The Blackie & Son Archive: Children’s School Textbooks, 1882-1976 – an introduction

Children's Historical Literature: Fiction (1909)

Children’s Historical Literature: Fiction (1909)

The University of Glasgow Library is continually seeking to enhance the Children’s Historical Collections, so we’re very pleased to announce the acquisition of the Blackie & Son archive of children’s textbooks published between 1882 and 1976 by the Blackie & Son publishing house. Blackie & Son produced both fiction and non-fiction educational books for children and was operational from 1806 until 1991, with premises in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London, and later India and Canada.

Children’s Historical Collections at the University of Glasgow Library

The Children’s Historical Collections at the University of Glasgow Library are categorized into three main areas: children’s fiction, children’s non-fiction and school textbooks, all of which are located on Level 4 of the Main Library, Gilmourhill Campus. The Blackie & Son archive, generously donated by the University of Leeds, includes titles that complement all three areas, but predominantly the school textbooks collection, which is why the books that have been selected for the archive were published between the 1872 Education Act and the 1965 Primary Memorandum.

Children's Historical Literature: Non Fiction (1903)

Children’s Historical Literature: Non Fiction (1903)

The coverage offered by the Blackie & Son archive actually extends slightly beyond the 1965 Primary Memorandum to 1976, as some of the texts in the archive are either reprints of earlier titles or they are later volumes of a series that began within the key time-frame. The Blackie & Son archive does not, however, include any titles published prior to 1882, owing perhaps to the limitations of any donation, but more likely because it wasn’t until 1878 and the publication of the Vere Foster Copy Books that Blackie & Son began focussing on children’s educational books in earnest.

The children’s historical fiction collection includes a number of high quality ‘presentation copies’ of books that are of particular interest to researches due to their condition and the fact that, in some cases, the books still contain original school certificates and bookplates. Similarly, the Blackie & Son archive features mostly pre-publication file copies of books stored by the publishers and never circulated. This has ensured that, although many of the titles are pamphlets or paperbacks that would have deteriorated through normal use, these have been very well preserved and sometimes contain original corrections and amendments by the author or editor.

How to request material from the Blackie & Son Archive

A selection of Blackie & Son textbooks

A selection of Blackie & Son textbooks

The Blackie & Son archive is comprised of almost 1,700 books covering 29 subject areas, from Art and Domestic Science to Speech and Vere Foster copybooks, and is currently located in the Library Research Annexe. To request material from the collection, make a note of the titles you are interested in from the list, together with their assigned ‘book number’, and submit a request form for each one. Alternatively, you can visit the Library Research Annexe by appointment, 10:00-16:00, Monday-Friday.


Next: The second of three blog articles on the The Blackie & Son Archive: Children’s School Textbooks, 1882-1976, will provide a brief background to Blackie & Son Publishers and its connection to Glasgow, the philanthropist Vere Foster, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and the book designer Talwin Morris, some of whose designs are evident in the archive.

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