01 May 2012
The project comprises an exhibition and a series of events
A collection of rare material from the Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) archive which sheds light on a unique period of Glasgow’s history has gone on display in the city’s Scotland Street School Museum.
More than forty posters, songbooks, leaflets and books have been loaned to a new project called The Glasgow Schools, which explores the city’s Socialist Sunday and Proletarian Schools, which were secular left-wing alternatives to church Sunday Schools and active in the city from 1896 to 1980.
The project, created by artist Ruth Ewan, comprises an exhibition, a series of events at Scotland Street School Museum and a printed publication. It runs from April 20 to May 6.
Unique items loaned from the university’s ‘Gallacher Memorial Library’ and the ‘Papers of Jane McKay’ collections include a book of proletarian catechisms, the Socialist Sunday School song book and catalogue of minutes, reports and letters related to the schools.
Carole McCallum, GCU’s Research Collection Archivist, said she was “delighted” to lend items to the exhibition.
She added: “We are committed to sharing Glasgow and Scotland’s proud heritage and our active involvement in exhibitions breaks barriers and opens our doors to the local community and beyond. We are keen to show off our ‘treasures’ to the widest possible audience.”
Established in London, the Socialist Sunday School movement’s aims were designed to counter the dominant influences of Liberalism, Conservatism and ultimately Capitalism, thought to be promoted by both church and state schools. Lessons were grounded in ethics, morality and love, borrowing heavily from Christian frameworks, although the schools were secular.
The schools flourished in the early 1900s, with over 150 of them running across the UK in the 1920s. The movement declined during the following decade although some of the Glasgow schools stayed open until 1980, albeit under the new name of the Socialist Fellowship.
The exhibition is accompanied by an events programme of talks and discussion, song, performance and magic from 2pm to 4pm on Sundays throughout the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art which runs until Monday, May 7. These events reflect the cultural curriculum of the Socialist and Proletarian School movement.
Artist Ruth Ewan thanked GCU for opening its collection. She said: “I am delighted to be presenting a unique collection of material from the research collection at Glasgow Caledonian University. This has enabled us to shed light on a forgotten piece of Glasgow’s history.”