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Archives and Special Collections: Tait and Watson Political Papers

Collection information

Collection: Tait and Watson Political Papers

Collection ref.:

Archives: MS 0559 / MS 41

Pamphlets: Classmarks 'Tait Pamphlet' and 'Watson Pamphlet'

Biographical History:

The Tait and Watson Collections are two large collections of early left-wing political material. In 1978 William Tait, son of the Scottish socialist pioneer Thomas Tait, donated a large number of pamphlets, newspapers, books and archives (many relating to his fathers political activities) to the university library. William Watson, who was a welder on Clydeside, collected left-wing books, pamphlets and newspapers all his life. His collection extends from purchases made in the aftermath of the First World War up to the 1960s. The library purchased the collection in 1970. Thomas Tait and William Watson were close friends. Between the wars, Tait was politically active in Edinburgh and Watson in Glasgow.


The collections comprise 3,000 pamphlets, 340 newspapers titles and over 2,000 books. The uncatalogued archives include the minute and letter books, correspondence and literature of a number of small left-wing political parties (both national organisations and Edinburgh branches): Democratic Federation (1883-); Socialist League (1884-); Socialist Land and Labour League (1884-); Social Democratic Federation (1885); Socialist Labour Party (1903-); British Section of the International Socialist Labour Party (1912-1937); Revolutionary Socialist Party (1936-1941); Militant Labour League (1937-1938); Revolutionary Socialist League (1938-39); Independent Labour Party (1893-); Revolutionary Communist Party (1944-1949).

Extent: 470 boxes

Catalogue information

Please note that much of the archive material in the collection remains uncatalogued. A summary list is available above.

The book and pamphlet collections have been fully catalogued and are available on the library catalogue.

The following guides to the collection are available for consultation in the archives reading room:

  • ‘A hand-list of anarchist and related material in the Watson collection’ (University of Stirling, 1976)
  • ‘The Tait Pamphlet Collection in Stirling University Library: A checklist’ (University of Stirling, 1983)
  • ‘A checklist of the newspapers in the Tait collection’ (University of Stirling, 1988)
  • ‘A checklist of the newspapers and periodicals in the Tait and Watson collections’ (University of Stirling, 1990)

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Using the collection

Archives Reading Room

Opening Hours:

10.00 am - 1.00 pm / 2.00 pm - 4.00 pm

Monday - Friday (by appointment only)

Contact us:

Tel. 01786 466619


Please contact us in advance of your visit by emailing