Page created by Louise Messik: 24 October 2010
Latest revision or update: 12 December 2011

JEWISH CHILDREN AT THE GORBALS PUBLIC SCHOOL 1885-1905
© Jeanette R Rosenberg

 


Gorbals Public School Admissions Registers. Boys and Girls. Volume 1 1885-1905

Introduction

This is a database of the Jewish children who attended the Gorbals Public School between 1885 and 1905. It uses data transcribed from the boys and girls school admissions registers held at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow, Scotland, www.mitchelllibrary.org. The Mitchell Library holds four volumes of admissions registers for the Gorbals School, two volumes each for the boys and two for the girls. Volume 1 covers the years 1885-1905 and volume two holds the records from 1905 to 1919. Girls’ volume 1 contains 5402 pupil records and boys’ volume 1 contains 5432 pupil records.
 


An inside view of the Gorbals Public School Register

More about the Database

The database sits as a companion to Harvey Kaplan’s 2006 publication “The Gorbals Jewish Community in 1901” and the Historical Database of Scottish Jewry (HDSJ) at the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre (SJAC), www.sjac.org.uk as a resource for those researching immigrant Jewish ancestry.

In all likelihood, the data in the registers contains some errors, because the initial information was provided by non-English speakers to people who were unfamiliar with the spelling of Jewish and particularly Eastern European names and who could not verify the data fully, also because not all register entries were fully legible.

Some children are clearly in the database more than once, if they left and then returned to the school sometime later. It was also found that from time to time entries for girls could be found in the boys’ book, and vice versa. Normally the erroneous entries were duplicated in the correct book and then struck from the register, however within the data, there is one example of a boy being listed within the girls register, whose entry was not duplicated in the other register.

What can I find out from this database?

Genealogically speaking, what makes this database of interest are the snapshots of detail about the lives of the Gorbals Public School pupils. Frequently, the register notes previous schools which range from those elsewhere in the Gorbals, through, elsewhere in Scotland, Britain, or abroad. Schools in towns and cities through Britain were concentrated in those areas with established Jewish communities, which were predominantly also ports and centres of migration, such as London, Hull, and Liverpool. Foreign locations included Russia, (with the precise location of Wilna in one case), Austria, Germany and even America in another, reflecting the migratory nature of Glasgow’s Jews. Unsurprisingly the destinations of many of those leaving Gorbals Public School were similar.

Although many pupils departures from Gorbals Public School went unrecorded in the register, or they left to start work, testifying they were old enough to do so, it was interesting to note how few pupils left on grounds of ill health, irrespective of the poverty in which they lived. Also how many moved home within their local area and that for many, their next destination was America.

By using the data collected, it is possible to find detailed information about Jewish families whose children attended Gorbals Public School. Not only can this data be used to reconstitute families over a period of time using records other than vital records, but also some of the families whose data is contained here may have both arrived and left Glasgow between censuses, only staying long enough for their children to attend school for a short time. The data can also be particularly useful for tracing those born abroad, or who migrated afterwards, because frequently it contains exact dates of birth and other details not available elsewhere.

The detailed information available within the registers, such as precise dates of birth for most children, is particularly useful for tracing those born abroad. This level of detail is far greater than is otherwise available in census and migration records, and can be invaluable in facilitating further research, particularly in Eastern Europe, where many genealogists find data access and genealogical research complex. Having access to exact birth dates can also assist in honing in on particular individuals or families in other immigration, emigration and transmigration records, especially where family naming patterns are very similar.

Jewish Immigration to Glasgow

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, countless Jewish immigrants settled in Glasgow, although many later moved elsewhere, and a very high proportion of the children at Gorbals Public School were Jewish. Jewish immigrants to Glasgow arrived, from Germany, Austro-Hungary and The Pale of Settlement.

Most Jewish Glaswegians arrived initially in England, and then came north because Jews were encouraged to Glasgow to help ease congestion in Jewish East London. The first immigrant wave arrived in the 1880s forming the poorer Gorbals section of the community and the next came in the 1890s. In 1908 about 10,000 Jews passed through Glasgow en route to America and during peak activity, up to 4 US-bound ships left Glasgow each month. 75% of Glasgow Jews were of Russian or Polish origin, with relatively few from elsewhere, but by 1891, Jews from Lithuanian Baltic Ports like Libau dominated.

School Log Books and Admittance Registers

The 1872 Scottish Education Act made school attendance compulsory for children aged 5-13 and admissions registers are a good source of information about pupils, because teachers were obliged to keep registers and daily logs of school occurrences. Few early registers and logs survive and the value of the information they contain depends on the thoroughness of those completing them. The registers are invaluable because even if a family was only in Scotland for a few months, the children would have attended school to learn English and to get them out from under their parents’ feet during the day, and there cannot have been many Jewish children who escaped the school system completely. Admission Registers can include pupil information such as date of birth, address, date of admission and date of leaving.

Gorbals Public School

Gorbals Public School opened in 1885 enrolling many pupils who had previously been at Buchan Street School, but after this, most pupils were new starters at school. The numbers of Jewish boys and girls were roughly equal over the period and rose considerably from 1896 onwards. School attendance figures depended on birth rates and Glaswegian Jewish immigration peaked in 1891-2, which partly explains the rise in school entrants thereafter.

Gorbals Public School contained a high number of Jewish children who all lived locally. The school logbooks have notes in the margins written by the Head Teacher about the low attendance by Jewish pupils at school during Jewish festivals. In this database, the children selected for inclusion as Jewish follow the criteria outlined by Kaplan (2006, p5-6), whereby Jewish is defined in the wider sense rather than by Orthodox specifications.

The children attending the school lived in the surrounding area and were concentrated in the closest streets. Most of the Jewish Pupils lived in the following streets: Adelphi, Thistle, Main, Stockwell, Crown, Bridgegate, Hospital, Govan, Nicholson, Oxford and Rose.

How can I search this database?

To search the database, go to the JewishGen UK Database page http://www.jewishgen.org/databases/UK/ and select the Glasgow community in the JGSGB UK Database.
Search for the family names you are researching. If the search yields results for the name you are searching, the results will show "Gorbals Public School Registers ".


Context

This work was carried out in 2008 by Jeanette R Rosenberg in fulfilment of the Postgraduate Certificate in Genealogical Studies at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland www.strath.ac.uk/genealogy.

If you have a question or are interested in reading more information about the project are invited to contact Jeanette. Please note, Jeanette does not have any additional information about the people whose names are held within the database.


Jeanette would like to thank the following for support during the research and writing of her project:

Mark Nicholls, for photography, and assisting with transcription;
Harvey Kaplan, Director, Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, for encouragement and signposting;
Dr Nicholas Evans, Hull University, whose lectures about transmigration inspired this project;
Dr Irene O’Brien and her colleagues at The Mitchell, who permitted this project to proceed and made us welcome during transcription.
Audrey Wyper, Dr Bruce Durie and Graham Holton of Strathclyde University, for their support and guidance during the project.
 

 
 

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