The ‘Death’ of Women-Only Education: Will anyone talk to me? Will too many people want to talk to me?

founding sign Bedford square

Plaque at 48 Bedford Square, London (originally 47).  Photo:  Alex Adams.

Through research for my other Royal Holloway and Bedford New College themed project, I have learned that the women of Bedford College have a lot to say.  That being said, the alumni office has yet to return any of my emails, which makes me a little nervous, but also tells me to find a phone number.  Due to the fact that Bedford alumnae seem to be quite feisty, I think I’m going to narrow my research down to just focus on Bedford as there doesn’t seem to be many people who could speak on behalf of both schools.  I am further interested in Bedford because I feel she is not showcased enough at Royal Holloway and I would like to make her more well-known to today’s generation of students.


Bedford College Crest in Regent’s Park.  Photo:  Alex Adams.

I would personally like the interview to tell me more about Bedford College:  the history, the student life, what it was like to be in Regent’s Park.  I also want to find out what it was like to go from being the first institution in Britain for the higher education of women to a co-educational college.  I want to understand how the dynamics of learning changed and why it was felt that it was necessary to go co-ed.  Furthermore, I want to create a bigger tie between Bedford College and myself.  When I entered Royal Holloway back in September I understood that I was going to Royal Holloway, University of London.  Now I couldn’t truthfully say that.

sign at front gates

Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London:  The official name of RHUL.  Photo:  Alex Adams.

As the interview is hypothetically supposed to be for a ‘public history audience’, I would like it to increase others’ knowledge of Bedford and the idea of women’s only education being opened up to men.  I’m hoping the interview will provide a brief history on Bedford, how Bedford was different from Royal Holloway, and how Bedford changed when she went co-ed.


Queen Mary at the opening of the Tuke Building, Regent’s Park, 1931.  Source:  Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London Archives.

My biggest concern right now is that I won’t be able to find anyone to interview, or too many people will come forward and I will have to turn them away.  I would love to turn this into a bigger project, but as I have already submitted a proposal for my dissertation, I’m just not sure that that would be feasible.  I have been in contact with Professor Caroline Barron and she suggested I attend a Bedford College alumnae event on March 21 and just ask for interviewees, which is a possibility.

still image

The Bedford Centre for the History of Women:  One way Bedford’s legacy is honoured.  Photo:  Alena Knaup.

Overall, I am not too anxious about my concerns and I am sure I will be able to find someone willing to speak with me.  All I need to do is put a little more effort into contacting the right people.


One Comment on “The ‘Death’ of Women-Only Education: Will anyone talk to me? Will too many people want to talk to me?”

  1. Graham Smith says:

    Great idea and I hope you get someone. Fantastic photographs and interesting reflection.

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