The main series is made up of a run of glass negatives created from a variety of material including commercial photographs, prints, etchings and printed illustrations. These negatives were used to create a series of positive glass lantern slides which were used to illustrate a variety of lectures and talks. The collection reflects Read's personal interests in the history of chemistry, alchemy, the history of St Andrews, Somerset and Australia and includes topography, people, chemical compounds, diagrams and experiments. There is a small pile of 6 strays from the above sequences.
In addition there are three wooden boxes of glass lantern slides:
- Commercial lantern slides to accompany 'Visit to Cambridge' by MA Cantab, 1889 with text;
- Commercial lantern slides of 'A Tour through New Zealand', some colour, topographical and botanical, undated;
- American Universities, marked 'Principal Sir James Irvine': Cornell (14), Princeton (7), Berkeley (4), Wisconsin (4), Illinois (7) and Michigan (8), all c. 1930.
There is material which pre-dates Read's employment by the University and which was most likely gathered by James Colquhoun Irvine, lecturer and later Professor of Chemisty and Principal of the University. There are good interior views of the chemistry laboratories, building works on what was later named the Irvine Building and views of St Andrews. There are markers for talks given using the slides on topics such as 'Zurich', 'HHC', 'Australia', 'Music/Alchemy', and 'St Andrews'. In addition there is a series of outsize and framed items which are unlisted.