Inspirational campaigner Janey Buchan passes away

17 January 2012

Inspirational campaigner Janey Buchan passes away

Nelson Mandela with Janey Buchan in 2001

Former Glasgow MEP and anti-apartheid campaigner Janey Buchan, a long-time donor to Glasgow Caledonian University’s archive and the inspiration for its Centre of Political Song, has died at the aged of 85.

The grandmother and great-grandmother was a Scottish Labour member in Brussels from 1979 to 1994 when she retired.

She was the wife of the late Norman Buchan, who was a Labour MP in Paisley for 26 years until his death in 1990.

The Norman and Janey Buchan collection, with the exception of The Queen's College Special Collection which had been accumulating for several decades, was the first collection to be donated to GCU and it remains one of the university’s core collections.

GCU archivist Carole McCallum said: “Janey was a great supporter of our research collection and the items she purchased were in the fields we were concentrating on. The Spanish Civil War material from Janey is used by students across Scotland, and other items will be getting used right now by those working on their dissertations. Janey was also instrumental in setting up GCU’s centre for political song.

“Janey always kept her mind politically alert and we had fabulous conversations. Whether I spoke to her at length or for a short time, once or twice a month, I always learned something from her. I always had a laugh with her and she was remarkable.”

After leaving school at the age of 14, Janey met her future husband when they were members of the Young Communist League. The couple later joined the Labour Party.

Janey first contacted GCU in 1994, and the transfer of several thousand books and pamphlets began in the spring of 1995. Janey had a variety of interests, particularly South African affairs, the arts and gay rights. Material was selected considering potential use and the appropriateness of subject matter to GCU’s teaching and research needs.

The Collection contains fascinating items of particular note, including:

  • A series of newspaper billboards from 1931 found under the carpet of a house being demolished. Headlines range from "Scots Pit Disaster: Two Dead" to "Mr M'Govern Prefers Prison"
  • A photograph album compiled by Harold Mitchell of Spanish scenes, including war damage. The album carries his "pass to enter Nationalist Spain, signed by General Franco" dated 15th December 1936

Some of the key areas covered include:

  • Civil rights
  • Labour movement and trade union history
  • Media studies and censorship
  • Political biography
  • Radical press
  • Red Clydeside and Glasgow activists
  • Scottish culture and literature
  • Southern Africa and apartheid
  • Spanish Civil War

A funeral service will not take place for Mrs Buchan as her body has been donated to medical science.