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St. Mary's College, Durham, and the Development of Women's Higher Education in England.1895-1952

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  • Economics
  • Education


This thesis focuses on the women students of St. Mary's College, Durham, from the granting of the Supplementary Charter in 1895 admitting women to the university degrees and the subsequent foundation of St. Mary's as a hostel in 1899, through to the move into the new college buildings in 1952. The background to the growth of higher education for women is discussed, as are the general patterns of growth of St. Mary's College, in terms of student numbers. However, a thematic approach rather than a chronological one has been taken. The personal details of every student, as contained in the College register, were entered on a database, and, as a result, comprehensive information about the age, social class, and regional and educational background of the student body is presented. Other themes, such as the financial aid available, the courses studied and the degrees achieved, are also examined, in order to gauge the development of the market for women's higher education. A comparative element has been introduced by the inclusion of information from the contemporary St. Hilda's College, Oxford, founded in 1893. By breaking down the information on both colleges into smaller time periods it is possible to see how the recruitment pattern changed and the effect of national events such as World War and economic depression. The continued constraints upon women students, the numerous rules and regulations governing their lives at college and the male reaction to their presence, are also considered. Finally, investigation into the student's "after-lives", in terms of marital status and career after graduation, demonstrates how higher education affected the employment prospects and social class of the women involved, and allows an assessment to be made of the impact of collegiate based higher education upon the individual.

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