Records of Queen Margaret College, Glasgow, 1883-1935, higher education institution, Glasgow, Scotland

Scope and Content

Records of Glasgow Association of Higher Education for Women:  

  • Minute books 1877-1883;
  • Prospectuses and annual reports 1877-1883;
  • Financial records 1877-1891;
  • Letterbooks and correspondence 1878-1883;
  • Roll and class books 1877-1886;
  • Endowment Fund Scheme 1880-1883;
  • Teaching, examination and bursary records 1877-1883;
  • Northern United Registry for Governesses records 1880-1897;
  • Parliamentary bill 1874;
  • Correspondence with Glasgow University 1883;
  • Notes on the Association 1877.

Records of Queen Margaret College:  

  • Council and committee meeting minutes 1883-1904, 1935;
  • Committee reports 1883-1891;
  • Annual reports 1885-1893;
  • Correspondence and reports concerning the establishment of Queen Margaret College and affiliation to the University of Glasgow 1883-1908, 1924;
  • Financial records 1896-1891;
  • Letterbooks and correspondence 1883-1935;
  • Matriculation records 1883-1935;
  • Teaching, examination and prize records 1884-1912;
  • Queen Margaret College School of Medicine records 1886-1929;
  • Graduate and career records 1894-1939;
  • War Work for Women records 1915-1916;
  • Non-teaching staff records 1888-1935;
  • Property records 1885-1938;
  • Bazaar/Endowment Fund records 1888-1892;
  • Records of student societies 1884-1953;
  • Founders day records 1907-1923;
  • Royal visit records 1888-1890;
  • Janet Galloway Memorial records 1909-1925;
  • Presscuttings 1884-1935;
  • Historical notes 1885-1948, 1955, 1979;
  • Photographs 1890s-1930s;
  • Pamphlets on Higher Education of Women 1835-1949.

Administrative / Biographical History

Queen Margaret College, Glasgow , Scotland, was established in  1883  through the incorporation of the  Glasgow Association for the Higher Education of Women . The Association was formed in  1877  as a formal outcome of the 'lectures for ladies' first organised by Mrs Campbell of Tullichewan in  1868  . The lectures were delivered by professors of the  University of Glasgow , initially in Natural History, Moral Philosophy and English Literature within the University and the Glasgow Corporation Galleries. These lectures continued until 1877 when, in April of that year, the Glasgow Association for the Higher Education of Women was founded with a view to offer to women opportunities of study and general culture, as well as to prepare girls for teaching and other professions. John Caird, Principal of Glasgow University, was its first chairman, the Princess Louise, Marchioness of Lorne, president and Mrs Campbell of Tullichewan and Mrs Jane Scott, wife of Glasgow merchant James Scott, as vice-presidents.

The Association organised a University Higher Local Certificate for Women aimed at establishing standards for women which would prove acceptable to Glasgow University. It offered teaching as near as possible to that given to men in the Arts Faculty of the University, with lectures given in University classrooms although the Association also rented an office, classroom and reading-room in St Andrew's Hall at Charring Cross, Glasgow.

In  1883  , the Association was incorporated under the Companies Act as Queen Margaret College, for the education exclusively of women. The College was named after the eleventh century Queen of Malcolm Canmore who was credited with bringing education and culture to Scotland. It was the only college for women in Scotland and was governed by a council of 21 members, 2 of whom were appointed by the Senate of Glasgow University. The classes were organised on University lines and the subjects for the MA degree were taught and examined although degrees were not then open to women. However, three students were soon awarded with degrees but these were with held as the College had no authority to issue them. It was not until the Universities (Scotland) Act  1889  that women were permitted to graduate.

The College required premises and was presented in 1883 with North Park House on Queen Margaret Drive, Glasgow, by Isabella Elder, the wife of the shipbuilder John Elder. In 1888, the building was altered to provide laboratories for science teaching. By 1890, the number of students attending the college was about 200 with another 400 engaged in correspondence classes.

Queen Margaret College opened its own medical school in  1890.  The dissecting room was in the old basement kitchens of North Park House and the anatomy lecture room a small apartment adjoining but the School was equipped with a complete staff. The students attended the Glasgow Royal Infirmary and the Maternity and Sick Children's Hospitals. The students studied to obtain licenses to practice medicine from the Triple Qualification Board of the Colleges of Physicians & Surgeons in Scotland and the Universities of London and Dublin. In its first year 13 students matriculated increasing to 27 in the second. A new medical school building designed by architects John Keppie and Charles Rennie Mackintosh was opened in 1895.

The College throughout its history continually petitioned Parliament to allow women equal entry into universities. Eventually, in  1892  , the Scottish Universities Commissioners issued an ordinance empowering Scottish Universities to make provision for the instruction and graduation of women, either by having separate classes for them or admitting them to existing classes. The College joined with the University of Glasgow in 1892 with the University assuming responsibility for the administration, staffing and maintenance of the College.

In October 1892, Queen Margaret College medical students took their first examination at the University and one woman received the highest marks of the year in Chemistry. The medical classes in the College had been so arranged that attendance at them qualified the students to take the University examinations when the medical degrees were open to women. In June 1894, Marion Gilchrist and Lily Cumming passed their finals having taken their 4 professional examinations in 21 months. They were the first women to receive a medical degree from a Scottish University and the first to females to receive degrees from the University of Glasgow. The first female arts graduate received her degree in 1895.

For the first few years of the amalgamation there was little change to be seen but gradually more and more classes were held at the University. Initially, these were new classes founded after the amalgamation, such as History and Education and the new Honours classes. Hoever, More women were matriculating than before with the number trebling between 1893 and 1905 reaching over 600 students in 1909 and 1,708 in 1929. Larger classes had to be transferred to the University but the 15 minute walk between the institutions also disrupted the time tabling. The College building could no longer cope with the number of students and the women themselves were keen to be treated equally and to end segregated education. Eventually, few female students had classes at the College although administration of women's affairs, enrolment and matriculation continued there until  1934  , and in the following year the College buildings and grounds were sold to the BBC.

J D Mackie,The University of Glasgow, 1451-1951: A Short History ( Glasgow : Jackson  , 1954  )


This material is arranged into two sections: the records relating to the Association of Higher Education for Women and Queen Margaret College. Within these sections the 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

Open subject to restriction to protect personal confidentiality

Acquisition Information

The University of Glasgow

Other Finding Aids

Digital file level list available in searchroom

Manual file level list available at the National Registers of Archives in Edinburgh (NRA(S) 3347) and London (NRA 35509)

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

Retained in the custody of Queen Margaret College, Glasgow and then the University of Glasgow. Previously catalogued as part of the GUA Inventory.


None expected

Related Material

GB 248 GUA Records of the University of Glasgow

GB 248 DC 233/2/13 Records of Queen Margaret Hall Ltd

GB 248 DC 22 Records of Queen Margaret Settlement

GB 248 DC 240 Records of Queen Margaret Union


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

Revised by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 15 October 2002; Emma Yan, Assistant Archivist (Cataloguing), 1 November 2007

Geographical Names