ARCHI’VE CELEBRATED 60 years of a University Archivist

David Wilson Reid

This week we’re taking part in the Explore Your Archive awareness campaign. As today’s theme is #yearinarchives we’d like to celebrate the fact that 2015 marks 60 years since the appointment of David Wilson Reid as the first professional University Archivist in 1955. David Reid served as University Archivist from 1955 until his death in 1973 and the extract below is taken from his obituary in the Glasgow University Gazette, March 1974:

“He built up the organisation of the University Archives into a sophisticated and efficient system of calendaring and indexing organised on carefully thought-out principles. He took a highly progressive view of the Archivist’s role, seeing it as embracing not merely records of the past, but as an on-going function within modern organisational structures. Sadly he only just lived to see the new and modern accommodation provided by the University for the housing of its archives.

David Reid was an inspiration to all who worked for him, always cheerful, good-natured and enthusiastic. Members of the University who went to him for advice and help always received an interested welcome; he would go to great pains to make sure that the full resources of the University’s archives were made available, as well as drawing upon his wide knowledge of Scottish source materials, unrivaled indeed on those matters which he had made his special concern. With his tall figure and old-world manner, often set off by a kind of detached air appropriate to an archivist, he was a distinctive part of the University.”

Before the appointment of a professional archivist, effective record keeping had been an important function of the University since at least 1490 when it was noted in the Annales Universitatis Glasguensis 1451–1558 that ‘in accordance with a proposition of the Lord Rector, a parchment book is ordered to be procured, in which important writs, statutes, and lists of the University, are to be engrossed: and also a paper book, for recording judicial proceedings.’

Clerk’s Press

The clerk to the Faculty, and subsequently the clerk of Senate, maintained the records of the University due to the continuing requirement to ensure that the privileges, rights, policies and finances of the university were kept in good order.

In 1634 the Clerk’s Press was acquired to hold such records and is today the oldest surviving piece of university furniture and held as part of the Hunterian Collections.

Today, Archive Services staff continue to strive to ensure that the full resources of the University’s archives alongside our business archive collections are preserved and made available to researchers. Some of the ways we work to that are by maintaining an online catalogue of our collections, welcoming researchers to our searchroom and making use of multiple social media tools to promote and raise awareness of our collections.

Follow us on twitter today @UofGArchives to find out about some of the projects that have used our archive collections this year.

Categories: Archive Services

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