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Patrick Geddes Collection

Identifier: Coll-1167

Scope and Contents

The collection contains original exhibits from Patrick Geddes' replacement Cities and Town Planning Exhibitions (which was constituted 1914-1924, after the original exhibition was lost at sea during transit to India in October 1914). Also included are items from Geddes' Survey of Edinburgh (which formed part of the Cities and Town Planning Exhibition as an illustration of Geddes' city and region survey). The Survey of Edinburgh includes over 250 glass plate negatives which were commissioned to visiually document the City of Edinburgh (c 1890-1910).
Also found in the collections are exhibits, teaching and learning materials amassed at Patrick Geddes' Outlook Tower. Material includes place-based survey material illustrating the geography, geology, culture, history, agriculture, occupations, etc., of cities and regions throughout Scotland, Europe and the World.
Further material relates to Patrick Geddes' work in India (1914-1924), Palestine and the Middle East (c 1919-1924).
The physical formats of the material include but are not exclusive to photographic prints, glass plate and film negatives, plans, maps, illustrations, ink and wash watercolour drawings, prints, diagrams etc.. A full list of formats and their extent can be found under 'Extent'.


  • 1753-c 1985


Language of Materials








2275 item : There are 2275 items in total, a breakdown of extents is provided below. Please see processing note regarding extant items.

703 photographic print

330 glass plate negative

284 35mm photographic film negative

158 engraving

120 plan

111 map

82 drawing

64 photograph contact print

64 lithograph

52 reproduction print

51 illustration

47 reproduction plan

44 print

27 collotype

23 postcard

17 etching

13 watercolour

10 poster

8 pamphlet

8 reproduction photograph

7 file

6 aquatint

6 printed extract

5 typescript files

4 transparency

4 diagram

3 facsimile

3 plate

3 report

2 calotype

2 volume

1 frieze

1 survey

1 carving

1 plaster model


The papers of Patrick Geddes have previously been the subject of multiple listing and cataloguing projects. Some earlier listings were undertaken by non-specialist staff and pre-date the development of professional archival cataloguing standards. Other cataloguing efforts utilised extensive specialist and research knowledge and contain much invaluable descriptive content.
The Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies produced a two volume collection catalogue 'The Papers of Professor Sir Patrick Geddes from the Outlook Tower, Edinburgh' in 1998. This was the culmination of over 12 years' listing and cataloguing work undertaken by a range of staff and volunteers. It was this work that set out the intellectual arrangement of the collection into 8 series (Vol I), with a second catalogue pertaining solely to the photographs for Geddes'Survey of Edinburgh' (Vol II).

Former Arrangement

  1. A1 - Cities and Town Planning Exhibitoin
  2. A2 - Outline of a Survey of Edinburgh
  3. A3 - Scotland Room Prints and Photographs
  4. A4 - Geddes in India
  5. A5 - Geddes in Palestine
  6. A6 - Middle East prints and photographs
  7. A7 - McEwan Hall
  8. A8 - Geddes related material
In general, the inherited intellectual arrangement has been maintained as far as possible. However, a number of key adjustments have been applied in an attempt to reflect the provenance of the collections more clearly, to address the confusion resulting from previous duplication of catalogue entries and reference numbers, and to allow for the seamless addition of future collection accruals.
These measures include (but are not exclusive to) the application of additional levels in the hierarchical structure of the catlaogue in line with current (2020) international professional archival standards, to aid comprehension and navigation of the collection; the introduction of new series to allow for the addition of previously uncatalogued material (discovered during the 2016-2020 stock-check); the introduction of a revised reference numbering system to reflect the revised intellectual arrangement; incorporating the Photographs for the Survey of Edinburgh (formerly listed in Vol II of the 1998 catalogue) in the the main series of records listed under 'The Survey of Edinburgh; and removing duplicate descriptions.
A copy of the legacy printed catalogue produced by the Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies (1998) is held by the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh, and has been annotated with the new catalogue reference numbers. The new online catalogue (2016-2020) includes comprehensive explanatory notes, which cross-refer to the legacy printed catalogue wherever necessary.

Revised Arrangement (2020)

  1. A - The Cities and Town Planning Exhibitions
  2. B - The Survey of Edinburgh (including the Photographs for the Survey of Edinburgh)
  3. C - Scenes of Scotland
  4. D - Scenes of England
  5. E - Scenes of Europe
  6. F - Scenes of the World
  7. G - Patrick Geddes in India
  8. H - Patrick Geddes in Palestine
  9. I - Patrick Geddes in the Middle East
  10. J - McEwan Hall
  11. K - Geddes Related Material

Other Finding Aids

It may on occassion be necessary or helpful to cross-refer to the legacy printed catalogue, 'The Papers of Professor Sir Patrick Geddes at the Outlook Tower, Edinburgh, Vol I' and 'Photographs of the Survey of Edinburgh by Sir Patrick Geddes, Vol II', produced by the Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies (1998). Physical and digital copies of the legacy catalogue are retained by the Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh.

