Turkey Red and the Slave Economy

Turkey Red, a process of dying cotton a vibrant crimson, has an early history in Scotland that is tainted by its links to the transatlantic slave trade and its associated economy. The process was introduced to Glasgow in 1785 by George Macintosh and David Dale. Macintosh had previously established a cudbear dye works at Dunchattan, Glasgow, whilst Dale, who was involved in the cotton industry, … Continue reading Turkey Red and the Slave Economy

Glasgow Museums Collection OG.1948.14.2

John Glassford’s Art Collection

John Glassford of Dougalston (1715 -1783) is famed for his success as a businessman, but few people know about his art collection. It was sold at auction at Christies on 23rd December 1786. The auction catalogue lists 139 paintings for sale. The collection was mostly made up of British, Dutch and French artists but there were also a few Italian paintings. He had three works … Continue reading John Glassford’s Art Collection

A Century of Style: Costume and Colour 1800-1899

The Black History of White Cotton Dresses

Glasgow Museums has some wonderful cotton dresses dating from the early nineteenth century. Fashion is often displayed in museums in terms of its aesthetics. Admired for its neoclassical elegance, the slim silhouette of the early 1800s is linked to ideals of reforms and new freedoms – whether from the political tyranny of the Ancien Régime after the French Revolution or the incorrectly-perceived physical constraints of late-1700s … Continue reading The Black History of White Cotton Dresses

Erin Algeo at Glasgow City Archives

Making a Difference –  Erin Algeo’s research on Glasgow and Slavery

Erin Algeo is an American student who recently studied at Glasgow University.  During this time she attended talks on Glasgow and Slavery given by Dr Anthony Lewis, curator of Scottish History at the Mitchell Library, and wanted to become a volunteer. During her time with us Erin has been researching collections within the Mitchell Library, specifically 18th century Customs & Excise Books for Imports and … Continue reading Making a Difference –  Erin Algeo’s research on Glasgow and Slavery

Object Talks: Dr Anthony Lewis

Curator of Scottish History, Dr Anthony Lewis, discusses Glasgow Museums’ slavery related collections, currently in storage at Kelvin Hall – https://bit.ly/2RCr8Vu 1) The Ram’s Horn/Chest of Drawers Glasgow made money from trading in tobacco. The crop was grown, harvested and prepared by enslaved African people in America, and then shipped to Port Glasgow and Greenock. 2) Print of the Trongate This view of Trongate shows … Continue reading Object Talks: Dr Anthony Lewis

Learning about Slavery, Past and Present

Glasgow Museums provides a comprehensive curriculum-linked programme for nursery, primary and secondary school groups delivered across nine venues. Based on the museums’ vast collection and encouraging learning through exploring original artefacts and buildings, over one hundred different facilitated sessions are available. In 2015 we started developing two workshops focusing on the topic of slavery and its connection with the city of Glasgow. We were aware … Continue reading Learning about Slavery, Past and Present

Glasgow Museums Collection A.1998.1.341

Smoking the products of slavery

Glasgow was addicted to tobacco a long time before the era of its notorious Tobacco Lords. By the early 1600s smoking the exotic New World plant was becoming part of social life in Scotland and by the 1630s Glasgow merchants were importing and selling tobacco to the city’s new consumers. Loathed by James VI as a filthy habit, smoking was nonetheless fast becoming a trendy … Continue reading Smoking the products of slavery

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David Dale: an abolitionist cotton magnate

One of the most significant Scottish cotton manufacturers in the late 1800s was David Dale, who is largely remembered today for founding New Lanark cotton mills in 1785. Dale was born in Stewarton, Ayrshire, in 1739 and served his apprenticeship with a hand-loom weaver in Paisley before becoming a linen merchant in Glasgow. In 1784 he met and went into partnership with Richard Arkwright, who … Continue reading David Dale: an abolitionist cotton magnate

Glasgow Museums and Collections T-SK-22-5

Glasgow Plantation Owners in Jamaica

In the 17th and 18th centuries Glasgow achieved commercial success through its trade in tobacco and sugar. Its merchants acquired land on the east coast of America and in the West Indies where the land was cleared for tobacco and sugar plantations.  The Scots relationship with the Caribbean became more significant, particularly after American Independence. Jamaica became the dominant island in the Caribbean and by … Continue reading Glasgow Plantation Owners in Jamaica

Glasgow Museums Collection TEMP.4663.10

The Tontine Heads

New interpretation at Provand’s Lordship highlights the links between the ‘Tontine heads’ and slavery. These stone heads were given this name after Glasgow’s Tontine Society took over the Tontine building on Trongate in 1781 to use it as an exchange for sugar dealers. The heads, however, belong to the building when it was Glasgow’s Town Hall. The Town Hall itself was built between the 1730s … Continue reading The Tontine Heads

Blockade Runners display - Riverside Museum

Glasgow’s role in the American Civil War

The City of Glasgow profited greatly from the American Civil War of 1861-1865.  Dozens of Clyde-built steamers were sold to the Southern rebel forces for use as blockade runners.  The blockade had been established by the Northern naval forces to try and squeeze the rebels into submission. The fast, shallow draft Clyde vessels took armaments and other supplies into Southern harbours such as Wilmington and … Continue reading Glasgow’s role in the American Civil War

Boyd, an Enslaved African in Glasgow

In the summer of 1770, a sixteen-year-old enslaved boy named Boyd escaped from his master in Glasgow. This advertisement was placed in the Glasgow Journal by James Kippen, who had been the master of a ship named Lady Margaret which had left Greenock for Virginia in January of 1770. It was not uncommon for ship captains and officers to own enslaved boys and men who … Continue reading Boyd, an Enslaved African in Glasgow

'Polygraphs' exhibition GoMA, Glasgow

Contemporary Art and Slavery

Polygraphs was an exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) that explored truth, fiction and evidence in a complex world. The show was drawn from Glasgow Museums’ collection and included artists who interrogate dominant historical narratives such as our relationship to the arms trade, colonialism and the slave trade. In terms of Glasgow’s relationship to the slave trade we included works by Beth Forde, an … Continue reading Contemporary Art and Slavery

Glasgow Museums Collection PR.2004.5.12

The Cunninghame Mansion

The building housing Glasgow’s Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) started out as a mansion for the tobacco and sugar merchant William Cunninghame of Lainshaw (1731 – 1799). The plot of land on Queen Street where the Gallery stands was once agricultural ground on Glasgow’s western frontier. Construction of the small but impressive mansion house started in 1777. The house had a sunk storey for kitchens, … Continue reading The Cunninghame Mansion

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A fashionable accessory?

What at first appears to be a charming piece of needlework actually reflects one of the darker sides of British history. This panel is made from linen embroidered in coloured silk and wool threads with cross, flame, satin and tent stitches – all relatively simple techniques suggesting that it was made by an amateur as a leisurely pastime. Against a fantastical background of flowering plants, … Continue reading A fashionable accessory?

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John Glassford’s Family Portrait

When the portrait of the tobacco merchant John Glassford and his family was given to Glasgow Museums in 1950 not much was known about it, and a myth grew about a black slave boy who had been painted over to erase Glasgow’s association with the slave trade. In 2007 the painting was moved from the People’s Palace to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum where conservation … Continue reading John Glassford’s Family Portrait

Gustavus Brown’s Runaway Slave

In February 1727 Dr Gustavus Brown placed this advertisement in The Edinburgh Evening Courant: RUN away on the 7th Instant from Dr. Gustavus Brown’s Lodgings in Glasgow, a Negro Woman, named Ann, being about 18 Years of Age, with a green Gown and a Brass Collar about her Neck, on which are engraved these Words [“Gustavus Brown in Dalkieth his Negro, 1726.”] Whoever apprehends her, … Continue reading Gustavus Brown’s Runaway Slave

'How Glasgow Flourished 1714-1837' exhibition

How Glasgow Flourished, 1714-1837

In the summer of 2014, when Glasgow played host to the Commonwealth Games, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum held a special exhibition called How Glasgow Flourished, 1714 – 1837. This endorsed Glasgow Museum’s commitment to displaying objects and stories about the city’s historic links with transatlantic chattel slavery in America and the West Indies. The central core of the exhibition was about the way Glasgow’s … Continue reading How Glasgow Flourished, 1714-1837

Glasgow Museums Collections E.1946.87.im

How Glasgow Flourished Symposium

Glasgow Museums has a commitment to displaying and discussing its collections’ links to slavery. Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum hosted a symposium in 2014 on ‘How Glasgow Flourished, 1714  -1837’. This complemented the exhibition of the same name and brought together academics and curators to explore various themes relating to the growth of Glasgow in this period. The talks were all recorded with the aim … Continue reading How Glasgow Flourished Symposium

Jamie Montgomery, Runaway Slave

In 1750 a Scottish merchant in Virginia named Robert Shedden purchased an enslaved boy named Jamie for £56. Two years later Shedden sent the young boy back to Scotland where he would be apprenticed to Shedden’s brother-in-law, a carpenter named Robert Morrice who lived in Shedden’s home town of Beith, Ayrshire. Shedden intended to profit by this, for he would eventually have Jamie sent back … Continue reading Jamie Montgomery, Runaway Slave