Category Archives: Institutional Archives

Diwrnod Menywod mewn STEM: Maria Dawson, graddedig gyntaf Prifysgol Cymru

Y botanydd Maria Dawson oedd y person cyntaf i dderbyn gradd gan Brifysgol Cymru, ym 1896.

Dawson oedd y cyntaf, ar y cyd ag un arall, i dderbyn teitl Doethur y Gwyddorau gan Brifysgol Cymru, a derbyniodd ysgoloriaeth wyddonol i barhau ei hastudiaethau ym maes gwrtaith ac amaeth.

Llun o Maria Dawson, y person cyntaf i raddio o Brifysgol Cymru
Miss Dawson yn derbyn ei Doethuriaeth, o gylchgrawn Coleg Prifysgol Caerdydd, Rhagfyr 1900

Gwobrwyo Graddau Cyntaf Cymru

Ym 1892, ymunodd Dawson a Choleg Prifysgol De Cymru a Sir Fynwy (y sefydliad a ddaeth cyn Prifysgol Caerdydd) i astudio mathemateg, cemeg, sŵoleg a botaneg.

Ar yr adeg honno, doedd dim hawl gan y Coleg i roi graddau, felly byddai’r myfyrwyr yn sefyll arholiadau Prifysgol Llundain fel rheol.

Ym 1893, sefydlwyd Prifysgol Cymru, fyddai’n newid byd addysg Cymru am byth, gyda Cholegau Prifysgol Aberystwyth, Bangor a Chaerdydd yn aelodau. Golygai hyn y gallai Maria Dawson gael gradd gan sefydliad Cymreig.

Perfformiad Academaidd

Roedd Dawson yn fyfyrwraig ddawnus: mi enillodd wobr arddangosfa (ysgoloriaeth) am safon ei harholiad mynediad, a dalodd am ei ffïoedd i gyd – ac enillodd un arall ar ddiwedd y flwyddyn.

Roedd ganddi ddawn wyddonol, gan ennill gwobrau yn ei phedwar pwnc yn ystod ei hail flwyddyn.

Labordy Cemeg ym 1899 yn dangos dynion a merched yn derbyn addysg
Labordy Cemeg yng Nghaerdydd ym 1899 yn dangos dynion a merched yn derbyn addysg

Ymchwil Arloesol

Wedi iddi raddio gyda B.Sc., enillodd wobr o £150 gan Gomisiwn Brenhinol Arddangosfa 1851.

Yn Labordai Botanegol Caergrawnt, fe aeth ati i ymchwilio effeithiau nitrogen ar blanhigion, oedd yn arfer newydd iawn ar y pryd.

Yn ei phapur ‘”Nitragin and the nodules of leguminous plants” ei damcaniaeth oedd na ddylai ychwanegu nitrogen yn ormodol i bridd, ond bod ei ddefnydd mewn pridd gwael yn gallu cynyddu cynaeafau.

Merched Parchus Neuadd Aberdar

Efallai na fyddai Dawson wedi dod i Gaerdydd oni bai am y neuadd breswyl arbennig ar gyfer menywod, Neuadd Aberdâr.

Darlun artist o Neuadd Aberdar fel yr edrychai ym 1895

Roedd ei theulu yn byw yn Llundain – rhy bell iddi ddychwelyd adre bob dydd – a roedd yn annerbyniol yn ôl moesau’r oes i fyfyrwraig ddi-briod fyw ar ei phen ei hun.

Sefydlwyd Neuadd Aberdâr ym 1885, un o’r neuaddau preswyl cyntaf yn y DU i fenywod.

Seremoni Raddio gyntaf Prifysgol Cymru

Clawr wedi ei ddarlunio a llaw, rhifyn cyntaf yr 'University College Magazine', Rhagfyr 1885
Cylchgrawn cyntaf Coleg y Brifysgol, Rhagfyr 1885

Ar yr 22ain o Hydref 1897, ymgasglodd myfyrwyr Prifysgol Cymru yn Neuadd y Parc, neuadd gyngerdd fawr, ar gyfer seremoni raddio gyntaf y sefydliad.

Dyma oedd gan gylchgrawn Coleg Prifysgol De Cymru a Sir Fynwy, cyhoeddiad gan fyfyrwyr, i’w ddweud am yr achlysur arbennig hwn:

“The first to be presented was Miss Maria Dawson, for the degree of B.Sc., and her appearance was the signal for a great outburst of enthusiasm among the audience. The Deputy-Chancellor… gave her the diploma…, and with a… bow… she retired amid deafening cheers.”