Custodial History

Many of the historic papers of Patrick Geddes are now (2020) housed in the Archives and Special Collections services of the Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde, the National Library of Scotland, and a small proportion at Historic Environment Scotland, as well as other institutions. The history of the collections is complex, each part having been in the care of multiple custodians and subject to multiple physical relocations before reaching their current homes. Additional material is held in private hands and other institutions across the world, some of which has been identified, but other part or whole collections are yet to be uncovered.
In 1892, Patrick Geddes purchased a six-storey building on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. He developed this once public observatory into a civic museum; an education tool aimed at the urban planner and the citizen. He named it the Outlook Tower. Here, Geddes amassed a vast collection of maps, views, plans, architectural drawings, photographs and other visual images. The Outlook Tower collections included his Survey of Edinburgh (commenced in the early 1890s), and material from his early exhibitions in Paris (1900), Glasgow (1901) and London (1910). Geddes' Cities and Town Planning Exhibition (first displayed in London in February 1911) emerged from the collections at the Outlook Tower. Between 1911 and 1914 Geddes toured his Cities and Town Planning Exhibition around the United Kingdom, Ireland and Europe, including visits to Edinburgh, Dublin, Belfast, Ghent and Paris. Composed of over 4000 exhibits, the original Cities and Town Planning Exhibition was lost at sea on board the SS Clan Grant during transit to India in 1914.
A replacement exhibition was assembled under the direction of Geddes' colleague and friend, the architect, Henry Vaughan Lanchester (1863-1953), and shipped to India in December 1914. It is this replacement exhibition, including material relating to Geddes' Survey of Edinburgh, that makes up much of the surviving collections material at both the Universities of Edinburgh and Strathclyde. Additional papers at the University of Strathclyde Archives and Special Collections, brought together by Patrick Geddes' youngest son Arthur Geddes (1895-1968) include textual records, pamphlets, books, maps, plans, photographs, prints and drawings relating to all of Geddes' life and work up until his death in 1932. The National Library of Scotland also holds some Cities and Town Planning Exhibition material along with multiple series of Geddes' and his family's correspondence.
Between 1914 and 1924, Patrick Geddes toured the Cities and Town Planning Exhibition around India during his 10 years there. Throughout his time in India, Geddes surveyed over 30 Indian cities as he fulfilled multiple requests for advice on city improvements. He served as the inaugural Chair of Sociology and Civics at the then University of Bombay from 1919-1924. Geddes relocated to Montpellier, France, in 1924. Here he founded the Scots' College and he remained in Montpellier until his death in 1932. In 1927, the Cities and Town Planning Exhibition was boxed in tea chests and shipped from India to the Scots' College in Montpellier. After Geddes' death his son, Arthur Geddes, sent these tea chests containing the exhibition to London in 1947. These were to be inspected by town planner Jacqueline Tyrwhitt (1905-1983) on behalf of the Association for Planning and Regional Reconstruciton (APRR; an affiliate of the Town Planning Institute) with a view to purchasing the material. At this time, additional material which had been stored at More's Garden, Patrick Geddes' University Settlement in Chelsea, was selected by Tyrwhitt to be re-united with the material arriving from France. The APRR did not purchase the collection, although in November 1948, Tyrwhitt along with Professor Sir George Pepler (1882-1959), town planner, organised an exhibition in London with selected illustrations from Geddes' Cities and Town Planning Exhibition.
This meant that in 1948, collections material was to be found across at least four locations: More's Garden, University College London, on loan to Pepler and Tyrwhitt, and at the Outlook Tower. Between 1948 and 1954, collections at the Outlook Tower were temporarily removed to allow refurbishment work to take place. In the early 1950s, Arthur Geddes, by then a lecturer in geography at the University of Edinburgh, undertook a visiting professorship to the University of California. He selected sample material from the collections at the Outlook Tower and took it with him to California in the hope that the University of California would purchase the Cities and Town Planning Exhibition. Between 1947 and 1955, the collections had been subject to multiple relocations and significant dispersal. Much damage to the exhibits seems to have happened at this stage, according to a statement of losses and assets drawn up around 1955 by the Outlook Tower Association (founded by Arthur Geddes in 1948).
Material from the Tyrwhitt and Pepler exhibition was placed in the care of the University of Edinburgh's Professor Percy Johnson-Marshall (1915-1933), town planner, and newly appointed senior lecturer at the University's School of Architecture. The Trustees of the Outlook Tower sold the remaining material in 1955 to Dr Thomas Findlay Lyon (1911-1973), a lecturer in town planning at the Royal Technical College, Glasgow. The Royal Technical College was succeeded by the University of Strathclyde in 1964.
In 1949, the Outlook Tower was sold by the Town and Gown Association to Castlehill Properties Ltd, a trust which included members of the Geddes family. Perchy Johnson-Marshall and Professor Robert Matthew created the School of Architecture at the University of Edinburgh in 1959, in which they developed a course in Civic Design. The intention was to repair and restore the Outlook Tower in which could be housed a newly formed Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies for the University of Edinburgh. In order to allow refurbishment work to proceed, Johnson-Marshall together with Castlehill Properties Trust arranged for the archive collections to be cleared from the Outlook Tower and stored temporarily in University of Edinburgh premises. Some material appears to have been lost at this stage and, undoubtedly, further losses are likely to have occurred because of multiple subsequent moves.
Between 1959 and 1989 the Patrick Geddes archives were relocated no less than 8 times, including spending a number of years concealed in the bricked-up attic of 58 George Square, Edinburgh. The Patrick Geddes Archives returned to the Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies at the Outlook Tower in 1989, with the exception of a small proportion of collections material which was placed with the then Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments for Scotland (succeeded by Historic Environment Scotland). From 1989, the Patrick Geddes Archives remained at the Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies at the Outlook Tower until its transfer to the University of Eidnburgh Archives and Special Collections in the late 1990s / early 2000s.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies, University of Edinburgh


