Author Archives: ugiseditors

About ugiseditors

Ewa Konkolska - Project Poland; Rebecca Rooney - Project Japan; Anna Kayhko - Project Finland; Hanna Kaarina Yoken - Project USA; Heather Gillispie - Project Japan; Alexandre Cenarro - Project Spain; Julia Ericsson - Project Sweden; Anna Karolina Kankaanpaa - Project Norway; Saira Naheem - Project Pakistan; Adhiraj Rathore - Project India; Jakub Rybak - Project Czech Republic; Demi Boyd - Project USA (Nineteenth-century); Cristina Chiran - Project Romania; Susan Gardiner - Project USA (Twentieth-century); Katrin Goundry - Project Germany; Maarja Lall - Project Estonia; Gabrielle Migdalski - Project Poland; Yau Ning Ng - Project Hong Kong; Lertchai Wasananikornkulchai - Project Thailand; Victoria Woolner - Project Canada

US Naval Academy links with Glasgow

The University of Glasgow’s historic links with shipbuilding on the Clyde are clear to see throughout the University campus. The Randolph Hall, for example, is named for Sir Charles Randolph, co-owner of the prestigious Randolph, Elder & Co. shipyard, who left £60,000 to the University to complete the construction of the Bute Hall. Similarly, the University’s School of Naval Architecture was, until 1906, housed in Pearce Lodge, named for another shipwright, Sir William Pearce. Indeed, the Chair of Naval Architecture was endowed by Isabella and John Elder themselves.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Evidently, the University of Glasgow has a rich history of Naval Architecture. The subject flourished in the late 19th century, coinciding with an influx of international students arriving in Glasgow to study at the world-renowned school. Most notable amongst the University’s records are a high number of students from the United States of America, many of whom were graduates of the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. These students of Naval Architecture often went on to fill high ranking positions within the US Navy prior to the First World War.

Washington Lee Capps , for example, became Chief of the Bureau of Construction and Repair, alongside a promotion to Rear-Admiral within two decades of his graduation in 1888. During World War Two, Capps was honoured by the US Navy with the naming of two ships in his honour.

Graduation Signature DSc 1912

Graduation Signature DSc 1912

Similarly, many other University of Glasgow alumni rose to the rank of Rear-Admiral. Richard Morgan Watt, a graduate of the Class of 1892, was awarded the Navy Cross for his role in construction during the First World War, and was also the primary investigator on the enquiry into the sinking of the Titanic. A classmate of Watt, George Henry Rock, also achieved this rank, and was awarded the Navy Cross for his role at the New York Shipyard. Many of the men who studied at the University of Glasgow are now buried in the Arlington National Cemetery in the United States, reflecting their role in serving their nation.

Why then, were so many Americans coming to study in Glasgow in this period?

In answering this question, it is important to consider the reasons that Naval Architecture was so prominent in the 1890s. In this period, the face of Naval Architecture was changing completely. Naval fleets, prior to 1890, were made up of ships which looked nothing like the style of ship we would recognise today as a modern battleships.The HMS Devastation was probably the most powerful ship as late as the mid-1880s, and Glasgow-built ships, such as HMS Campania, had to be completely refitted to serve a new purpose.

HMS Campania, converted Cunard Line ocean liner to seaplane tender and aircraft carrier for WWI

HMS Campania, converted Cunard Line ocean liner to seaplane tender and aircraft carrier for WWI

Given Britain’s rank as perhaps the most powerful naval force in the World, it is unsurprising that its ports, such as Glasgow, were at the forefront of naval innovation and the development of a new class of ship. This was a period in which naval architecture was developing at its fastest ever rate, and nations all over the world were keen to keep up, and Glasgow was the ideal institution at which to study.

Furthermore, it must be remembered that the United States has not always been the military force it is known as today. Indeed, in the 1890s, when these students were studying, the US Navy was insignificant in comparison to its European counterparts – it was, in fact, smaller than that of Belgium. There was a substantial naval element to the US Civil War, with both sides developing significant Naval forces (many ships were constructed in British ports such as Glasgow and Birkenhead), yet by the turn of the century these largely wooden ships were vastly outdated. The US Navy was, at this point, effectively a coastal defence force, unable to take to the seas and challenge for naval superiority.