Rydym ni’n dathlu Maria heddiw, a’n falch o’n hanes hir o gefnogi ymchwil menywod yn y gwyddorau – cewch weld rhagor o straeon o fenywod sy’n arloesi heddiw fan hyn: Diwrnod Menywod Mewn STEM.

Gallwch ddarllen gwaith Maria Dawson am Nitrogen fan hyn: Maria Dawson, ‘“Nitragin” and the nodules of leguminous plants’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 64, 167-168 (1899) http://doi.org/10.1098/rspl.1898.0086

Women in STEM Day: Meet Maria Dawson, the first graduate of the University of Wales

The University of Wales awarded its first degree, a Bachelor of Science, to botanist Maria Dawson in 1896.

Dawson also jointly holds the title of the first Doctor of Science of the University of Wales, and was granted a prestigious scientific scholarship which funded her pioneering research into agricultural fertilisers.

Photograph of the first graduate of the University of Wales, Maria Dawson
Miss Maria Dawson receiving her D.Sc., published in the University College Magazine in Dec 1900

Degree-awarding powers in Wales

In October 1892, Dawson was admitted to the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (the predecessor to Cardiff University) to study mathematics, chemistry, zoology and botany.

At that time, the College did not have degree-awarding powers, and students were prepared for University of London examinations.

However in 1893, whilst Dawson was a student, the history of Welsh education was altered irrevocably with the establishment of the University of Wales.

The university colleges in Cardiff, Bangor and Aberystwyth were its constituent institutions.

Academic Excellence

Dawson was a high achiever from the outset: she won an exhibition (a bursary) at the College’s entrance examinations, which covered her matriculation and lecture fees, and another at the end of her first year.

She excelled in her scientific studies, winning prizes for her performance in all four of her subjects following her second year.

Chemistry Laboratory, c.1899, showing women students
Chemistry Laboratory, c.1899, showing women students

From Botany modules to researching root nodules

After graduating with her B.Sc., Dawson was awarded a £150 research scholarship by Her Majesty’s Commission for the Exhibition of 1851.

Her pioneering research, undertaken at the Cambridge Botanical Laboratories, investigated how the addition of nitrogen and nitrates to soil, a new practice at that time, affected crop yields.

In her research paper, ‘”Nitragin” and the nodules of leguminous plants’ published by Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, she concludes:

Adding nitrogen “to soils rich in nitrates” is inadvisable. Adding “a supply of it to soil poor in nitrates results in an increased yield”, however the best results are obtained when “nitrates [are] added to the soil”.

All the single ladies: let’s put you up… in Aberdare Hall

Artist’s impression of Aberdare Hall in the 1890s

Dawson may not have enrolled at the University of South Wales and Monmouthshire at all if it were not for the dedicated all-female hall of residence the College offered.

Her family lived in London, too far to return home each day, and it was not considered respectable for a young, unmarried woman to live in lodgings unchaperoned.

Aberdare Hall, set up in 1885, was one of the first higher education residences for women in the UK.

Doff thy caps: the first degree ceremony of the University of Wales

Cover of the hand-written manuscript of the University College Magazine, Dec 1885
Cover of the hand-written manuscript of the University College Magazine, Dec 1885

The first degree ceremony of the University of Wales took place in Cardiff at Park Hall, a large concert hall, on 22 October 1897.

The magazine of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, a student publication, reported on this auspicious occasion:

“The first to be presented was Miss Maria Dawson, for the degree of B.Sc., and her appearance was the signal for a great outburst of enthusiasm among the audience. The Deputy-Chancellor… gave her the diploma…, and with a… bow, she retired amid deafening cheers.”

Today we celebrate Maria Dawson. We’re proud of our long history of supporting women’s research in STEM – you can find more stories of women innovating today here: Women in STEM at Cardiff University.

You can read more of Maria Dawson’s research here: Maria Dawson, ‘“Nitragin” and the nodules of leguminous plants’, Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 64, 167-168 (1899). Available at http://doi.org/10.1098/rspl.1898.0086

Inspirational People: 3. Kathleen Freeman – Classicist and Fiction Writer

For the third instalment of our “Inspirational People” series, we are looking at the inspirational life of an early Classicist at the University.

