Jean Barr MacDonald Roberts lived from 20 December 1895 to 26 March 1988. She was the first woman to serve as Lord Provost of Glasgow. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.
Jean Weir came from the Springburn area of Glasgow, a centre for heavy industry and known especially for the manufacture of railway engines for export throughout the world. She was educated at Albert School and Whitehill School. After leaving school she trained to be a teacher before taking up a post at the Bishop Street Elementary School. In 1922 she married Cameron Roberts, also a teacher, and they had a daughter together.
Jean Roberts was a socialist by outlook, and both she and her husband were members of the Independent Labour Party. In 1929 she stood for election to Glasgow Corporation as a councillor for the Kingston Ward, an area dominated by docks on the south side of the River Clyde. In 1933 the Labour Group on the Council gained control of the city, and Jean Roberts held a number of positions within the city administration. These included Senior Magistrate in 1936 and City Treasurer in 1952. She became leader of the Labour Group on the City Council in 1955.
In 1960, Jean Roberts became Lord Provost of Glasgow, a post for which she had been nominated a number of times since 1950. As the city's first female Lord Provost she was unique in Scotland until the 1980s. She was made a Dame Commander of the British Empire (the female equivalent of a knighthood) in 1962. She served as a Glasgow City Councillor until 1965, and subsequently became Chairman of the Cumbernauld Development Corporation, a post she held until 1972. Dame Jean Roberts died in Glasgow in 1988.
This biography draws on research first published in "The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women".