Alongside this, there were a number of notable military theorists discussing the importance of a Navy in this period. Most notable amongst these was Alfred Mahan, a US Navy Admiral and strategist. In his piece, “The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783”, published in 1890, he theorised that nations with superior navies would have a greater worldwide impact. This concept was hugely influential throughout the world, and in the United States in particular, and this effectively sparked a naval arms race. The United States soon began to realise their need to catch up with their European counterparts, and this must be seen to be integral to the sending of so many men to Glasgow.

The University of Glasgow, then, was at the forefront of Naval Architecture in this period, and the United States needed a more advanced Navy. In this light, it is unsurprising that so many Americans, who would go on to achieve great things as naval constructors, would have studied at the University.

By Hugh Roberts, MA History (who continues to research the Naval Academy students at Glasgow pre WWI).




Filed under North America

Hungarians at the University of Glasgow (1850–1950)

Hungarian students studying at Glasgow created a small, but steady group between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries.

During this period altogether twelve Hungarians could be found in the archival materials of the University, but not all could be researched in accordance with data protection. Due to the peculiarities of 20th century Hungarian history it was not possible to strictly categorize each person with a Hungarian name into the country association of Hungary. After the Trianon peace treaty of 1920, which finally ended World War I, two-thirds of the Kingdom of Hungary was divided among neighbouring countries, such as Romania or Czechoslovakia. To make things even more complicated, prior to and during the Second World War certain detached territories were returned to Hungary. For this reason we associated both Hungary and the given successor state to the people originally from a detached area.

There are certain patterns we can discover when summarising the different fields of study of these Hungarian students. More than half of them (7) came to Glasgow to study Theology. This also has historical reasons. During the early modern Habsburg-era (16th–18th centuries) Protestantism was undesirable and often punishable in Hungary, therefore prospective ministers of the Lutheran and Calvinist Churches had to go to North-Western Europe to study Protestant theology. Peregrination remained an important tradition of Protestant pastor training later on. This is illustrated most picturesquely by the itinerary of Koncz Sándor [Alexander Koncz], who attended such emblematic colleges of the Reformed Church as Sárospatak (Hungary), Basel (Switzerland) and Glasgow. It is the Calvinist foundation which links the Reformed Church of Hungary to its Scottish equivalent, the Church of Scotland. Presbyterianism had such a strong impact on Hungarian students that some of them, like Moody András [Andrew Moody] returned to Hungary as missionaries of the Free Church of Scotland to convert Jews to Christianity or as a result of this mission came to Glasgow and became Presbyterian ministers, like Saphir Adolf Áron [Adolph Aaron Saphir]. Along other novices, namely Gáti Sámuel, Czirjek Mihály, Patay Pál and Puskás Bajkó István, they enrolled to courses on the Old and New Testament, divinity, biblical criticism and church history under Professors such as George Milligan and Henry Reid.

Another characteristic, but much smaller group of Hungarians (3), studied Medical and Veterinary Sciences at Glasgow. Education of Medicine also has its fame throughout the world, their scientific discoveries in the subject area of Virology made the predecessor of the current College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences well-known. Most Hungarians, like Bacsich Pál [Paul Bacsich] and Beöthy Konrád [Conrad Beothy] came here to write their doctoral dissertation. The latter, as a forensic medical researcher, had a significant role in the identification of the so called “invisible of Mecsek”, a partisan group resisting the Soviet troops after the tragic 1956 revolution against Hungary’s Soviet occupation.

Finally, we can distinguish a couple of figures, who do not belong to the two major groups described above. Kenedi Róbert Maximilián [Robert Maximilian Kenedi] studied civil engineering and Ullmann István [Stephen Ullmann] studied Semantics and Romance Languages at the University. Although studying completely different subjects, they had a lot in common. Both were fleeing the effects of the Second World War and became British citizens; they acquired their doctoral degrees here and became renowned experts in their respective field of study.

As one can see a large variety of academic fields were covered by Hungarian nationals throughout a century, ranging from Theology to Medicine and from Humanities to Engineering. Hopefully the second century of documented Hungarian presence at Glasgow University holds a similarly colourful and prosperous era for both the University and Hungary and the entire globe!

By László Kövecses, MSc Russian, Central & East European Studies, Hungary, Club21

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

The Italian Job (part 4); Where’s Waldes?

At a glance along the list of birthplaces of people with Italian connections with the University around the turn of the 20th century, one small town kept cropping up – Torre Pellice, just outside of Turin. Being quite remote and high-up in the Alps, it seemed intriguing that anyone was traveling from there at this time. Perhaps Carlo Buffa and Alberto Billour, who enrolled in 1890 and 1893 respectively, already had Scottish links? But they only stayed for a year. During their time in Glasgow they also both lived at 2 Sutherland Terrace. It all just seemed too neat to be a coincidence.

Archivio Fotografico Valdese

Torre Pellice I soon learned was and still is the epicenter of the Waldensian Church. The Waldensians are a relatively small Protestant sect that developed in the 12th century in Southern France. The movement is said to have been founded by Peter Valdes (Waldo, Valdo, or Waldes), who sought to follow the example of Jesus and the Apostles by adopting a life of preaching and poverty. Valdes’ followers were actively persecuted by the Catholic Church which drove them out of France. They eventually settled in the mountains of the region of Piedmont. Persecuted for their Protestant principles for centuries, it was not until 1848 that the Waldensians were granted religious freedom by King Charles Albert of Piedmont-Sardinia.

The Waldensian community founded a School of Theology at their headquarters of Torre Pellice in 1855. Part of the training to become a Waldensian minister was a compulsory year abroad – ‘l’anno di perfezionamento’ – at a University of their choice. The Waldensian community had had a connection with Britain as early as 1825. The Anglican Church and Scottish Presbyterians founded a support committee in order to help visiting pastors and students when undertaking their foreign exchange. It seems that it was quite common for these theology students to come to Scotland in particular; in fact, Carlo Buffa’s brother Giovanni spent his year at the University of Edinburgh from 1881-2.

Alberto Billour spent his year at the University of Glasgow studying English, presumably in order to better his grasp of the language before embarking on his missionary journey to North America; while Buffa studied Moral Philosophy under Professor Edward Caird and is thought to have founded a school for the children of Italian immigrants in Glasgow.

Both Billour and Buffa went on to join Waldensian communities in Canada and the US. Perhaps travelling there on the SS Waldensian (built in 1861 by Barclay, Curle & Co. Ltd. of Glasgow), which sailed from Glasgow to Canada during the 1880s.

Buffa was invited first to Monnett, Missouri by Pastor Giovanni Pietro Salomon, then later he traveled to Montreal in Canada. Billour instead journeyed to towns in Pennsylvania and Illinois helping build grassroot Waldensian movements. Neither Buffa nor Billour remained in America but they were integral to the creation and growth of communities of Waldensians that exist to this day and who take pride in their Italian heritage.

By Olivia Tolaini, MA History


Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

The Italian Job part 3: The Legend of Baglietto

From my earlier blog story, ‘The Call of the Clyde’, I found that, unsurprisingly, the University at the turn of the 20th century boasted a wealth of talent in the Naval Engineering world. From my detective work at the archive looking into the University’s Italian connections, I found one student who deserves more particular attention, Vincenzo Vittorio Baglietto.

Resisting the temptation to Google his name straight away, I began at the beginning – the archive materials:

Baglietto, Students of Engineering & Naval Architecture photo 1919-1920

Baglietto, Students of Engineering & Naval Architecture photo 1913-1914 (ACCN173/11/7/1a)

After matriculating in 1911 to study Naval Architecture, Baglietto went on to take a whole range of classes in Engineering and the Sciences.

