The Amalgamated Engineering Union [A.E.U.] was formed on 1 July 1920, by the merger of ten separate unions involved in the engineering industry. Its formation was due mainly to the efforts of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers [A.S.E.], who had actively encouraged such a step since its own inception in 1851. The A.S.E. was originally known under the longer title of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, Machinists, Smiths, Millwrights and Patternmakers [A.S.E.M.S.M.P.]. It was formed through amalgamation of the Journeymen Steam Engine, Machine Makers and Millwrights Friendly Society (often referred to as the "Old Mechanics' " Society, active in most industrial towns by the mid-nineteenth century), the Smiths Benevolent Sick and Burial Society, and several smaller, like-minded societies involved in engineering-related industries.
Since the late 1960s mergers with other unions have led to several name changes for the A.E.U. After joining with the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers in 1968, it became the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers. And after merging with the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians' Association, and the Constructional Engineering Union, in 1970, it became the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers.
Aberdeen Mechanics' Society was founded in the city in 1824. It became part of the A.S.W in 1851, in line with other mechanics' societies in the country at this time.
James Bavington Jeffery's The Story of the Engineers, 1800 - 1945 (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 1946) contains more details about the organisation and its activities. Further information about the development of the trade union movement and the history of individual trade unions in Aberdeen can be found in William Diack, History of the Trades Council and the Trade Union Movement in Aberdeen (Aberdeen: Aberdeen Trades Council, 1939), and in Kenneth D. Buckley, Trade Unionism in Aberdeen 1870 - 1900 (Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd, 1955). Arthur Marsh and Victoria Ryan, Historical Directory of Trade Unions, 4 vols (Aldershot: Gower, 1980 - 1984) also contains useful information about the development of individual unions, at both the national and local level. Summarised details from each of these sources has been used in compiling this collection level description.