Today University of Glasgow Archive Services launches a new project following the life and travels of William Fulton Jackson.
William Fulton Jackson, born in Glasgow in 1855, was the General Manager of the North British Railway Company. Whilst his success as a manager is important, certainly to North British Railway who saw their profits rise substantially during his time there, it is his remarkable photo albums for which he will be remembered. Ranging from 1909 until 1924, these albums give a unique insight into Edwardian family life and the middle classes; they show everything from the family relaxing at home in Edinburgh to travels abroad in Egypt.
The albums don’t just contain photographs; for each photograph there is also a carefully written caption which gives its date and location. With thousands of photographs, this in itself is quite a feat. These captions allow us to see where Jackson travelled for business and pleasure. Indeed if Jackson really did walk over “every portion of the 1,250 miles of the North British line” then he made a good attempt to photograph it too.
Interestingly Jackson did not take all of the photographs or caption them alone. As he is pictured in many of them a second photographer, his niece Jenny Cameron, has been identified. It is possible that she too was responsible for the captions, or it could have been another member of the family. Other family members are shown holding cameras and so it could be that the albums were a real family affair, where different people in the family had a go with the camera. There is little difference in photographic skill within the photos and it is hard to ascribe certain photos to any one person.
Every week we will be tweeting photographs from the album that were taken exactly one hundred years ago. The importance of the year 1914 is clear but this will not document a road to war, rather it gives a glimpse into what was about to be lost. Although the images are one hundred years old, they could easily be older. Many capture ideas described in Ian Hislop’s ‘Olden Days’ and are far removed from the pictures of trenches which spring to mind when picturing 1914; a rural idyll, picnics on the beach and afternoon tea in the garden.
As well as tweeting the photographs we will also be creating a Flickr set and Historypin tour. It will be possible to track Jackson as he travels across the country, with Historypin. Had Jackson been alive today, perhaps he would have collected his photos on Flickr, instead of bound within albums.
Categories: Archive Services