How was Bedford College changed with the admittance of male students?

Through my interview with a Bedford College alumna, I am hoping to discover the differences between women-only education and mixed education.  Thus, the main focus of my essay will be on how Bedford changed once she went co-ed in 1965. As Bedford College was the first institution of higher education for women in Britain, I want to explore the reasons behind going co-ed, how that affected her public image, and how it affected the students.  I also hope to subsequently learn about higher education for women in the 1960s, the job market, and home life after earning a degree.



From ‘Educating Women:  A Pictorial History of Bedford College University of London 1849 – 1985’ by Linna Bentley

The topic particularly interests me because in the US there is always a lot of discussion around historically all-female schools going co-ed.  Many of the all-female universities and colleges in the United States are extremely proud of their history and plan on staying single sex far into the future.  Therefore, it is very surprising to me that Bedford chose to go co-ed as early as 1965.

I also became really interested in Bedford College ever since I found out that she’s part of Royal Holloway’s legacy.  It really bothers me how she is often ignored and pushed to the back corner, when arguably she was the better school.  Everyone knows who Thomas Holloway is, he has a statue.  Elizabeth Jesser Reid?  Some poor looking residence halls.  I would personally like to learn more about Bedford from someone who attended the school and spread that knowledge to others.

3. best, looks like i have the photo


Elizabeth Jesser Reid.  Royal Holloway Archives.

I think that this is important in the wider context of public history because it is exploring an area that hasn’t really been explored within the public history sphere.  Bedford College has a really rich history and the majority of it is languishing in the Royal Holloway archives. There haven’t even been many books written on the subject.  I would thus like to bring to light her rich history and something that, I think, changed her image drastically.



One of the few books published recently on the history of Bedford College.


One Comment on “How was Bedford College changed with the admittance of male students?”

  1. Graham Smith says:

    I came across an article on the merger the other day on JSTOR by Dorothy Wedderburn… probably worth a look?

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