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Research archive of John Martin concerning the History of Student Theatre at the University of Edinburgh

Identifier: Coll-1942

Scope and Contents

The fonds consists of the research archive of John Martin relating to his on-going project on student theatre, which aims to compile a history of student theatre in Edinburgh from 1850 to 1970. In order to understand the wider student context in which theatre groups had arisen, John Martin started to work on two "spin-off" projects to support his research: one on student numbers at the University of Edinburgh between 1836 and 1966, and a second one on student societies in Edinburgh University between 1720 and 1970+. The present collection comprises the raw data, outputs, and supporting documents resulting from these two sub-projects.

SC-Acc-2017-0226: raw data gathered on student numbers, and the output research report written by John Martin on student numbers at the University of Edinburgh between 1836 and 1966 using sources held by the Centre for Research Collections (CRC) at the University of Edinburgh Library. It includes 199 digital files.

SC-Acc-2021-0053: folder entitled "Student societies in Edinburgh University 1720-1970+. An overview" by John Martin, and associated digital files on a USB stick. The author used the University calendars and the student handbooks to track and analyse 279 societies over 230 years.

Inventory of SC-Acc-2021-0053:

  1. Printed copy of the paper (60 pages).
  2. Copy of the "Big Chart" (a single A0 sheet), which also exists in PDF format and as an Excel worksheet.
  3. "Read only" Excel (Office 2007) copy of the "Big Chart", saved as passive flat database (no active formulae). This is the most important output of the project.
  4. PDF copy of the A4 chart, that can be used to print further copies if required.
  5. PDF copy of the paper.
  6. The "Calendar" source material: a 75 MB folder containing a summary document and 77 PDF files. They hold 539 pages of material copied from the University calendars, covering 270 years annual entries by student societies between 1866 and 1942 (plus a certain amount of other material)
  7. "Student handbook" source material: a 3.9 GB folder containing a summary document and 75 subfolders, one for each student handbook from between 1896/7 and 1969/70. These folders contain JPG photos of single pages or spreads from the Handbooks - 2356 files (equivalent 3603 pages), covering some 4150 annual entries by student societies, and a substantial body of additional material (OTC, Sports, etc.)


  • Creation: 2017-2021


Conditions Governing Access

The digital files have not been processed yet and therefore are not accessible. Please contact the repository if you would like to consult this collection.

Biographical / Historical

John Martin was born in Oxford in 1940, although he grew up in Northern Ireland and went to school in Belfast. From 1959 to 1965 he attended the University of Edinburgh to study veterinary medicine in a first instance, before switching to psychology, all while staying active in student theatre. After a psychology PhD at Birkbeck, he moved to the MRC Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge, and then spent 30 years in the Open University Systems Group, retiring in 2005. He started working on the history of student theatre in Edinburgh in 2012-13, and found it necessary to support this with subsidiary studies of student numbers and of the development of student societies.


1 folder

2636 digital files

1 USB stick


Immediate Source of Acquisition

SC-Acc-2017-0226 donated by John Martin in 2017.

SC-Acc-2021-0053 donated by John Martin in June 2021.


Accruals likely.


A shortened version of the "Student Numbers" paper appeared in the University of Edinburgh Journal: Martin, John N. T., "Student Numbers at Edinburgh University – 1836 to 2019", University of Edinburgh Journal, 49(4) (2020), pp. 293-302.

Processing Information

Catalogued in November 2021 by Aline Brodin.

Research papers of John Martin concerning the History of Student Theatre at the University of Edinburgh, 2017-2021
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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