In 1915 he vanished from the class list. As was common at the time, First World War service interrupted many students’ course of study, including that of Baglietto who appears to have joined the Italian Air Force.

JA de Zencovich, Engineering & Naval Architecture Students 1919-20

He returned again to the University after the War in 1918, and appears in the ‘senior students of Engineering and Naval Architecture session 1919-1920’ photo along with fellow Italian, Joseph Andrew de Zencovich. Eventually Baglietto graduated BSc in Naval Engineering in 1921, and then returned to his birthplace of Varazze in Italy to work for a local shipyard.

After exhausting the paper trail in the archive, I thought I’d give Google a shot. I had a sudden jolt of excitement as hundreds of results returned with ‘Baglietto Yachts for Sale’, ‘Super-yachts’ to be more exact. Being completely foreign to the boating world I was unaware that the Baglietto name was to yachts what Rolls-Royce is to cars. Synonymous with speed, design and luxury, Baglietto is practically a household name in the story of pleasure boats.

The Baglietto Cantiere was originally built by Vincenzo’s father Pietro Baglietto in 1854. He transformed what was a vegetable garden on the shore of Varazze into a thriving yacht business. By 1890 Pietro was being commissioned to build boats for the famous Italian poet Gabrielle D’Annunzio and even Pope Leo XIII. By the time of his death in 1911 Pietro Baglietto had placed his firm at the forefront of the pleasure boat industry in Italy.

Vincenzo and his brothers took over the business after his father’s death. Perhaps it was the loss of his father that persuaded Vincenzo to study at the University, which was at the forefront of naval architecture. He remained an active partner in the firm whilst he was still in Glasgow, designing vessels before even graduating.  After completing his studies he returned to Varazze leading his family’s company to even greater success. In 1929 he built ‘La Spina’, the first Italian 12 metre yacht.

Source: Baglietto Archive

Source: Baglietto Archive

During the First and Second World Wars the Cantiere was also heavily involved in supplying the Italian Navy with military vessels. Vincenzo designed anti-submarine motor boats (MAS), which were built with a step hull. The MAS were used throughout the world even by the Japanese, Finnish, French and Swedish Navies.

His attentions quickly returned however to building leisure boats, pioneering new technology and competing in International yacht races throughout the 1950s and 60s. Vincenzo Baglietto sadly died in 1978 but his family name and yachting prowess lives on.

It was so rewarding tracing Vincenzo Baglietto’s story and knowing that his time at the University of Glasgow was doubtless an integral part of his continued success in his career.

By Olivia Tolaini, MA History




Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

The Italian Job, part 2; The Call of the Clyde

Having been assigned the task of looking into the University’s Italian connection during the period of 1890-1920, it didn’t take long before a pattern emerged amongst the students. They were largely young men who’d chosen to study Engineering, more specifically Naval Architecture. At the forefront of the shipping industry, the Clyde was producing a third of the world’s total shipping output by 1900, rightly deserving its title as ‘The Workshop of the Empire’.

Throughout the 1800s Glasgow was a lodestar of technological innovation: The first steam engine was built by a Scottish engineer, Henry Bell, in 1812, and it was on the Clyde in the late 1870s that the first steel ships were being built, replacing wrought iron in creating lighter more efficient vessels. Shipbuilding was becoming more of a science than an art. Naval Architects needed mathematical training in order to calculate a ship’s stability and boiler pressures and have basic understanding of Chemistry and Physics so that they could test iron and steel for the hulls.

Fregoso patent 1912On student I researched, Severo Campo Fregoso, studied a Naval Architecture course at the University in 1910 and went on to file several patents in the advancement of mechanical engineering for use in transport vehicles. During WWI, there was a report in Flight magazine of January 1917, citing a Severo Campo Fregoso and two others, who were charged for “collecting and recording information about certain aircraft likely to be useful to the enemy”. Although further research would have to be done to establish whether this was in fact the same Severo Campo Fregoso, it is nevertheless interesting to note that students in and around this period inevitably took part in active service during the First World War.

