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Treasure 35: Notes and Jottings of G.M. Fraser
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Treasure 35: Notes and Jottings of G.M. Fraser

Historic Photographs
David Oswald
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Treasure 35: Notes and Jottings of G.M. Fraser
Historic Photographs
Treasure 35: Notes and Jottings of G.M. Fraser
George Milne Fraser had a lifelong interest and expertise in local history; delivering talks (as seen in the December 2015 Treasure), publishing books and numerous letters and articles in the local press. His 'Notes and Jottings' collection comprise over 70 volumes, mostly hand written (including a form of shorthand), which are a treasure trove of information about the local area.

Within these notebooks are newspaper articles and advertisements, photographs, personal correspondence, sketches and many other interesting bits and pieces. Library staff have compiled an index to this invaluable resource and consult it on a regular basis when researching enquiries. It is quite a challenge deciphering his handwriting sometimes!

As a journalist by profession, G. M. Fraser retained his talent for writing and contributed articles to the Aberdeen Free Press, Bon Accord and Northern Pictorial, Evening Gazette, and journals such as the Deeside Field.

His contributions to local literature began in 1904 with the publication of The Green. Historical Aberdeen appeared the following year and after Aberdeen Street Names in 1911 the Town Clerk Depute wrote to Fraser with the words "We must now regard you as our Principal Historian".

The Life and Work of G. M. Fraser
G. M. Fraser was appointed city librarian in 1899 and was the second public librarian in Aberdeen. He can be seen on the far right of this image from the library archive.

His name was known all over the north east and he was mentioned in the chorus of one of Harry Gordon's popular songs, The Auldest Aiberdonian: "I ken lots o' stories G. M. Fraser disna ken". On 30 October 1923 he gave a 15 minute talk on the radio about Castlegate, becoming the first librarian in Aberdeen to make a radio broadcast.

During his term of office there were many developments in the Library service:

- The Central Library was extended in 1905 to include a new reading room
- Branch reading rooms and delivery stations were established throughout the city
- The Juvenile Library in Skene Street opened in 1911
- Open access was introduced in the Lending Library 1925 (find out more about Open Access libraries in the October treasures!)
- Fraser's strongest legacy is the Local Studies collection, which still contains many of our treasures.

G. M. Fraser was remembered very fondly after his death on 7 June 1938. There were many tributes including one from the Library Committee. Perhaps one of the warmest tributes was paid by his successor as City Librarian, Marcus Milne:
"Somehow the Library and G.M. were one. You could not think of the Library without thinking of that kindly figure who was head of it; and one could not meet him without thinking of the building he graced for so long. Mr Fraser had 2 hobbies and work was both of them. He lived for nothing else. The library was ever uppermost in his thoughts and closely allied to his love for the Library was his great love for things Aberdeen".

Mr Fraser's funeral service was attended by many prominent city officials and floral wreaths included one from Lady Aberdeen with the inscription "In affectionate and grateful remembrance of a much valued friend". He is buried in Springbank Cemetery.

In 1955, Aberdeen's first post-war permanent branch library was opened at Northfield and named the G. M. Fraser Branch Library in his honour.

In further recognition of his contribution to the development of the Library service, a commemorative plaque can be found on the front of the Central Library building.
Aberdeen Local Studies
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