Appeal for wedding memories

This late 1930s wedding picture is similar to those being sought by the univeristy
This late 1930s wedding picture is similar to those being sought by the univeristy

Researchers at the University of Glasgow are calling on Galloway Gazette readers to help them find out more about working class courtship and marriage in the area during the late 19th century and the 20th century.

Historians working on major research project - A History of Working Class Marriage, 1855-1976 - are appealing for diaries, love letters and wedding photographs from across Scotland, dating from c.1860s-c.1976.

The project team would be very interested in receiving any such items that Dumfries and Galloway readers may have in their family archive. All items will be scanned electronically, anonymised, securely stored and original items returned to the sender.

Professor Eleanor Gordon, who leads the project, said: “We’re interested in what working class Scots thought about marriage and their contemporary expectations, and also in how they met their spouse, their time as a courting couple and how their relationship may have changed over the years. Studying contemporary love letters and diaries from across the country is one important way we can find out more – We can then begin to build a much more detailed historical picture of courtship and marriage in this period than we can get from the historical archives.”

Research already undertaken by the Project Team using census and poor law records, suggests that Scottish family units in the 19th century and early 20th century were much more flexible and complex than has previously been thought. For example, in Perthshire in 1881 almost one quarter of families were single parent, while in Govan the figure was one fifth. Step-families were not unusual and living together without following all the requirements for a regular marriage was very common. For example, in the years following the First World War, around one quarter of marriages in Edinburgh and Glasgow were ‘irregular’.

Over the coming months, the team will also conduct a series of oral history interviews across Scotland with men and women happy to discuss their experience of working-class courtship and marriage between the 1920s and 1960s.

If you can help, please contact the team or send your diaries, letters and/or wedding photographs with full contact details, including address, contact telephone number and e-mail address if applicable, to the address below. Wedding photographs in scanned format are also welcomes, which can be sent either electronically to the e-mail address below or in paper form. All materials will be processed by the university in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and securely stored within the University before being returned to the sender:

Andrea Thomson

Project Team – A History of Working-Class Marriage

c/o Room 209

Economic and Social History

Lilybank House

Bute Gardens

University of Glasgow


G12 8RT

Andrea Thomson on 0141 330 8118 email

Further information can also be found at the Project website: