Searchroom visitor from Massachusetts: Research into Sugar Mills Machinery

Over the past month, we have welcomed to our Searchroom David Singerman, a PhD student, all the way from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has joined the Centre for Business History in Scotland as an Associate Visiting Researcher and has been a Glasgow University Archives regular this month.

David studying a Mirrlees Letterbook

David has been using the records of sugar machinery manufacturers such as Smith Mirrlees and Duncan Stewart & Co Ltd. He has been using sources such as letter books, cost books, minute books and sugar machinery drawings to research companies here in Britain that built sugar machinery and sold it to countries all around the world. The quality of sugar used to be assessed through skill, knowledge, and sensory experience though a gradual change, between 1875 and 1925, meant that sugar’s value was now calculated by purity and sucrose content which could only be measured by chemists, instruments and laboratory science. With his Thesis: ‘An Empire of Purity’, he hopes to trace this change and the effects it had on the sugar industry.

Mirrlees letterbook (UGD/118/1/1/1)

The sugar industry was a very important one in Glasgow by the 19th century; making up for the loss of the Tobacco trade in the late 18th century. The important merchants of Glasgow made great gains from it. Glasgow’s tradition of heavy industry links with the sugar trade through the transport needed for sugar movement around the world, and also the manufacture of sugar machinery by companies like the ones David is researching.

Drawing of a Cast Iron Sugar Melter (UGD/118/12/19/15)

As his focus is the machinery sent to Cuba, David’s next stop in his research tour is to the Caribbean island.

According to David: ‘this is the friendliest archive I’ve visited, and I’ve found a lot of useful material!’

We would like to wish David the best of luck in the sunnier climes of Cuba and will welcome him back to Glasgow in the summer.

Categories: Archive Services

Tags: , , , , ,

4 replies

  1. I wish you all the very best David, a very interestin gsubject and one close to my heart. I worked for Smith Mirrlees from 1973 up until 1988. I am still involved in the sugar industry today with the English company Sudeco International.

    Bob Connor


  1. Reflections on a year in the Archive « University of Glasgow Library
  2. Tools of the sugar trade in Mauritius | The University of Glasgow's International Story Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: