Red Clydeside: A history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932


Proletarian song book, June 1923

published by Proletarian Bookstall (Glasgow)

image from Red Clydeside collection

Tom Anderson, member of the Marxist SDF (Social Democratic Federation) and trusted political ally and close friend of John Maclean, was the person responsible for establishing the Proletarian Sunday Schools in Glasgow. The Proletarian Schools were run on a similar basis to traditional sunday schools but with the emphasis on the teachings of Marx and revolutionary Socialism. At their peak of popularity in the early 1920s the schools had over 30 branches in cities and towns throughout Scotland and several in England.

From the late 19th century onwards a small but significant radical and revolutionary infrastructure was in existence in Scotland. The work of these groups included the publication of newspapers, magazines, pamphlets and books which both propagated and stimulated the development of revolutionary ideas. Educational activities separate from the state system were organised including Socialist Sunday schools and later the Proletarian Sunday schools and also the National Council of Labour Colleges. There were also cultural and recreational activities such as the Workers' Music Association and the Clarion Cycle Club.

The aim of all these educational, cultural and social activities was to provide a counterbalance to the perceived wisdom of industrial capitalism as well as influencing people to move in a revolutionary direction and helping to sustain their commitment on a long-term basis.

Source: Bissett Collection, Glasgow University Special Collections