The Birth of the G.U.M

On the 10th An Extraordinary General Meeting of the Students’ Representative Council was convened . . . for the purpose of considering the propriety of organising a University Magazine. That meeting of the Council unanimously resolved that it was extremely desirable to start such a paper, and instructed a Committee to proceed with the publication of the Magazine, the first number of which is now in your hands”.

With this opening address to students on the 5 Feb 1889, the Students Representative Council (SRC) presented to the University community, the first edition of Scotland’s oldest students’ publication: Glasgow University Magazine (G.U.M). The magazine still thrives today, has been awarded a number of prizes over the last century, and has provided a training ground for budding writers and cartoonists including John Buchan (1875-1940) and Osborne Henry Mavor (1888 – 1951). It is a valuable collection in our archive and a fantastic resource for those interested in student-life, though the collection can also be used to support many other areas of research. It is possible to find out more about the magazine through our online catalogue and via the magazine’s  website here.


First edition, ‘To the Students of Glasgow University’, p.1, DC198/1/1


As with most successful publications the magazine has evolved with the times. In 1889 the format was that of densely packed articles all in small-print, today it is an explosion of colour featuring much artwork and photography. In 1889 students submitted their contributions by posting them in a box, today these can be submitted online. In 1889 there were only male writers, today women writers are also welcome. Moreover, the content has also changed, the G.U.M’s jubilee edition published in 1937 recognises that ‘the only feature which has survived the fifty years [1889-1937] is Music and Drama – they seem to have enjoyed their free tickets in these days also’. Finally, according to J.H.Harley  the tone and attitude of the magazine has also significantly altered since his days as editor (1890-1892):

“There was quite definitely a difference in attitude, outlook and tone between the Victorian G.U.M and the later Georgian.”

He recalls:

“We took ourselves very seriously then . . .We were young Hegelians and believed that “all that is real is rational” . . . It was in this atmosphere of highly-rarified reason that the G.U.Mwas born”.





But despite the changes the magazine has undergone since its creation, there has been one vital constant: it has remained a publication produced by students for students. As the first edition neatly surmises, ‘the success of the Magazine rests with the general body of the Students’.

The first edition then closes its opening address with this hope, that the magazine would become ‘One more sign of the vitality of Glasgow Student Life’.

It is a wish that has been fulfilled.


Jubilee ed., ‘The Fleeting Hour’, (14 Dec. 1938), p.129









Past issues of the magazine (1889-2003) are available to consult in our search-room, you can book an appointment here.

NB. This would have surely pleased J.H.Haley who wrote:

“If any larger number of our early “Mag’s” had survived to the present day, I believe there would be found in them a not unworthy transcript of the delicious ecstasy of the Victorian Glasgow University which (in my mind) all the charms of Oxford life . . . have been unable, after all these fifty years, to obliterate or to dispel’.

Current issues of the magazine are distributed around campus around three times a year as well as online

Articles quoted in this blog:

The Editors, ‘To the students of Glasgow Univeristy’, GUM: No.1, (5 Feb 1889), DC198/1/1

J.H.Harley, ‘The Birth of the G.U.M’, GUM: Jubilee Volume, (1938-1939), DC/198/43/A

Editor, ‘The Fleeting Hour’, GUM: Jubilee Volume, (14 Dec 1938), DC/198/43/A

Categories: Archive Services

1 reply


  1. Happy Birthday to The Queen: Life at the University in 1926 – University of Glasgow Library

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