'A close behind No 136 Saltmarket', Glasgow, 1868.
© National Media Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Saltmarket Street crosses the High Street, which started at the east end of Glasgow where the majority of the city's slum housing was located. Overcrowding and poor sanitation made for high mortality rates caused by infection and disease. Thomas Annan was a Scottish photographer who lived for most of his life in Glasgow, where he established a studio in 1855. In 1868 the City of Glasgow Improvement Trust approached Annan to take photographs of some of the slum areas of the city prior to demolition. The resulting images are some of the earliest examples of documentary photography. Thomas Annan was the father of James Craig Annan (1864-1946), a noted pictorial photographer and member of the 'Linked Ring'.