Category Archives: Europe

Japan and the University of Glasgow during the early 20th century

Glasgow University's Great War Project

By Eriko Ueno, MLitt History of Art postgraduate student, University of Glasgow

The first consultation between Ito Hirobumi (later to become the first Prime Minister of Japan) and William John Macquorn Rankine (then Regius Chair of Civil Engineering and Mechanics at the University of Glasgow) took place during the early period of Japan’s Meiji restoration; and this meeting marked the beginning of the fruitful relationship between Japan and the University of Glasgow, particularly in the field of engineering science. Ever since the 1870s, many Japanese students obtained their expertise at the University and later contributed to their home country’s rapid modernization.[1] As part of my Club 21 internship with Glasgow University’s Great War Project in the University of Glasgow Archives, I have come to discover that this flourishing relationship kept alive around the time of the First World War, too. In 1914, Japan allied itself with Britain…

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A Third Visit from Lebanon

Post by Rachael Egan:

Today we welcomed a third visit from Lebanon Evangelical School in Tyre. Ten students from Grade 10A came to visit Special Collections at the University of Glasgow Library and discover the links their school, and Lebanon in general, has with the University.IMG_0835

Their school was founded in 1860 by the wife of Glasgow graduate, James Bowen Thompson (MD CM 1836). Thompson had entered service with the Syrian Medical Aid Association in 1844. In his post as Chief Medical Officer in Damascus, he met and married Elizabeth Maria Lloyd, who set up the first schools for girls from around the region of Syrian Antioch (Turkey) and in to modern day Lebanon. The students viewed James Bowen Thompson’s signature in the Graduation Album of Higher Degrees in Medicine 1817-1883 (GUAS Ref: R1/5/1).

We also explored some further links between Glasgow and Lebanon as seen on the International Story web-pages.

One of the earliest Lebanon-born students at the University, for example, was Munib Emir El Ghurayib.  He enrolled at the University one hundred years ago, in 1915, for two years to study an Arts course, and went on to teach Arabic at Kingsmead, Birmingham, a training institution of the Friends’ Foreign Mission Association.

Mrs Bowen Thompson from 'Sunrise in Syria'

Mrs Bowen Thompson from ‘Sunrise in Syria’

We also shared the story of Lydia Ida Huber Torrance Allen (née Torrance). She graduated MB ChB from the University in 1918 and MD in 1923 and was a very successful student, winning many prizes and graduating with a Commendation for both degrees. Although born in Tiberias, modern day Israel, where her father, David Watt Torrance, a physician, had established a missionary hospital, Lydia received her early education in Beirut. Perhaps at one of schools established by Elizabeth Bowen-Thompson, who was the first to establish schools for females in the region.

Andrea from the School also brought us along a lovely volume called ‘Sunrise in Syria’ that included information about and a picture of Mrs Bowen Thompson.

Thanks to Caitlin Jukes, PhD student of Microbiology currently working on a project within Special Collections, who helped organise and present the records and thanks to Andrea Smith who contacted us from the School and also brought us along the lovely book to see!

Find out about previous visits from the Lebanon Evangelical School here.

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Bruno Touschek, a pioneering physicist

Bruno Touschek, born in Vienna in 1921, was a Glasgow graduate and lecturer in Natural Philosophy from 1949 to 1952 who invented the storage ring for high-energy elementary particles.

Forced to leave the University of Vienna in 1940, he continued his studies at Hamburg, where he worked with Rolf Wideroe on the development of the Betatron, the first circular accelerator for electrons. They were already discussing the possibility of colliding stored electrons and positrons head-on. His work was disrupted by his arrest by the Gestapo in 1945 and subsequent forced march to Kiel. He survived and graduated from Gottingen in 1946.

Touschek became a DSIR fellow at the University in 1947 and began research for a PhD which was published in 1949. He then became a lecturer in Natural Philosophy and he continued to develop his work on accelerators. He left the University in 1952 and became a researcher at the National laboratories of the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare in Frascati and a lecturer at the University of Rome-La Sapienza. He died in 1978.

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International Story GRAB lunch

Today was the opportunity to give the wider University community an overview of the International Story so far at a special GRAB (Global Regional Activity Briefing) lunch.

The International Story in collaboration with the International Heritage project (covering Special Collections and The Hunterian) usually supports these GRAB lunches with pop-up displays relating to the particular region in focus, from the Americas and South East Asia to China and India.

