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Helen Lewise Dougal Archive relating to Patrick Geddes and Scots College, Montpellier

 Fonds — Box: CLX-A-1534
Identifier: Coll-2045

Content Description

This fonds consists of material of Helen Lewise Dougal relating to Patrick Geddes and the Scots College in Montpellier. Includes photos (originals and copies), booklets, letters, and a CD containing photos.

  1. Postcards of Sète and Montpellier, 1929.
  2. Article entitled Patrick Geddes in his Montpellier setting by A.D. Peacock, ca 1927.
  3. Print of Patrick Geddes' portrait photograph by R. M. Neill, taken from a book.
  4. Letter from Helen Dougal to her family, dated 4 April 1929, and detailing daily activities on a geographical excursion in Languedoc, also mentioned in item no. 6.
  5. Photograph reproduction and original of group photograph at Montpellier in April 1929, with Helen Dougal in kilt on the left hand side (nicknamed "Shorty").
  6. Notebook of Helen Dougal, detailing her two-week trip to the Scots College in April 1929 for a geographical exploration of Languedoc with thorough notes, little maps, and diagrams.
  7. Letter from Patrick Geddes dated 7 April 1929, to Helen's father, his friend Dr John Wilson Dougal, chemist and geologist, detailing the current state of play with the Scots College, handwritten on a Scots College headed notepaper.
  8. Graduation photograph of Helen Dougal, probably for her Postgraduate Diploma in Geography from the University of Edinburgh in 1928.
  9. Article by Alan Ogilvie on a geographical excursion to Bas Languedoc in July 1928. Ogilvie was one of Helen’s geography teachers on the Postgraduate Diploma in Geography she completed in 1927-28.
  10. Letter to Helen Dougal dated 29 April 1929, from Dr R. N. Radmore Brown (?) of Sheffield University, discussing the aftermath of the trip to Montpellier, and her family ambivalence to her desire to return to the Scots College as a student.
  11. Reference from Alan Ogilvie, Department of Geography, Edinburgh, April 1929. This is a recommendation for becoming a geography teacher.
  12. Application for the George Scott Travelling fund to finance a year at the Scots College, ca 1929. Patrick Geddes offering £40 remission on residency costs.
  13. Reference from Alan Ogilvie discussing possible topics for study at Montpellier and what qualification to go for.
  14. Letter from James F. Macdonald to Helen Dougal's parents pleading her case for return on Patrick Geddes's behalf, undated.
  15. Photocopy of a letter dated 28 August 1929 from James F. Macdonald about the decision for Helen Dougal not to go to Montpellier. He hopes John Dougal, her geologist father, may "find platinum in bulk" in the Outer Hebrides, where he eventually found a vein of flinty crush rock running through the islands for which he received a doctorate.
  16. Photocopy of a memoir fragment dated 1934, including an account by James Macdonald of Patrick Geddes as a child, describing him as "a wee laddie in a kilt, wha was aye in a hurry."’
  17. Contents Summary of the book Patrick Geddes et le Collège des Écossais, la colline et le monde by Marion Geddes and Jean-Paul Andrieu, 20199; and photocopies of page from the book (?) with the biographies of Helen Dougal, Arthur Geddes, and Edward McGegan. Both documents in French.
  18. Prospectus for the Scots College, session 1931-1932.

Also includes a photograph archive on DVD (not currently accessible due to technical requirements), including:

  1. Helen Dougal in a play, bottom row, far right.
  2. Helen Dougal at home in a garden of St Anne’s bank, Spring gardens, Edinburgh.
  3. Graduation, Postgraduate Diploma in Geography, 1928, University of Edinburgh.
  4. Helen Dougal with friends, 2nd left.
  5. Helen Dougal passport photograph.
  6. Group photo at Scots College, Montpellier, 1929. Geography excursion. Helen Dougal in a kilt as “Shorty”.
  7. Photo of newspaper clipping about Patrick Geddes’ death.
  8. Letter from George F. Macdonald to Helen’s father about her not being able to return to Montpellier.
  9. Graduation picture of Helen Dougal, probably for MA University of Edinburgh, 1927.


  • Creation: 1927-1934


Language of Materials


Condition Description

Fair condition overall. Taken out of the plastic pockets and rehoused in polyester sleeves and acid-free paper folders.

Conditions Governing Access

Open. Please contact the repository in advance.

The digital photographs on the DVD are not currently accessible.

Biographical / Historical

Helen Dougal was a student of the University of Edinburgh with a specialism in geography. She received her postgraduate diploma in 1928, and in Easter 1929 she came to Montpellier, France, to do a spring course organised by the National Union of Students. Helen had hopes of coming back to Montpellier to continue her studies at the Collège des Écossais, or Scots College, founded there by Patrick Geddes in 1924. Unfortunately, her family was not able to give her the necessary financial support to take up the bursary offered to her by Patrick Geddes, and after graduating, she trained as a teacher and became a primary teacher. In 1939 she settled down with Colin Brown, before returning to teaching in the 1960s after the death of her husband.

Helen Dougals's father, John Wilson Dougal, was a friend of Patrick Geddes. He was a trained chemist who ran his own business in Edinburgh, but his passion was the geology of the Outer Hebrides, and in 1928 he was awarded an honorary PhD by the University of Edinburgh in recognition of his contribution to the field.


2 folders

1 disc : DVD

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated in October 2021. Accession no. SC-Acc-2021-0081.

Related Materials

Special Collections also hold the Patrick Geddes Collection (Coll-1167).

Condition Description

Fair condition overall. Taken out of the plastic pockets and rehoused in polyester sleeves and acid-free paper folders.

Processing Information

Catalogued in August 2022 by Aline Brodin, using an inventory supplied by the donor.

Helen Lewise Dougal Archive relating to Patrick Geddes and Scots College, Montpellier, 1927-1934
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