Education, College Women and Suffrage: International Perspectives Conference 13-14 June 2018

Wellesley group in Suffrage parade in Philadelphia ,1915
Suffrage Parade (© Trustees for Wellesley College). Students march for suffrage in Philadelphia (1915),  College Women Open Access Portal: Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education

Calling all Researchers, Lecturers, School Teachers, Archivists, Curators, and Heritage Professionals with interests in education and suffrage!  As a result of generous funding from the History of Education Society, we have extended our Call For Papers deadline and are now able to offer student bursaries (see below for details).  We are also currently exploring options to help support individual or group presentations by Teachers.  So do get get writing and send your proposals to Conference Administrator  Alexandra.Hughes-Johnson.2013@live.rhul.ac.uk by Monday 27th November.  Our conference website will be going live very soon, but if you have any questions or concerns please contact Alex, or Bedford Centre co-Director Nicola Phillips, we are happy to help.

We are also delighted to announce that our Keynote Speakers will be:

Eric Pumroy, Director of Special Collections & the Albert M. Greenfield Digital Centre for the History Of Women’s Education (Bryn Mawr, USA) and former Director Jennifer Redmond, (Maynooth University, Ireland) who will speak about education, suffrage and their work on the Seven Sisters’ College Women: Documenting the History of Women in Higher Education portal.

Kay Whitehead, Professor of Education, (Flinders University, Australia) who will give a presentation on transnational teacher education and suffrage in Australia and Britain.

As part of  a Royal Holloway college wide series of events to commemorate suffrage at Royal Holloway in 2018, the Bedford Centre for the History of Women  teamed up with Winchester’s Centre for the History of Women’s Education to organise this international, interdisciplinary conference exploring the links between education and suffrage campaigns and the roles of college women in them.  The idea grew out of the Bedford Centre’s new project to digitise Bedford and Royal Holloway college student archive documents relating to suffrage (so watch this space for more about this fascinating new material!), which will be launched at the conference. Which is why we also want to highlight the existence and educational uses of similar material, textual and digital collections around the world.

We are running the conference over 13-14th June to commemorate the funeral of Royal Holloway Alumna Emily Wilding Davison after whom our stunning new library, which opened this month has been named.  Fellow RHUL alumnae attended her funeral procession, including Rose Lamartine Yates who was the first guard of honour to Emily Wilding Davison’s coffin.  She is pictured below, having tea with friends in her college room.

Rose Lamartine Yates in Study

Rose Lamartine Yates (bottom left) with friends in her study at Royal Holloway c. 1900.    RHC PH/271/3  [Copyright Royal Holloway Archives]

CALL FOR PAPERS

Pioneers of women’s higher or further education in different countries both supported and distanced themselves from contemporary suffrage campaigns for a range of reasons. Women who had benefitted from a college education that had introduced them to ideas of equality, democracy and citizenship also joined both sides of the suffrage debate as evidenced in letters, diaries, newspaper reports and other ephemera. The debates took place within nations and on the international stage, and college women travelled extensively in their private and professional lives exchanging views through their correspondence and in their memories.

The conference will provide a forum for those involved in teaching and researching suffrage and the history of women’s education (in schools, HE and heritage institutions) to discuss new directions. We invite submissions in a range of formats by archivists, public historians, researchers, curators and teachers to explore and discuss the under-researched links between education and suffrage.  Presentations may draw on a range of sources as they relate to the intersection of education and suffrage, including the use and interpretation of digital archives and material sources for research or educational purposes.

Proposals of c. 300 words are welcome for 10 or 20 minute individual presentations, or for workshops, panels, symposia, or posters on the themes of (but not limited to):

Histories
College Women’s engagement with suffrage or anti-suffrage
Institutional attitudes and responses to suffrage
Alumnae networks, Associations and suffrage
College Women’s inter/trans-national suffrage connections

Heritage
Oral histories of education and suffrage
School and College magazines
Public Histories of suffrage and education
Educational archives and suffrage
Memorialising suffrage and college heritage

Teaching and Learning
Citizenship, Education and Suffrage
Education and Suffrage in film, music, drama and fiction
Using and accessing digital archives of education and suffrage
Teaching suffrage beyond national boundaries
Creating innovative suffrage resources & activities

Student Bursaries:  To apply please send your 300 wd proposal, plus a 1 page CV and supporting letter from your Supervisor or Lecturer.

The conference organisers very much look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to Royal Holloway’s historic campus,

Dr Nicola Phillips and Dr Alex Windscheffel (Royal Holloway, University of London), Prof. Stephanie Spencer and Prof Joyce Goodman (University of Winchester)

 

 

 

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‘Mary Toft’s Monstrous Births of 1726: Then and Now’

mary-toft

William Hogarth, ‘Cunucularii or the wise men of Godlimen in consultation’ (1726) Wellcome Library no. 17342i

The Annual Bedford Centre Lecture 2017

By Professor Karen Harvey, University of Sheffield

Thursday 2nd February, 6-8pm Moore Building Auditorium

at Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, Surrey

Click here to listen to a podcast of the lecture and view Karen slides

It is also available on our Podcast Resources page

In 1726 Mary Toft gave birth to seventeen rabbits or parts of rabbits in Godalming, Surrey. Toft had looked at the animals during her pregnancy and their image was imprinted on her foetus. Based on new research, Karen’s engaging presentation explores why so many contemporaries, including eminent male Physicians, believed in the hoax.  Many portrayed Toft as a devious woman who set out to hoodwink the doctors and make her fortune, yet this lecture offers other explanations for the extraordinary actions of Toft and her family.  It also explores the social, physical and emotional experiences Toft underwent in the contexts of the work of contemporary midwives, gynaecologists and reproductive medicine.

