The collection comprises the illustrated personal diaries of Thomas Cairns Livingstone for the period 1913 - 1933. The regular or common content of his daily entries includes what time he awoke and when he went to sleep; family visits; morning and evening temperature; the weather; quotations; the anniversary of personal events; family illnesses; chores; visits to the library and the cinema as well as the walks he took. The earlier diaries also include the yearly visitor tally and brief accounts.
In keeping a diary, he was following a tradition which was begun by his paternal grandfather and continued by his own father: Not every entry is illustrated and the coloured illustrations only continue until the early 1920s. Thereafter, they are pen and ink drawings.
The diaries are particularly significant in providing a perspective of life on the homefront of Glasgow during the First World War (1914 - 1918). Common wartime subjects include the rationing of food and other provisions; increasing prices and rents; the employment of females in previously male-only occupations; fundraising initiatives by various organisations for various causes and the threat of air attack. He dedicates the bottom portion of each daily entry to war news: loss of life and casualities; notable gains and losses and the addition or withdrawal of countries to and from the conflict. These details were largely supplied by the newspapers he read.
The diaries are also a record of family life for the Livingstones. His son begins the diaries as a toddler and ends them as a student at the University of Glasgow. He is a gifted scholar who excelled in his classes at Victoria School, Strathbungo Secondary School and Pollokshields Secondary School. The family also benefitted from changing technology: they installed a wireless set in their home and attended films with sound towards the end of the diaries.
The diaries come to a close as the effects of the Great Depression begin to be felt in Scotland. As Thomas works longer hours for a reduced salary, he no longer has time to write his daily entries.
[Sources: the diaries of Thomas Cairns Livingstone; "Tommy's War: A First World War Diary, 1913 - 1918" (HarperPress: London, 2008) and "Tommy's Peace: A Family Diary, 1919 - 1933" (Mainstream Publishing: London, 2010)]