Children’s Correspondence

In 1954, the General Assembly of the UN recommended that all countries institute a Universal Children’s Day. International Children’s Day is recognized on various days around the world (you can see a full list of dates here).  Many countries have chosen to celebrate on June 1, as this is when the World Conference for the Well-being of Children in Geneva proclaimed it to be International Children’s Day in 1925. The day is often marked by events dedicated to children’s rights, and aims to honour children globally. Here at Archive Services, we looked to the childhood treasures that are hidden within our Bowman collection.

Professor Archibald Allan Bowman (1883-1936) was a University graduate and Professor of Logic and Rhetoric, 1925 to 1927, and Professor of Moral Philosophy here from 1927 until 1936. Our Bowman collection contains records of his academic career, his involvement in the Great War, as well as his family life (you can read more about the collection here). The Bowman family had strong links with the University. He married his former student Mabel Stewart on Christmas Eve 1912 and together they raised Archibald Ian, Mary ‘Maisie’ Isabel and Alastair Allan ‘Ally’ Bowman, all of whom were students at the University of Glasgow.  In the spirit of Children’s Day, we thought it appropriate to look at the letters exchanged between them when they were younger. It’s always a joy to come across humorous and heart-warming items in the archive. The juvenile handwriting and illustrations makes these letters particularly endearing, and provide an intimate snapshot into the Bowman’s family life:

DC77/6/10/3 – A letter from Mary (signed Maisie) to her brother Ian, talking about their baby brother Alastair – ‘Baby kicks and kicks now in his bath and creeps about the floor’

DC77-6-10-3 d3

DC77/6/10/3 – A plan and elevation view of baby Alastair, drawn by Maisie.


DC77/6/10/3 – A letter from Ian to Maisie at Christmas time – ‘I expect your very lonely without me, and I’m very lonely without you’. Note the ‘Giant Skeleton’ and the bird of time flying by…

DC77/6/10/3 – Maisie wishes Ian a happy birthday and keeps it short and sweet ‘I was at the baths today and had a good time, it is the first of May’

Our Bowman collection also includes letters exchanged between Archibald Bowman and his children. They include captivating illustrations and show the playful nature of the Bowman family. Bowman takes his metaphors to another level, as you can see below:

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DC77/6/10/3 – ‘In order to see the scenery I glued my face to the window like this’


It is easy to get lost in the Bowman collection. The letters have a real warmth to them and are extremely special. The childlike innocence of some of the correspondence is both nostalgic and moving.

If you would like to visit the University Archives and consult records from the Bowman collection, please contact us or email us at

Categories: Archive Services

2 replies


  1. Reblogged: post on children’s correspondence | What is a letter?
  2. Archibald A Bowman as Officer-Prisoner-of-War, 1918 by Laura Gould – University of Glasgow Library

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