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Poverty in Glasgow

YOU ARE IN: Human History; Glasgow History; Glasgow Domestic and Personal Life Poverty in Glasgow

Glasgow Museums has a collection of 250 objects related to poverty in Glasgow which date from between 1722 and 1990.

This collection includes paintings, drawings, prints and photographs, ceramics, pawn tickets and a pawnbroker's sign. It also contains beggars' badges, tokens, housing tickets, bed sheets, banners, regalia, certificates, collecting boxes and a bed. It represents the experience of poverty faced by many in the city with items, such as the bed sheets made out of flour bags, reflecting the necessity of 'making ends meet'. Many items come from organizations set up to alleviate the effects of poverty before the establishment of the welfare state. These include friendly societies, the church and other charitable organizations. A number were also collected from Barnhill Poorhouse. The 19th century fashion for images of Glasgow 'street characters', who were mainly poor and disabled, also represents an aspect of poverty and living on the streets.

Glasgow was known as the 'second City of the Empire' in the 19th century and was one of the most prosperous cities in Europe. The Industrial Revolution saw the Glasgow's population expand rapidly as industries, ranging from textiles to glass-making, grew. Heavy industry followed with the development of shipbuilding and engineering. However, while the Great Exhibitions of 1888 and 1901 represented the city's wealth, many of its people were living below or on the poverty line.