 

Kathleen Freeman, 1922

Kathleen Freeman, 1922

Name:  

Kathleen Freeman

Profession:

Lecturer in Greek

Date:

Appointed 1919 – Resigned 1946

AKA:                   

Mary Fitt (1936–60)

Stuart Mary Wick (1948; 1950)

Clare St. Donat (1950)

Caroline Cory (1956)

 

  • Kathleen Freeman was a prolific fiction writer and published a large number of works, predominantly detective stories, under the above pseudonyms.
  • She studied at Cardiff, graduating with her BA in 1918. Her registration form is reproduced below. She also went on to obtain a Masters’ Degree in 1922 and a DLitt in 1940.
  • In the Second World War, she gave lectures on Greece to forces stationed in south Wales.
  • She resigned following the War in 1946 and focused on publishing books on classical subjects for a non-academic audience.
  • If you want to know more, there’s a really interesting blog post about Katherine Freeman which discusses the implicit sexism surrounding the reception of her work. The post is written by Edith Hall, Professor of Classics at King’s College London, who argues that Freeman has long been grossly and unfairly underestimated by scholars and that her work should be recognised as both useful and worthwhile. (The blog post, ‘How to Conceal a Female Scholar; or, the Invisible Classicist of Cardiff’ is available at http://edithorial.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/how-to-conceal-female-scholar-or.html.)

 

Kathleen Freeman's student registration form.

Kathleen Freeman’s student registration form.

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Dr Mina Moore: marriage and motherhood at Cardiff University in the 1940s

Over the last year or so we’ve been very proud to share stories about the inspiring women who worked and studied at Cardiff University (formerly University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire). The founders of the College in 1883 were adamant that women should be admitted on equal terms to men and educated alongside them – an unusual proposition for the time!  However, despite the pioneering women who worked here, we recently came across the story of Dr Mina Moore and had to re-evaluate our opinion – just a little bit…

Dr Mina Moore worked as a lecturer in the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire’s Teacher Training Department under Professor of Education, Olive Wheeler.  She came to the University in 1938 with a wealth of experience in teaching and a solid grounding in the theory of teaching.  In 1939 she married an Italian architect, Giuseppe Rinvolucri, and continued in her job without any issues – the College did not insist on women resigning on marriage, unlike many employers at that time.  In June 1940 Mina gave birth to her son and allegedly faced strong disapproval from Olive Wheeler.  In fact, Mina claimed that she was told to give up her job in order to look after the baby, so she immediately consulted a solicitor.  We hold a file of correspondence and reports that followed Mina’s complaint, as well as several follow up reports in Senate minutes.

Letter from Mina Moore to the College following her dismissal

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After Mina’s departure and the receipt of her complaint, Senate appointed a committee to look into the events.  The reports show that the situation was more nuanced than it initially appeared.  Senate acknowledged that nothing was said in women’s contracts about giving up work on marriage or when they had a child and therefore Mina had no reason to think either of these events would be a problem.  The report also acknowledged that it was inherently contradictory to allow women to marry and then complain if they had a child.  Interestingly, the committee found that there had been a misunderstanding which led to Mina’s departure.  She had been strongly advised by Olive to consider her position (who invoked the name of the Principal at their meeting) – but she had not formally been given notice.  They said that in making that assumption and consulting a solicitor she had aggravated the situation and led Council to assume she had been dismissed as well.  Council went on to ratify the (actually non-existent) dismissal.

The initial report was fairly critical of Olive, who they claimed had been inconsistent and had wrongly given Mina the impression that she was to be dismissed.  Olive objected to this draft and emphasised the other issues she had with Mina’s continued employment.  As an Italian citizen Mina’s husband was at risk of internment as soon as Italy declared war on the UK and France.  (Ironically, they did this one day after the birth of her son.)  Mina’s own nationality was in question following her marriage because at this time women took their husband’s nationality – although they could apply to have their British citizenship restored*, which Mina seems to have done.  Following the declaration of war by Italy in 1940 she would be restricted as to where she could travel and might have to request police permission or an escort before going into schools – an important part of her job.

There was also unease over the fact that Mina had moved to North Wales to be with her husband after her marriage.  The distance from the College was a worry to Olive even before Mina’s pregnancy was revealed.  Taking all of these factors into account, Olive believed that Mina would not be able to perform her job satisfactorily or devote the necessary amount of time.  She emphasised that Mina’s work was specialised and it would be impossible to find someone who could cover for her.  It was noted in the report that although Mina carried out all her lecturing duties before the birth on 9th June, she did fail to complete some of her admin tasks over the summer.  Although these other reasons did affect her attitude to Mina, Olive clearly stated her belief that from a psychological and developmental perspective, mothers should be at home with their babies.

