About The Bedford Centre

Bedcoll Logo

Front cover of Bedford College Magazine, depicting Minerva, goddess of wisdom, December 1898.

The Bedford Centre for the History of Women supports research into the history of women and gender, and celebrates the proud history of women in education at Bedford College and Royal Holloway University. The Bedford Centre also promotes research into public histories of women and gender, and supports projects that aim to bring these histories to diverse audiences.

We are interested in all aspects of women’s and gender history, and aim to promote projects that look at how gender identities intersect with class, race, religion, health and ability, and sexuality. We aim to inspire discussions about women in the past that relate to current debates and to build links between historians, feminists and anyone interested in women’s and gender history outside the academy. We are keen to engage with the media, museums, heritage organisations, online communities and particularly schools, to develop women’s history resources for the curriculum.

The Bedford Centre was founded by Lyndal Roper and Amanda Vickery in 1999 and is currently co-directed by Jane Hamlett, Stella Moss and Nicola Phillips, and coordinated by Zoe Thomas. You can find out more about staff and students at The Bedford Centre here.

About Bedford College

Commemorative Plaque at Bedford Square, London. [Image: WikiCommons]

Commemorative Plaque at Bedford Square, London. [Image: WikiCommons]

Bedford College was founded in 1849 by Elizabeth Jesser Reid, a social reformer and anti-slavery activist, and was the first Higher Education college for women in Great Britain. It was located on Bedford Square, London, where a commemorative plaque now marks the pioneering work of the college and Jesser Reid.

Royal Holloway was opened as a women’s college in 1886. Both colleges became co-educational in 1965 and they merged to form ‘Royal Holloway and Bedford New College’ in 1985. You can view a timeline of our history here.

Many successful and influential women attended Bedford College, including the novelist George Eliot, the first certified woman doctor, Dr Elizabeth Blackwell, and the prominent African American anti-slavery campaigner Sarah Parker Remond. You can find records relating to these women and learn more about the many fascinating documents held in the College Archives by following the links in the Archives section of the menu.