Possible future accruals are expected when the remaining collections of and relating to the former Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies, University of Edinburgh, are assessed and catalogued.

Related Materials

A number of related collections are to be found within the University of Edinburgh's Archives and Special Collections, and at other institutions. These are listed below.

Related materials held by the University of Edinburgh Archives and Special Collections

  1. GB 0237 Coll-1869 - Geddes Family Photographs and Related Material
  2. GB 0237 Coll-1643 - Papers of Sir Frank C. Mears
  3. GB 0237 PJM - The Percy Johnson Marshall Collection
  4. GB 0237 Coll-1159 - Letter from Patrick Geddes to R. E. Muirhead
  5. GB 0237 Coll-1264 - Papers of Lewis T. Waters
  6. GB 0237 Coll-800 - Material relating to the Outlook Tower Current Events Club
  7. GB 0237 Coll-1841 - Records relating to the Mechanics' Library and University Hall, Riddle's Court
  8. GB 0237 Coll-72 - Papers of William Speirs Bruce
  9. GB 0237 Coll-692 - Work of William M. Palin
  10. GB 0237 Coll-1848/17-0194 - Typescript by Edward McGegan entitled 'Notes on Patrick Geddes as Man of Action'
  11. GB 0237 Coll-411/1/1/1167 - Letter to Sir Donald Francis Tovey from Sir Patrick Geddes
  12. GB 0237 EUA IN1/ADS/SEC/CRR [AB 01 AG 02 AB] - Correspondence relation to the University Halls of Residence at Mylne's Court and Patrick Geddes
  13. GB 0237 Uncatalogued - Association for Planning and Regional Reconstruction
  14. GB 0237 Uncatalogued - Department for Urban Design and Regional Planning
  15. GB 0237 Uncatalogued - Papers of Professor Ambrowse Rouse
  16. GB 0237 Uncatalogued - Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies

Related materials held by the University of Strathclyde Archives and Special Collections

  1. GB 0249 T-GED - Patrick Geddes Papers
  2. GB 0249 T-TYR - Jacqueline Tyrwhitt Papers
  3. GB 0249 T-ROS - Dr Louis Rosenburg Papers

Related materials at the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscript Collections

