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Sholes Glidden Typewriter Keyboard.JPG

Typewriters and Commerce in Scotland, 1870s-1920s

Last updated: 8 February 2022

About the research

Between 1875 and 1910 the sale and use of typewriters in Scotland grew dramatically. While in the mid-1870s few people had even heard of the new-fangled American invention known as the typewriter, by 1900 there were dozens of retailers in the major towns and cities of Scotland that specialised in a whole range of writing machines of the most weird and wonderful designs.

This project utilises the extensive collections of typewriters held in the National Museums Collection Centre in Edinburgh and Glasgow Museum Resource Centre, to shed light on the commercialisation of typewriters in Scotland between 1875 and 1930. By researching the history of these collections, this project will tell the story of the manufacture and marketing of typewriters in Scotland. Actively engaging with these collections will involve cleaning, repairing and operating some of these machines to gain an insight into the practices of typewriter users in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


Lead image: Sholes-Glidden typewriter keyboard.

Doctoral research project details

Project title

Typewriters and Commerce in Scotland, 1870s-1920s


James Inglis

Project active

2017 - present


AHRC Scottish Cultural Heritage Consortium (SCHC) – Collaborative Doctoral Partnership

University of St Andrews Supervisors

Professor Aileen Fyfe and Dr Malcolm Petrie - School of History

National Museums Scotland Supervisors

Dr Sam Alberti and Alison Taubman - Department of Science & Technology

Research theme

Scotland's Material Heritage

The Typewriter Revolution James Inglis With An Oliver Landscape Credit Neil Hanna 1200 X 774 1

Re-typing History

Read James Inglis's blog post about the Sholes-Glidden Typewriter and the QWERTY Keyboard.

Find out more
Email icon Dr Sam Alberti, FRSE

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