Conquering by Degrees: Glasgow University Union A Centenary History 1885-1985(Glasgow, 1985)

Additional Information

Description compiled in line with the following international standards: International Council on Archives,ISAD(G) Second Edition, September 1999 and National Council on Archives,Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names

Scotland is the location of all place names in the administrative/biographical history element, unless otherwise stated.

Fonds level description compiled by Moira Rankin, Senior Archivist, 07 April 2000.

Revised by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 1 October 2002

Geographical Names