In fact, my next blog post will be about a prominent Italian student whose studies were interrupted by his War service in Italy.

By Olivia Tolaini, MA History

Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

The Italian Job (part 1)

Our Club21 volunteer, Olivia Tolaini, chose to research Italian student students at the turn of the 20th century. In a four-part blog series, Olivia considers her own family’s immigration to the UK, how Italian immigration has been experienced in Scotland, and features a few of her findings on Italian students from the University of Glasgow’s archives.

To me, walking down Byres road often feels like I’m in Glasgow’s very own ‘Little Italy’. In fact, the Italian café and ice-cream parlor have become such features of Scottish culture that I imagine it’s easy to overlook the longstanding connections between the two. My journey delving into the University’s archive into the lives of Italian students at the turn of the 20th century has uncovered very different experiences to the usual stories of ice creams and fish suppers. Having Italian parentage myself, perhaps I was looking for immigrant experiences that resembled those of my Grandparents’. What emerged instead was a parallel narrative of Italian immigrants and visiting students.

My grandfatherArriving in London in the 1950s, my Grandparents, like many other Italian immigrants to Scotland, found work in the service industry. There was often a lot of hostility and solidarity amongst the local trade unions and craft societies towards Italian immigrants, forcing them to find employment in something distinctive and non-competitive. My Grandfather had trained as a carpenter in Italy eventually he had to follow the well-established tradition of working as a chef in an Italian restaurant. My gradmotherMy Grandmother worked as a seamstress for lots of different fashion houses, ultimately working for the designer Norman Hartnell. Yet, in order to remain in Britain, she had to officially declare that she was working as a domestic servant. Before I familiarized myself with each individual’s story it was quite difficult for me to imagine different lives for them.

Since the 1880s, Glasgow has witnessed large waves of Italian immigrants, mostly from Northern and Central regions of Italy. I noted that the majority of the visiting students fit this same pattern. Many of the earliest migrants actually walked the long and arduous trip to Scotland. For some, Glasgow was merely a stop-over on their journey to America, whereas others chose to stay and exploit the fabled Scottish ‘sweet tooth’. Initially these migrants were selling ice cream out of wheelbarrows along the streets of Glasgow, but many quickly acquired premises of their own. By 1905, there were over 300 cafés and chippies owned by Italian families.

Giannetti’s Fish Restaurant c.1900,

Giannetti’s Fish Restaurant c.1900,

Businesses and communities grew and grew as they sent word back to their families in Italy of the great opportunities in Glasgow of employment and education, which sparked off a phenomenon of chain migration. Whole villages and districts in Northern Italy have particular connections to Glasgow. The small town of Barga for example bizarrely boasts the annual ‘Sagra Delle Pesce e Patate’ (The Fish and Chip Festival), as die-hard Celtic fans as any you’d find in Parkhead, and the musical talents of Paolo Nutini. One of the students I researched, Giuseppe Brucciani, also came over from Barga in 1909.

Trawling through the archive records and the depths of the internet I came across a very varied group of individuals from all over Italy whose lives all took very different paths. Many of them chose to study specialised subjects such as Naval Architecture and Engineering. The majority of them actually returned to Italy after their time at the University. Perhaps they had always intended to go back but maybe they, like my Grandparents, encountered quite a closed system of employment. One engineering student, Pasquale Infante, was refused membership to the UK Mechanical Engineers Association, although on what ground is uncertain.

I became very fond of all of them and of my ritual of going to the archive. I like to imagine that the students I traced found their own ‘Little Italy’. Studying abroad at the turn of the century would have been a very different prospect to what it is now – a lot more daunting I imagine – but with a local Italian café where they could get themselves a proper Italian Cappuccino I’m sure it made them feel more at home. More research into the Italian immigration in Scotland is also being carried out by the University of Edinburgh at The Italo-Scottish Research Cluster , however my series of blog posts will concentrate on students of Glasgow.