  1. GB 0233 MSS. 10501-10657 - Papers of Patrick Geddes
  2. GB 0233 MSS. 19253-19286 - Papers of and concerning Sir Patrick Geddes and his son, Arthur Geddes
  3. GB 0233 MSS. 19287 - Corrected typescript draft of Paddy Kitchen's biography of Sir Patrick Geddes
  4. GB 0233 MSS. 19994-19999 - Papers of Sir Patrick Geddes
  5. GB 0233 MSS. 20261 - Papers of Mrs J. S. Haldane
  6. GB 0233 MSS. 21199-21203 - Correspondence, lectures, notes and diagrams of Sir Patrick Geddes and Arthur Geddes
  7. GB 0233 MSS. 21204-21205 - Papers relating to Sir Patrick Geddes, including transcript of BBC television programme, "Eye for the Future", on Sir Patrick Geddes
  8. GB 0233 Acc. 3721 - R. E. Muirhead: Papers and Correspondence
  9. GB 0233 Acc. 9583 - four letters of Sir Patrick Geddes
  10. GB 0233 Acc. 10495 - Letters of Charles Taylor (transcripts)
  11. GB 0233 Acc. 10922 - Professor Sir Robert Grieve
  12. GB 0233 Acc. 12401 - Annotated copy of "The Iona Autograph Album", presented to Patrick Geddes and Anna Geddes by Fiona MacLeod (William Sharp)
  13. GB 0233 Acc. 12423 - Patrick Geddes town planning reports (typescript), Jaffa and Tel-Aviv
  14. GB 0233 Acc. 12497 - Patrick Geddes town planning reports, India and Palestine
  15. GB 0233 Acc. 13319 - Cities and Town Planning Exhibition, devised by Sir Patrick Geddes
  16. GB 0233 Acc. 13661 - Papers relating to Sir Patrick Geddes, Dr Arthur Geddes, and the Outlook Tower
  17. GB 0233 Acc. 13852 - Papers of Norah Mears (née Geddes)
  18. GB 0233 Acc. 13930 - Letters of Sir Patrick Geddes and his family
  19. GB 0233 Acc. 13965 - Letters of Sir Patrick Geddes and his family

Related materials held at the University of Dundee Archive Services

  1. GB 0254 UR-SF9 - Sir Patrick Geddes, Professor of Botany
  2. GB 0254 MS79 - Mrs Barbara S. Martin: Patrick Geddes memorabilia
  3. GB 0254 MS197 - Correspondence of John T. Ewen
  4. GB 0254 UR-SF2/13 - Professor Alexander David Peacock: Patrick Geddes memorabilia

Related material held elsewhere

  1. GB 0199 GSG/7 - Victor Branford Trust
  2. GB 0059 Mss Eur F170/25 - File of reports on town planning by Professor Patrick Geddes
  3. GB 0046 DE/Ho/F3/F37 - Papers of Sir Ebenezer Howard
  4. GB 0172 - Victor Branford Collection
  5. University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Ms. Coll. 2 - Lewis Mumford Papers
  6. University of Oslo - Philip Boardman Collection
  7. Communes de Montpellier Archives Municpales

Separated Materials

Please see note regarding the complex custodial history of the collections which resulted in much of the Patrick Geddes archives being separated. Original collections material is held by the University of Edinburgh Archives and Special Collections, the University of Strathclyde Archives and Special Collections, the National Library of Scotland Archives and Special Collections, and Historic Environment Scotland. Additonal material is still in the private ownership of the Geddes family and yet more material is held by other institutions across the world.

Contextual Resources

Welter, Volker M., Stages of an Exhibition: The cities and Town Planning Exhibition of Patrick Geddes, in Planning History, Vol 20, No 1, (1998) (
Sofia G. Leonard, The Papers of Professor Sir Patrick Geddes from the Outlook Tower, Edinburgh: Catalogue of the Archives of the Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies, Vol I, Intoduction, pp. 1-10 (Centre for Research Collections, University of Edinburgh)
Geddes, P., Cities in Evolution, 2nd Edition, (London, 1949), courtesy of the Public Library of India (

Processing Information

Please note that the 2275 items recorded within this catalogue are a combination of those items identified and catalogued between 1985 and 1998 by staff and volunteers at the former Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies at the Outlook Tower, along with previously uncatalogued material that was also transferred to the University of Edinburgh Special Collections from the former Patrick Geddes Centre for Planning Studies at the Outlook Tower. The new material was uncovered during the 2016-2020 stock-check undertaken as part of the Wellcome Research Resource-funded archive cataloguing project "Evergreen: Patrick Geddes and the Environment in Equilibrium."
All of the items recorded within the printed legacy catlaogue (1998) are listed in the new online catalogue (2020), and much of the descriptive content from the 1998 printed catalogue has been migrated across to the online catalogue. There are a significant number of individual items or entire series from the legacy catalogue which were not located during the 2016-2020 stock-check. The catalogue descriptions for missing items are included in the new online catalogue for the purposes of audit trail and to allow for items to be easily integrated into the collections catalogue should they be rediscovered at a later date.
Patrick Geddes Collection
Elaine MacGillivray, project archivist
May 2020
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
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The Patrick Geddes Collection was catalogued thanks to generous funding from the Wellcome Research Resource Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Edinburgh University Library Special Collections Repository

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