Records of University College, Dundee, being the University of St Andrews in Dundee.

Scope and Content

This is a relatively small accumulation of material which is held alongside the records of other component colleges of the University of St Andrews.

Administrative / Biographical History

There was a growing insistence in the 1870s among Dundee's elite that the city both needed and was worthy of an institution of higher education. Early suggestions as to its form included an Institute of Adult Education run by the University of St Andrews or a University School of Medicine. The first proposal for a Dundee college was made in 1874, the market was tested by university extension lectures from St Andrews in 1875-6 and a Royal Commission report of 1878 recommended the establishment of a college affiliated to St Andrews University.

The final form of the college was determined by a deed of endowment of Miss Mary Ann Baxter of Balgavies and John Boyd Baxter of December 1881, by which a founding donation of 125,000 was pledged. University College, Dundee opened on 5 October 1883. Students were allowed to matriculate at St Andrews from 1885. The College was affiliated and partially incorporated into the University of St Andrews in 1897. In 1953 the teachers and students of all parts of the University in Dundee were formed into a society subsequently designated Queen's College. In 1967, in terms of a Royal Charter, Queen's College became the University of Dundee.

The college was originally housed in four town houses off Perth Road, converted in 1882. The first engineering laboratory and the Carnelly building opened in 1883 and the old Technical Institute in 1888. The Old Medical building was opened in 1904 on the site of the Free Kirk which had been converted as the first College hall in 1883. The campus gradually expanded north and west of the original site between Airlie Place and Park Place and up Smalls Wynd and Lane to Hawkhill. A large new block was built for the Conjoint Medical School on the northern edge of the university site in 1902-4. Ellenbank and Union Mount to the west of the original site were converted to university use in 1904-5 and the adjacent Engineering wing, Peters Laboratory and Carnegie building were opened around the Geddes Quadrangle in 1909. 1918 saw the opening of the Dental School and Hospital which was extended in 1967. The College of Education across Park Place to the east opened in 1920.

The Commission of 1878 recommended a college be established in Dundee to teach mathematical and physical and natural sciences and medicine, leaving the literary part of the Arts faculty to St Andrews. The deed of endowment provided for the erection of a comprehensive 'University College', providing courses for both sexes in a wide variety of subjects except divinity (forbidden by the non-conformist founder) and medicine (which would follow). After 1 October 1897 the college became subject to the academic control of the senate and its teaching staff was appointed by the St Andrews University Court. In an effort to avoid duplication the two Arts chairs (Classics and English) in University College lapsed into lectureships after the professors left in 1895 and 1901 respectively. The other Dundee chairs at this date were Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Engineering, Natural History, Anatomy and Physiology. A chair in Botany in the University replaced the College chair and teaching was in both Dundee and St Andrews. In 1898 the Conjoint School of Medicine was established at Dundee. The chairs of Surgery, Medicine, Midwifery and Gynaecology, Materia Medica and Pathology were established by Ordinance of the Commissioners under the Universities (Scotland) Act of 1889 and the appointments were made by Court. A new chairs of Bacteriology at Dundee was established by Court in 1921 but other appointments, such as Geology and Education were to the university as a whole. In 1899 Dundee began to teach law, thus providing legal instruction within the university for the first time since 1614. The courses in Law were extended to provide a complete curriculum leading to the B.L. degree in 1939. The centre for the training of graduate teachers established in 1900 was associated with a training college from 1905 situated in Dundee. The diploma in Education was introduced in 1919. The Dental hospital and school developed and the diploma and licence in dentistry were augmented with degrees in Dental Surgery from 1938.

The 1881 constitution of the college provided for trustees, governors, council and education board and was modelled on that of a joint-stock company. This structure did not fit into the administration of the wider university and their constitutional relationship became the pivot of the controversy between Dundee and St Andrews which lasted as long as the college was in existence. An important duty assigned to the University Commissioners of 1889 was to affiliate the University College as part of the University of St Andrews with one of the objects being the establishment a fully equipped conjoint University School of Medicine. The University Court under Principal Sir James Donaldson and the Council of the University College under Principal William Peterson reached an agreement to affiliate in 1890 but the practical outworking of this agreement resulted in much wrangling and litigation which reached as far as the House of Lords. The 1890 affiliation was declared invalid in 1895 but an 1896 union by Ordinance was pronounced lawful. The affiliation and partial incorporation of the college in the University of St Andrews was eventually effected on 1 October 1897, despite the efforts of the 3rd Marquis of Bute as Rector of St Andrews (1892-98).