I’m very grateful to Kerry McDonald and all the staff at the Archive for all of their help and support and I hope that reading each of these students stories gives as much enjoyment as I had researching them.

By Olivia Tolaini, MA History



Leave a comment

Filed under Europe

Irish Students at Glasgow in the Early Twentieth Century

In a break from Baton Relay posts, Club21 volunteer, James Bell, tells us of his project that combined the International Story with the period around the First World War:

When I started this project I decided to concentrate on Irish students who studied medicine in the early part of the twentieth century, with special focus on the years around the First World War. This was interesting to me because I am from Northern Ireland and wanted to find out more about the students who studied in Glasgow before me. I also wanted to explore why so many of the students from Ireland decided to study medicine and what impact the First World War had on their lives.

There is a strong historical link between Ireland and Scotland. In 1609 the first lowland Scots arrived as part of the Plantation of Ulster and migration continued sporadically over the rest of the century despite intermittent war. After a major influx in the 1690s because of a famine in Scotland, Scots became the dominant population in the province of Ulster. Because of the Irish Potato Famine in the mid nineteenth century migration began to take place in reverse with many people settling on the west coast of Scotland. This had an important impact on the language and culture of the region and created a strong sense of community between the north of Ireland and Scotland. The University’s archives overseas database as well as my own research reflects this; I found out that the vast majority of Irish students around the turn of the twentieth century came from the counties of Ulster.

This closer relationship also lead to stronger educational ties. For the sons and (later) daughters of wealthy Irish families Scotland became the obvious place for them to receive an education. This is due in part to the cultural affiliation that many Irish people felt towards Scotland, but can also be explained by the Scottish Enlightenment in the eighteenth century. Based around the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, figures such as Adam Smith, James Boswell, Robert Burns, Thomas Carlyle, David Hume and Sir Walter Scott made great strides in the study of economics, philosophy, the sciences and literature. Scotland was fast becoming a European intellectual powerhouse and presented educational opportunities on a large scale for the first time.

This trend continued into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. But why did so many students choose to study medicine? Based on my own work in the archives I believe that it had a lot to do with the social status of the students’ families. Many of their fathers are listed as farmers or tradesmen: these were professions that would have made a decent living, certainly enough to send their children to university in another part of the country. Sending their children to study medicine, usually with the view that they will return to their hometowns to practice as the local doctor, ensured not only that they could give back to their communities, but also advanced their social positions. Studying medicine seems to have been viewed as a worthwhile investment in the family as well as the local area.

The outbreak of the First World War in 1914 interrupted studies for many students. In the examples I looked at, however, none of the students were affected as conscription was never introduced in Ireland (which was part of the United Kingdom at the time). However two of the students I concentrated on served in the army after graduation: Josiah Stranaghan Harbinson graduated MBChB in 1908 and became a lieutenant in the medical branch;

G H Dundon in Engineering & Naval Architecture 1913-1914 (Accn173/11/7/1b)

G H Dundon, Engineering & Naval Architecture 1913-1914 (Accn173/11/7/1b)

and George Hewitt Dundon graduated BSc in Engineering in 1914 and signed up, joining the 5th Field Company in the Reserve Battalion. He rose to the rank of lieutenant and in 1918 was awarded the Military Cross for  “conspicuous gallantry -and devotion to duty” when repairing a bridge under heavy fire.

These two experiences may be considered typical of Irish citizens who chose to take part in the First World War. Despite the political affiliations that characterise modern Ireland, both nationalists and unionists generally supported the war effort, with 200,000 fighting over the course of four years. The war did not interrupt studies as much as I had previously believed, but the extent to which students voluntarily enlisted after graduating underlines the historically close relationship between the people of Ulster and Scotland.

Scotland in general and Glasgow in particular has therefore had an important role to play both culturally and educationally in Ireland. In many ways, the impact of these historical ties are still being felt today. The story of Ireland’s link to Glasgow is still being written- please get in contact if you can contribute anything.

James Bell, MSc Russian, Central and East European Studies.

Leave a comment

Filed under Commonwealth of Nations, Europe