I am very excited to be working on the ‘Evergreen: Patrick Geddes and the Environment in Equilibrium’ project as Project Conservator which runs for 10 months. During my first month on the project I have been getting to grips with the collection which is split over Strathclyde University in Glasgow and Edinburgh University. Whilst looking through the collections I have come across a variety of different media including photograph albums, photographs, glass plate negatives, and transparent paper, loose sheets of correspondence and drawings.
A portrait of Patrick Geddes
The majority of the collection requires rehousing, flattening and minor paper repairs. Tearing of the paper collection has been caused by years of handling and inappropriate storage. To repair them remoistenable tissue with gelatine is being used. This method is being used because of the different types of inks used throughout the collection which are sensitive to moisture. It is also a faster repair method for a larger collection. The rehousing will consist of new archival folders for the collection housed in 180 archival boxes and three different sizes of melinex sleeves for the larger items in plan chests. We also hope to set up a crowdsourcing event to help rehouse the 180 boxes.
Survey Graphic magazine in need of paper repairs
With our this project currently in progress, our eyes and ears are particularly attuned to Patrick Geddes material elsewhere in our collections. It was a delight recently to stumble across a volume entitled Records relating to the Mechanics’ Library and University Hall, Riddle’s Court. We have been working very closely with the Education Officer at the Patrick Geddes Centre, Riddle’s Court, so this is an extra special find at this time.
In the late 1880s, Patrick Geddes acquired Riddle’s Court for the purpose of creating University Hall. Prior to this, it had been in the possession of the Mechanics Library, who had been based there since the mid 1850s.
A volume in our collection contains extracts of records relating to the building’s time as the Mechanics Subscription Library, including the earlier history of the buildings, as well as records of its time as University Hall. As well as text, the volume is peppered liberally with illustrations.
The first residents moved in for the Winter Session of 1889-90. There were only three of them – William Speirs Bruce, Riccardo Stephens and William Grant Burn-Murdoch. All three had a strong connection to Geddes.
Illustration by Louis G Irvine