The Bedford Centre is particularly delighted to welcome back Karen Harvey, who is a Royal Holloway alumna and started her career as a student on the MA in Women’s and Gender History.

Karen is now a Professor of Cultural History at the University of Sheffield and her numerous publications include The Little Republic: Masculinity and Domestic Authority in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Oxford University Press, 2012) which is Open Access and available to read online, and Reading Sex in the Eighteenth Century: Bodies and Gender in English Erotic Culture (Cambridge University Press, January 2004).  Karen works on material culture and is committed to the public understanding of History and the past. She has been Academic in Residence at Bank Street Arts, in Sheffield, since 2012.

This engaging public lecture is free (no booking required) and everyone is  warmly invited to to join us for a wine reception afterwards.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Interwar Visitors to Royal Holloway

Taking tea next to the tennis courts with Founders building behind in the 1920s. With permission from Royal Holloway Archives

Taking tea in the 1920s, next to the tennis courts with Founders Building behind. [Image: Royal Holloway Archives]

We are delighted to welcome our guest student blogger, George Severs, who took time out from his final year studies to explore some little known sources in Royal Holloway’s Archives with some surprising results ….

Recently, I embarked on a minor research effort to find out whether or not Unity Mitford had visited Royal Holloway in 1937, knowing that she had been to Egham to drop her childhood nanny Laura Dicks (Blor to the Mitfords) off on holiday with her family. As I expected, there is no record of Unity Mitford or Blor in the Royal Holloway archive, but this search posed more questions than I had originally expected. Namely, how much do we know about interwar visitors to Royal Holloway College, and how do we know it?

There are two major sources which inform our knowledge of the College’s visitors during the interwar period: the Royal Holloway Visitors’ Book, and the Picture Gallery Visitors’ Book. Similar though they may sound, these two volumes are markedly different.

The Royal Holloway Visitors’ Book is a grandiose, lacquered tome, spanning the years 1887 to 1984 which holds the signatures of many members of the royal family and other esteemed visitors. Its interwar entries alone include the signatures of Queen Mary and Princess Helena Victoria both of whom visited in 1937, and the chairman of the London County Council who visited in 1939. Entries from these VIPs were often permitted an entire page for their entry.

The Picture Gallery Visitors’ Book, by contrast, is a worn ink-stained volume, full of entries. This book would have been accessible to the general public on days when the Picture Gallery was open to public visitors, which, during the interwar period, would have been Wednesdays and occasional Saturdays.

At first glance, then, we might assume that the Visitors’ Book was reserved for grand, often state occasions, whilst the Picture Gallery equivalent was available to the general public. Largely true though this is, closer consultation of both volumes yields a few unexpected entries.

Whilst entries of visitors to the Picture Gallery do overwhelmingly paint a picture of family outings and local visitors during the interwar period, there are a few remarkable exceptions. Tucked away just below one Hilda Price from Addlestone we find the signature of H. G. Wells, author of The War of the Worlds. Quite why he visited the Picture Gallery in August 1937, seemingly by himself, we do not know. What is interesting, however, is the lack of spectacle made of his visit, since Wells was well known internationally by 1937. Perhaps this points to the fact that the College’s managing parties were most, if not singularly concerned with titled and regal patrons, something which has gone largely unchanged.

Entry recording the visit of H. G. Wells. RHCAR/501/1. Image: George J. Severs

Entry recording the visit of H. G. Wells. RHCAR/501/1. Image: George J. Severs

 

More surprising, and indicative of the College’s seeming lack of interest in non-royal visits, is an entry from May 26th 1938 which records the visit of a 500 strong delegation from the League of Nations, “about 100 of which signed this book”. As you may imagine, the College archivist and myself were quite astonished when I discovered this. Neither of us had any idea that this event had occurred, not least, perhaps, because it is quite literally squashed at the bottom of a page.

Entry recording the visit of the League of Nations delegation. RHCAR/501/1. Image: George J. Severs

Entry recording the visit of the League of Nations delegation. RHCAR/501/1. Image: George J. Severs

 

The Visitors’ Book also contains entries which seem to go against the supposed grain of the volume. Ordinary, local people have their entries in the book, though a great deal less frequently. We do not yet know how, when and where this book was kept during public occasions, but it is safe to assume that it was infrequently available for the public to sign.

Both of these visitors’ books, then, tell us fairly extraordinary things about the people who visited the College between the wars. We know of the queens, princesses, and the politically powerful men who came, but what of the ‘ordinary’ women? Royal Holloway was, after all, a women’s college, and my search had originally been for a woman (though, admittedly, not an ordinary one).

A great many women visited Royal Holloway during the 1920s and 1930s, and the visitors’ books go some way in telling us about how women negotiated the College as a public space. Entries, particularly those in the Picture Gallery Visitors’ Book, suggest that women tended to visit the College in groups, whilst men like H.G. Wells, more often visited alone. Whether they were local, like Mrs Butler and Mrs Bauchamp (both from Egham, visiting on September 10th 1936), or foreign visitors, such as a group from Paris visiting in June 1937, female visitors overwhelmingly came in groups.

As sources, the books are of course imperfect. We know very little about when, where and how exactly they were used, and often even less about the signatories themselves, hence they remain overlooked by most people. Yet, as this blog post has suggested, they can also offer valuable insights into the ways in which women (and men) visited the College during the interwar period, as well as the range of better known guests.

If you know anyone who visited Royal Holloway and why they did so please do let us know.

George J. Severs is a finalist in the Department of History at Royal Holloway, University of London, and an Undergraduate Liaison Officer at the Bedford Centre for the History of Women.