However, this time it was the turn of the International Story and the University’s Unique Collections that was the focus, which drew staff attention to the extensive range of international stories held in the Archives and Collections. With an introduction from Jim Conroy, Vice-Principal Internationalisation and Lesley Richmond, Deputy Director of University Library and University Archivist, the programme of events was jammed packed and included the following presentations

  • The University of Glasgow’s International Story so far
  • Discovering the International Stories  (Edith Halvarsson and Sophia Yu, Club 21 International Project Placement Students)
  • What’s available to promote the University? – Bespoke gifts available from the University Shop (Matthew Williams, University Shop Manager)
  • The University’s Scottish Business Archive – an unrivalled collection of renown Scottish business innovations and connections around the world (Kiara King, Assistant Archivist, Business Collections)
  • The University’s Archivesauthenticating the University’s International links (Moira Rankin, Head of Archive Services).

The pop-up display was included items from Special Collections (Samantha Gilchrist), Archives (Kiara King) and the Hunterian (Nicky Reeves)

We hope that this overview of the project has shown how the University’s Collections can be employed to great effect. This resource has proved itself as a valuable resource, able to provide University-wide support, be it in international engagement and networking, or student engagement.

We would urge you to discover how the extensive range of international stories held in Archives and Collections can help you make connections. Contact us:

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The German Class of 1890

Following on from Germany’s World Cup win, we thought it was an opportune time to write about the unusual German Class of 1890.

Not until 1887 was a part-time lectureship in Modern Languages first established at the University, and it was Dr Ernst Elster who received the appointment as lecturer of German Language and Literature (GUA21932, 27 Nov 1886 Letter from Dr Emile Elster to Professor Young applying to be allowed to give lectures in German language and literature).

Elster went on to appointments as Professor of German Literature in the universities of Leipzig and Marburg, and was followed in post by Dr Hermann Georg Fiedler, in 1889, (later Professor of German at Oxford University); and in 1890 by Dr Alexander Tille.

It was the German Literature course given during the academic sessions of 1889 and 1890 that attracted the most attention as around 15 German students matriculated for the class. They were

  • Letter from Emile Elster to Prof Young, 27 Nov 1886 (GUA21932)

    Letter from Emile Elster to Prof Young, 27 Nov 1886 (GUA21932)

    Johann Nicolaus Kiep

  • Ernst Alfred Schmidt
  • Samuel Ernst George Von Schulze
  • Simonis
  • Forss Rottenburg
  • Paul Rottenburg
  • Koppern
  • Heinrich Eberhard
  • Max Tuch
  • August Hafter
  • Adolf R Hertwig
  • Alfred Himi
  • Carl Schneider
  • Vockel
  • Walter Arend

As the information they provided on their matriculation slips is sparse, it could suggest that all were residents of and working in Glasgow at the time, like Johann Nicolaus Kiep,  who was serving as Imperial Consul at Glasgow at the time of his matriculation and had extended family connections in the Glasgow area.

Interest in the teaching of Modern Languages as a legitimate subject-area of study in British universities wasn’t developed late in the nineteenth-century and with an amount of opposition, as student Editor Carol Hunter noted in her blog post on the first appointee to the Lectureship of French Language and Literature at the University of Glasgow in 1895, Alfred Mercier. So this German class of 1890 shows to a great extent that the introduction of teaching of Modern Languages at University was actively supported by diverse members of the local community who were eager to foster international understanding and relationships through education.


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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

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Maintaining shipbuilding links through archives

A visit from Vestfoldarkivet, the only professional archive institution in Vestfold, Norway, again highlights the international draw of Glasgow’s shipbuilding history – as well as the draw of the University’s Archive Services.

With collections related to shipping and a project to catalogue the archive created by Framnes shipyard in Sandefjord, Vestfoldarkivet embarked on a field trip of archives in the UK with experience in that area. And the University of Glasgow Archive Services were able to pass on their expertise in the preservation of large shipyard collections, and also a few other gems of knowledge about our countries shared connections.

In their blog post,  Vestfoldarkivet noted one of the links very close to home: The company N. Bugge, whose archives are held by Vestfoldarkivet, had their ships built at Lithgow Ltd.,  held at Glasgow Archive Services.

It is also a coincidence that the earliest student from Norway at the University of Glasgow that we have so far been able to establish was from Vestfold. Hans Blom Olsen, who matriculated in 1880 aged 26 to study Senior Engineering, was born in Larvik, a town in the county of Vestfold.

More interesting links between the University and its links with Norway have still to be uncovered, so please get in touch if you have anything to add to our story.

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