The original Deed of Foundation and Endowment of University College remained in force despite its being at variance to the constitution of the University as a whole. The powers of the Council of University College and the Court of the whole university were contradictory and eventually an appeal was made to the Secretary of State for Scotland to investigate the situation. In 1949 Lord Cooper produced a scheme for a close integration of teaching and administration which, however, failed to secure the necessary support within the University under Principal Sir James Irvine and within University College under General Douglas Wimberley, Principal from 1946. Cooper recommended one academic body exercising the powers of the Senate on each side of the Tay and one financial body exercising the powers of the Court with access to the UGC, on each side of the Tay, and that studies in the two centres should be as far as possible complementary. He also proposed the abolition of the collegiate structure for the whole institution.

However, an inquiry and report was never going to resolve the problems and in 1951 a Royal Commission was appointed under Lord Tedder which declared that Cooper's proposals were impracticable. In 1953 the principal recommendations of the Royal Commission for a radical and complex re-organisation received legislative sanction in the University of St Andrews Act. This Act dissolved the governing bodies of University College and placed its property and endowments in the hands of a reorganised University Court. The teachers and students of all parts of the University in Dundee were formed into a society subsequently designated Queen's College.


The material has been arranged in accordance with a classification scheme imposed since 1961. This creates groups of records which reflect the different areas of activity of the College. Records are generally arranged chronologically within series:

  • UYDC100-199 Privileges, Lands and Buildings:
  • UYDC110 Deed of endowment, 1881 (2 copies)
  • UYDC130 Papers relating to buildings c.1900-c.1939 (from Professor DR Dow, c.1958-59)
  • UYDC200-299 Officers and Staff:
  • UYDC232 Proposed endowment for degrees in commerce - Letter from George Bonar to Principal Herkless, 31 Dec 1918
  • UYDC400-499 Executive Proceedings:
  • UYDC400/1-8 Council minutes, 1913-49 (8 folders)
  • UYDC410 Reports by the Council, 1900-14, 1916, 1919, 1921-37, 1945 (1 box)
  • UYDC500-599 General Administration:
  • UYDC500 Appeal for funds, 1902-03 (from Professor DR Dow, c. 1958-59)
  • UYDC500 Miscellaneous papers c. 1900-52 (from Professor DR Dow, c. 1958-60)
  • UYDC508 Chemistry Chair, 1930 (bundle)
  • UYDC550 Anatomy department:
  • 1. Practical anatomy class register, 1888-1925 (1 vol.)
  • 2. Anatomy departmental expenses, 1888-1904 (1 vol.)
  • 3a. Foundation of chair
  • 3b. Papers relating to microscope
  • UYDC700-799 Miscellaneous:
  • UYDC705 Miscellaneous papers, 1871-1913 (5 folders) which appear to have been assembled by Dr JB Salmond from the Court and Senate archives as material for his projected history of UCD.
  • UYDC705 Newspaper cuttings relating to union with St Andrews University, 1881-1898
  • UYDC800 Creation of Dundee University (2 boxes)
  • To be classified: Balance sheets, 1921-44 (box file); Deed of gift of mace, 1913; The College magazine, 1908-09.

Access Information

By appointment with the Archivist. Access to unpublished records less than 30 years old and other records containing confidential information may be restricted.

Acquisition Information

University of St Andrews.


Description compiled by Rachel Hart, HUB Project Archivist.

Other Finding Aids

Hand list available in Reading Room.

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist.Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 227 procedures.

Custodial History

Retained in the custody of the University of St Andrews.



Related Material

The main bulk of material relating to the college is held within the main run of non-collegiate records of the University of St Andrews at GB 227 UYUY. More material may be found within the archive of the University of Dundee at GB 254.


William Peterson, St Andrews and Dundee: A Retrospect, (Dundee: Council of University College, Dundee, 1893), is a slightly expanded publication of an address to the Dundee Branch of the Educational Institute of Scotland regarding the possible union of the College with the University of St Andrews. W Knight, Early Chapters in the History of the University of St Andrews and Dundee, (Dundee: William Kidd&Sons, 1902). RG Cant, The University of St Andrews, (3rd. ed., St Andrews, 1992) contains a brief description of the relationship between the University of St Andrews and UCD. D Southgate, University Education in Dundee, a Centenary History (Edinburgh, 1982), JSG Blair, History of Medicine in the University of St Andrews, (Edinburgh, 1987).

Additional Information

This material is original, some is printed.

Geographical Names