From Aida Desta to ‘Working Women’s Summer Schools’, discover some of the pioneers and reformers that have shaped not only Newnham, but the world
Part of the 150th Anniversary Open Programme, created by Rosa Campbell (NC 2016) & Paula Keller (NC 2015). With thanks to the Guild of Friends
Click on the pin points below to explore a selection of radical and feminist histories of Newnham
That Sylvia Plath studied at Newnham is a fact about the College’s history imparted on undergraduate students early on. Her autobiographic novel 'The Bell Jar' has inspired generations of feminists, both at her college and elsewhere. Together with her poetry, it has become an important reservoir of comfort and consolation for young women struggling with the world and their place in it. It is because of this heritage that we include Plath here.
Working Women’s Summer Schools (1922-1950)
A two-page article in the Roll Letter of January 1921 by Newnham member Edith Neville started Newnham’s working women’s summer schools. Neville called on members and alumnae of the college to support the Workers Educational Association and Colleges for Working Women set up in London. Neville envisioned the creation of a similar college in Cambridge.
Clara Rackham and Women in Local Government
From 1894, women who owned property could vote in local elections, become administrators (‘Poor Law Guardians’) of workhouses for the poor, and act on school boards. In 1904, Clara Rackham was elected as a Poor Law Guardian. From 1907, women could be elected onto borough and county councils and as mayor. In 1919, Clara Rackham became a Cambridge Borough Councillor for Labour. From 1919, women could be magistrates in court. The pattern is familiar by now: Rackham became a magistrate in 1920.