Skip to main content

The photographs for the Survey of Edinburgh, c 1890-c 1910

 sub-series
Identifier: Coll-1167/B/26

Scope and Contents

Glass plate negatives, from which photographic prints were made, these prints forming part of Patrick Geddes' "First Planning Survey of Edinburgh". The glass plate negatives were made especially for the survey of Edinburgh as an example of Geddes' method to demonstrate, in visual form, phases in the development of Edinburgh over several critical historic periods. In this way he attempted to make the connection of the present with the past.

Dates

  • c 1890-c 1910

Language of Materials

From the Fonds: English

French

Hebrew

Latin

Dutch

Flemish

Biographical / Historical

The prints formed part of Patrick Geddes' "First Planning Survey of Edinburgh". The glass plate negatives were made especially for the survey of Edinburgh as an example of Geddes' method to demonstrate, in visual form, phases in the development of Edinburgh over several critical historic periods. In this way he attempted to make the connection of the present with the past. The photographs were used to complement the other visual forms within the survey (such as pencil and water-colour illustrations, which Geddes argued were more accessible to the layman, than were technical drawings or maps). This use of documentary photography was innovative for this period in Edinburgh. The glass-plate negatives were used by Geddes and his associates to illustrate his "Survey of Edinburgh" which formed part of his "Cities and Town Planning Exhibition" (1910). The date of the earliest photograph is unkown.

Extent

276 glass plate negative

Arrangement

The first arrrangement of the glass plate negatives was made by Mrs Sofia Leonard between 1985-1987. Work continued under her supervision by young workers from The Manpower Services Commission and completed with her help by E.C.I. Fortescue between 1988-1990. The arrangement established by Sofia Leonard has been retained, along with much of the catalogue content. Minor corrections have been made, and a new numbering system applied. Cross-referencing to document where images were exhibited within Geddes' "Cities and Town Planning Exhibition" have been recorded in the catalogue wherever possible.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

The glass-plate negatives were formerly housed in envelopes on which was a handwritten label detailing the location of the scene. Some were badly damaged. All have been conserved and re-housed in acid-free four-flap enclosures and boxes (2018). The original envelopes have been retained.

Existence and Location of Copies

A full set of positive photographic prints were made in the 1980s. These are catalogued under Coll-1167/B/27.

Related Materials

Coll-1167/B/11; Coll-1167/B/13; Coll-1167/B/15-21; Coll-1167/B/23-24; Coll-1167/B/27-28

Provenance

It has not been possible to establish (despite multiple enquiries) who the photographers were for each glass plate negative. We know that Geddes used photographs from glass plate negatives made by Francis Inglis and the Royal Photograpic Society of Edinburgh, which included glass plate negatives made by photographer Robert Dykes. Geddes was also assisted in the photographic survey by two of his children Norah Geddes and Alasdair Geddes. The handwriting of Norah Geddes, Alasdair Geddes and Robert Dykes all appear on the original envelopes which contained each glass plate negative. It has not been possible to establish whether Geddes commissioned the Royal Photographic Society of Edinburgh or just had an agreement with them to use the photographs that they created during their survey work. We know that Robert Dykes presented to the Royal Photographic Society of Edinburgh on his Edinburgh images.

Previous reference

PSE/A-Y; there are also a number of photographs which were catalogued as part of the general "Cities and Town Planning Exhibition: Survey of Edinburgh" series (formerly A2).

Processing Information

The first arrrangement of the glass plate negatives was made by Mrs Sofia Leonard between 1985-1987. Work continued under her supervision by young workders from The Manpower Services Commission and completed with her help by E.C. I. Fortescue between 1988-1990. The arrangement established by Sofia Leonard has been retained, along with much of the catalogue content. Minor corrections have been made, and a new numbering system applied. Cross-referencing to document where images were exhibited with Geddes' "Cities and Town Planning Exhibition" have been documented in the catalogue wherever possible. Each photographic print is mounted on an A4 page, with the draft layout and text for the legacy printed catalogue of the "Phographs for the Survey of Edinburgh by Sir Patrick Geddes", produced as Vol II of the Catalogue of the Archives of the Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies, (1998). This series of photographic prints and their corresponding glass plate negatives (see Coll-1167/B/26) are arranged to mirror each other. This means that Coll-1167/B/27 references refer to the photographic prints, Coll-1167/B/26 references refer to the corresponding glass plate negatives. For example the photographic print with catalogue reference number Coll-1167/B/27/1/1 has a corresponding glass plate negative with catalogue reference number Coll-1167/B/26/1/1.

Repository Details

Part of the Edinburgh University Library Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379