In October, members of the Heritage Consortium team took part in a number of heritage activities in Glasgow.
On 2 October, a team from Hull History Centre and the Department of History at the University of Hull visited the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC) in order to explore how the story of Scottish Jewry has been curated at Scotland’s oldest purpose built synagogue. Through tours with Harvey Kaplan (Director of the SJAC) and discussions with museologist Deborah Haase, ideas for a forthcoming exhibition on Hull’s Jewish heritage at the Hull History Centre were debated. The group included Heritage Consortium supervisors Dr Nicholas Evans and Dr Rosemary Wall. The centre combines access to a research facility with collections relating to Jewish heritage within Scotland with a small but elegantly presented museum and education centre. The organisation has recently received funding from the Scottish Government to consider the creation of a Scottish Holocaust Centre utilising oral histories and other collections deposited by Scottish Jews around the world.
The group from Hull learnt about the oral history project which has been undertaken, which includes collaboration with students from the Universities of Strathclyde and Edinburgh, and the work which the Centre undertakes to increase awareness of Jewish heritage within wider communities throughout Scotland. This includes engaging audiences with the history and architecture of the oldest purpose-built synagogue in Scotland, Garnethill Synagogue, within which the Centre is based. The team from Hull also viewed sample material from the archives, the archive database and the museum space. We are very grateful to Harvey Kaplan and Deborah Haase for providing us with insights regarding possible activities regarding Jewish heritage in Hull, and relating to community engagement and co-production within the wider projects funded through the Heritage Consortium.
Earlier in the day, the group also visited Glasgow’s City Archives (housed in the Mitchell Library) in order to hear about the collections relating to Jewish history, including archives relating to healthcare. Later that day we learnt about the history of Glasgow’s links with slavery from an enlightening and engaging walking tour led by PhD scholar Stephen Mullen from the University of Glasgow. Stephen, who has shared the fruits of his research with people from around the world visiting Glasgow for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, has recently completed his thesis.
On the following day, 3 October, the Mitchell Library hosted the ESRC sponsored symposium ‘Recovering Scotland’s Slavery Past’, organised by the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull, the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies, University of Edinburgh, and the Centre for Irish and Scottish Studies, University of Otago. Speakers included Professor Sir Tom Devine (University of Edinburgh), Dr Stuart Nisbet (University of Glasgow), Dr Eric J Graham (University of Edinburgh), Professor Suzanne Schwarz (University of Worcester), Dr Nick Draper (University College London), Dr David Alston (an independent scholar who curated ‘Slaves and Highlanders’), Stephen Mullen (University of Glasgow), Dr Nicholas Evans (University of Hull), Dr Michael Morris (Liverpool John Moores University), Rev. Dr Iain Whyte (University of Edinburgh) and Professor Catherine Hall (University College London).
The event was part of an ESRC Seminar Series on Scotland’s Diaspora in International Perspective. Over 25 Graduate students and academic staff from the University of Hull attended this event including Heritage Consortium PhD student Sam North, who reflected
“it was good to hear numerous leading scholars speak about Scotland’s connection with slavery, an important story which has until recently received little public recognition. In a broad sense, I was able to find parallels with my own PhD work in the Cape area of South Africa, where slavery likewise has traditionally been the subject of little public representation. In addition, the conference venue at the Mitchell Library allowed me to browse the library’s temporary exhibition on Scotland and the Commonwealth. The Glasgow tour on the Thursday evening was a treat as our group was informed of the extensively interlinked relationship between slavery and the built heritage of the city. Just like merchants in Liverpool and Bristol, Glasgow men benefitted from slavery, reinvesting profits in opulent premises which remain notable in today’s city centre landscape.”
Many thanks for funding from the ESRC, Hull City Council, and the University of Hull’s Graduate School which enabled the group from the University of Hull to attend these events in Glasgow.
Text by Rosemary Wall and Nicholas Evans, photographs by Rosemary Wall. Feature image shows stained glass from Garnethill Synagogue.