WHAT KIND of passport would you like, in an ideal world? Blue or burgundy? Scottish or British? Or - Glaswegian?

The idea is not that far-fetched – before the First World War, Glasgow DID have the power to issue its own passports.

Nerys Tunnicliffe, archivist with Glasgow City Archives, based at the Mitchell Library, explains: “Prior to World War One, there was no requirement for anyone travelling abroad to have a passport.

“The vast majority travelling overseas had no formal documentation. It was mainly merchants or diplomats who requested passports, and Glasgow had powers to issue them.

“We hold registers of passports issued by the city between 1857 to 1914, recording names and occupations as well as family members accompanying the passport holder, home address and destination.”

Glasgow Times:

Glasgow passport holders included merchant Johann Herman Becker, a naturalised British subject on his way to Russia; and Thomas Mitchell, his wife and three infant daughters plus their two servants Jane Lee and Janet Edgar who went to France.

While libraries remain closed, as part of #glasgowlifegoeson, Nerys and her colleagues Michael Gallagher, Lynsey Green, senior archivist Irene O’Brien and Barbara Neilson, are running Ask the Archivist, which gives people the chance to ask questions about the city collections.

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More details are available on the Glasgow City Archives Facebook page.

Migration records held by Glasgow City Archives include fantastic privately donated photographs of the Italian Gizzi and Crolla families, who ran ice cream and café businesses in Glasgow including the Clyde Café.

Glasgow Times:

“Other sources about the families may be found in valuation rolls and Post Office Directories,” explains Nerys. “We’d love to hear anyone’s memories of their cafés or ice cream carts.”

This picture shows members of the Crolla family collecting blocks of ice from the factory of ice merchants R White in Laird Place in Bridgeton during the 1930s. The Crollas ran the Premier Cafe in Bridgeton’s Main Street.

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“Family members of all generations contributed to the business,” says Nerys. “This meant long, anti-social hours, and only limited contact with people from outwith the Italian community. Italian was spoken in the home, where the family dined together and Italian dishes were preferred...”

Some readers may remember the Derry Boat, or the Scotch Boat.

“These were the Burns and Laird Lines ships, such as the Laird’s Loch, which journeyed between Glasgow and Derry,” explains Nerys. “Holidaymakers and migrants extensively used the service, but unfortunately there are no passenger records. We do have some Burns and Laird ship logs recording voyages though, and some crew members’ details. The Laird’s Loch operated from 1944 until 1966.”