The Literary Bond of Free Anderston Church Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Society, Vol. 2, October 1862 (©CSG CIC Glasgow Museums and Libraries Collection: The Mitchell Library, Special Collections, Mitchell (AL) 891310)


Literary Bonds is a project that provides a publicly-available website containing a bibliographic list along with contextualised information on approximately 90 historical periodicals from the long nineteenth century (here defined as 1800 to 1914). It is devoted solely to the magazines that were produced by literary societies, and mutual improvement societies more broadly, from across Scotland and England, the majority of which were produced in manuscript.

Mutual improvement society magazines were produced by and for society members. On the whole, these magazines are miscellanies containing a variety of contributions that can include original fiction and non-fiction essays, reviews, poetry (original as well as transcribed), puzzles and games, and even music.

With a small number of exceptions, only one manuscript copy of each issue was ever produced as it was a time-consuming venture for the contributors as well as the editors that could also consume a society’s rather limited budget. Where mutual improvement society magazines were published, it was almost certainly the case that the group had access to greater resources or a generous benefactor which allowed them to put their magazines into print.

The magazines’ circulation, in principle, was usually confined to group members. This was almost certainly not the case for a great number of these magazines: from the evidence left by their readers, we know that members often shared the magazines with friends and family, and the circulation of these periodicals could extend well beyond the communities in which they were founded, with some magazines being circulated across the country.

This website provides an invaluable resource for teaching Scottish and English social and cultural history, and working-class responses to and the production of literature. One of the aims of sharing this research is to encourage and stimulate new studies on ‘improving’ societies locally and internationally by facilitating access to resources.

This project has been generously funded by the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals (RSVP) (http://rs4vp.org/), and is hosted by the University of Strathclyde.

Copyright and Permissions

This project is a non-profit bibliographical resource created for use for research and educational purposes. It aims to encourage people to engage with the archival and library resources available in their own communities. We hope that academics, teachers, students, archivists, library and museum professionals, and local and family historians in Scotland, England and internationally will enjoy exploring and using this site.

The text on this website is based on doctoral research conducted by Dr Lauren Weiss, and research conducted subsequently by Weiss, Prof Kirstie Blair, Dr Michael Sanders, with additional research for all Dundee magazines by Erin Farley (Library & Information Officer, Local History Centre, Dundee Central Library), all of which is copyrighted. Permission is granted to reproduce the text (i.e. the downloadable PDFs) for personal and educational use only. Commercial copying is prohibited. Textual material may not be published in any form without direct written permission from the Project Editors. Where this work is cited for non-profit, academic and research purposes, it should be credited as follows: Lauren Weiss, Kirstie Blair, and Michael Sanders (or, for Dundee magazines, Erin Farley), eds., Literary Bonds <https://www.literarybonds.org/> [date when website was accessed].

Permission for the use of all the images on this website has been granted for use solely on the site. The copyright remains with the respective archives, libraries and individual societies as cited on the webpages on which they appear and may not be reproduced in any form.