Dr Catriona Burness on looking for Mary Barbour

There will be a Mary Barbour statue.*

The Remember Mary Barbour campaign was launched last year to make sure that the centenary of the 1915 Rent Strikes would see a statue raised in lasting memory of its key leader Mary Barbour.

The campaign won support from the Scottish Parliament and from the councils of Glasgow, scene of the most dramatic points in the Rent Strike, and of Renfrewshire, Mary Barbour’s birthplace.

Mary Barbour’s contribution to social history has been discussed on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, on Newsnight Scotland and on Al Jazeera, and has featured in the Evening Times and The Observer.

2014 is going to be a key year for the campaign as we move into the serious business of identifying sources of funding. My contribution to the campaign will be continuing research support and trying to uncover more information about Mary Barbour.

The archive research that I have done so far has focused on the Govan Press, The Glasgow Herald, clips from the Socialist press, Glasgow Corporation minutes and secondary literature.

And I’ve had help (in alphabetical order) from Councillor James Adams, Professor John Foster, Maria Fyfe, Jean Melvin, Flora Pagan, artist Sharon Thomas and the staff of the Elder Park and Mitchell Libraries and of Glasgow Council Research Centre.

I have contributed to this website’s pages abut Mary Barbour. For me the high points of the research are when I come across something that brings Mary Barbour to life. Helen Crawfurd’s Memoir gives vivid descriptions of how the Rent Strike was organised and underlines Mary Barbour’s key role. If only Mary Barbour had kept a diary! I was interested in the Govan Press first interview with her after she was elected to Glasgow Corporation, struck by her seriousness of purpose and intent to be in the Chambers every day. The later report of her directly organising the sale of small fish in Govan highlights her practical focus!

This year we will draw together education packs putting Mary Barbour in the context of her times. If you have information on Mary Barbour it would be great to hear from you. Please email us at info@remembermarybarbour.com

*As long as we raise enough money! Please help us by donating to the Mary Barbour Campaign.

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