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William Gallacher Memorial Library Archive.

Identifier: Acc.14114

Scope and Contents

The archive includes Gallacher's own personal papers, pamphlets, ephemera, photographs, and personal artifacts, alongside papers concerning the administration of the WGML by librarians Bob Saunders and Audrey Canning.

The core of the archive comprises over 60 special collections donated by fellow activists or amassed by WGML librarian Audrey Canning in the course of her work, to facilitate future research and scholarship. These additions were primarily made to the WGML between 1968-2013.

The archive, across the three sub-fonds, contains correspondence, research papers, official documents, ephemera, photographs, artifacts, audiovisual material, reproductions and photocopies, and covers a wide range of subject matter based on working class history and left-wing politics. Topics include trade union history; 'Red Clydeside'; the 1926 General Strike; the Spanish Civil War; Scottish labour history; women's labour history; the Suffrage Movement; Communist Party history; the Irish Labour Movement; workers' literature, theatre, and art; and the Campaign for a Scottish Assembly.

Material created by or referencing notable individuals is also present, including John Maclean (1879-1923); Mary Barbour (1875-1958); Helen Crawfurd (1877-1954); Mary Docherty (1908-2000); Agnes McLean (1918-1994); and Pat Devine (1898-1973), amongst many others.


  • Creation: 1890s-2010s

Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply (subject to data protection concerns). Where specific restrictions apply they are indicated against the relevant entry in the manuscript. Further information on specific restrictions may be obtained from the Archives and Manuscript Division (

Conditions Governing Access

When ordering from this collection please ensure that the relevant part of the collection (Administrative Papers, Gallagher Papers, or Special Collections) is referenced in the order form. For example, to order the letters of William Gallacher to Paisley Daily Express, 1950-1965, use the reference 'Acc.14114 Gallacher Papers 1/4'; or, to order letters of the Scottish Labour History Society Committee to Audrey Canning concerning committee meetings and events, 1986-1990, use the reference 'Acc.14114 Administrative Papers 1/23'.

Please also ensure that the smallest part in any series is ordered for consultation. For example, to order photographs from the Mary Barbour collection use the reference 'Acc.14114 Special Collections 1/4/1', rather than 'Acc.14114 Special Collections 1/4'.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply (subject to any copyright restrictions). Where specific restrictions apply they are indicated against the relevant entry in the manuscript. Further information on specific restrictions may be obtained from the Archives and Manuscript Division (


165 Boxes

Language of Materials



The archive has been arranged into three sub-fonds, respecting the original creation and use of the WGML.

1. Papers of and relating to William 'Willie' Gallacher

2. Special collections

3. Administrative papers of the William Gallacher Memorial Library

Custodial History

The WGML was founded in December 1968 as a tribute to the life and work of the Paisley-born politician, activist and trade unionist William Gallacher (1881-1965), a key figure in the Communist Party of Great Britain, and the trade union and labour movements of the 20th & 21st centuries. Based on Gallacher's own library of 2000+ books, the Memorial Library also grew to contain a large archival component, which forms the heart of this collection. Printed material from the Memorial Library has been transferred to the department of printed books.

Custodial timeline:

1968 - WGML established in Gallacher House, Albert Road, Glasgow.

1979 - Library moves to 44 Carlton Place, Glasgow (premises of the Communist Party in Scotland) and officially opens there on 23 May 1980. Is renamed as the 'Scottish Communist Party Library'.

1987 - Library moves to Woodlands Terrace, Glasgow (headquarters of the Scottish Trades Union Congress - STUC) and becomes the 'William Gallacher Memorial Library' once again.

1997 - Library is transferred to Glasgow Caledonian University Library.

2017 - Library is assigned and donated to the National Library of Scotland by custodian and librarian Audrey Canning, whereupon the printed book collection was added to the National Library's General Collections Division, and the accompanying archival component transferred to the Archives & Manuscript Division.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Assigned and donated by Audrey Canning, Glasgow, 2017.

Related Materials

Printed material associated with the archive has been transferred to the NLS General Collections Division.

An additional series of Willie Gallacher’s personal papers was collected by the archives of the Communist Party of Great Britain at their London offices and in the homes of Party librarians. They are now held in the Labour History Archive and Study Centre in Manchester. They include files relating both to his parliamentary work and to his time as party chairman between 1950 and 1956.

Elsewhere, Hull University Archives, Hull History Centre holds 16 manuscript items on William Gallacher, found amongst the papers of Robin Page Arnot, another leading member of the Communist Party.

In addition, National Library of Scotland Acc.5659 contains exhibits, photographs and caption descriptions from an historical exhibition of the Scottish Labour History Society based on the life and times of William Gallacher.

Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
0131 623 3700