As part of the investigation, the Committee asked other employers about their policy in this area.  A letter in the file from Liverpool Education Department states that they would only employ married women on a temporary basis and then only if they were separated from their husbands or were the sole breadwinner due to their husband’s ill health.   The Department automatically took an announcement of marriage by a female employee as a resignation.  In contrast to this, after a full investigation Senate formally declared that women should not have to leave the College when they married or had a child.  As long as the women could carry out their job, they would remain employed.  It was suggested that they might need to look at offering a leave of absence around the time of the birth, which could cause problems over covering their duties, but this did not prevent them from upholding the right of women to stay in their job.

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Letter of support from the British Federation of University Women

Although we were initially a little saddened to see one of our heroes disinclined to uphold a female member of staff’s right to work after having a child, we were heartened by the College’s eventual decision. It is only fair to say that although many of us today may have a different opinion to Olive, as a child psychologist her objections were made on the grounds of genuinely held professional concern for the welfare of children, and they were by no means unusual.  Olive’s life and work still stand as inspiring and progressive: Inspirational People 1: Dame Olive Wheeler  This story also raises the interesting question on how we choose to view people who display common attitudes of the times in which they lived.

To finish on a positive note, I’m pleased to report that Mina went on to have a very successful career in academia and died in North Wales at the age of 89.  We admire her determination to marry, have a child and continue to carry out her work to a high standard.  Her refusal to accept the position she found herself in led to the right to remain at work after childbirth becoming the official policy of the College.  While there may still have been hurdles to overcome, it was a step in the right direction.

 

* “Under the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act, 1914, a woman loses her nationality, and under that Act, as amended by the 1933 Act, such a woman is given the right to make an application for her British nationality to be restored to her.”

http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1944/oct/06/british-nationality-married-women

British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act, 1914: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/4-5/17/part/III/crossheading/national-status-of-married-women-and-infant-children/enacted

Inspirational People: 2. Mary “Eppynt” Phillips – The First Female Graduate of the Medical School at Cardiff

For the second instalment of our “Inspirational People” series, we are looking back at the first female graduate of the Medical School in Cardiff. In the years following her studies, Mary “Eppynt” Phillips went on to live an undoubtedly inspirational life, making a remarkable contribution to medicine during and after the First World War.

In the 1890s, women’s entry into the medical profession was, at best, challenging. Having medical doctors who were women was a relatively recent advancement in Britain. At the time, only a handful of British medical schools would admit women students to their courses.

It was against this backdrop that the Medical School in Cardiff was established. Following the precedent of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (Cardiff University’s predecessor institution of which the Medical School was originally part), the Medical School in Cardiff was determined to admit male and female students on an equal basis from the start. (For more context on women’s education at Cardiff, see our blog post at: http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/cuarm/2015/06/08/accessforallp2/.)

The first female medical graduate to have studied at Cardiff was Mary “Eppynt” Phillips. In 1875 she was born in Merthyr Cynog in Breconshire where her father was a farmer. She began studying Medicine in Cardiff in 1894, the first year after the Medical School was founded. She obtained her Intermediate MB from Cardiff then went on to complete her MB in London.  (Until the 1920s the School provided only the first two or three years of medical education so students had to attend another University to complete their training.)

While Mary was at the Medical School, she was known as Bessie Phillips (her name was Mary Elizabeth Phillips but she added the name “Eppynt” after Mynydd Epynt in Mid-Wales). Her student address card as well as her entry in the first Matriculation Book are reproduced below:

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MEP3

Entry for “Bessie Phillips” in the Matriculation Book, 1883-1895 [Ref. UCC/R/Stu/Mat/1].

She was noted by the Western Mail as being the first female doctor in Wales, but she disputed this herself in a letter to the Western Mail (see excerpts reproduced below).

MEP1

Western Mail, 27 November 1900

MEP2

Western Mail, 30 November 1900

There is no doubt that as a qualified medical doctor, Mary “Eppynt” Phillips made a huge contribution to medicine, both in the UK and abroad. Information gathered from newspaper reports reveal that in the first year of the First World War she travelled with another female doctor to Calais to establish a typhoid hospital under the auspices of the Scottish Women’s Hospital.  The Scottish Women’s Hospital was a movement set up to provide opportunities for women doctors and nurses to provide medical assistance all over Europe.

In April 1915 she set sail for Serbia.  En route to Serbia, however, she was instructed by Lord Methuen, the Lieutenant-General, to divert her journey in order to attend to those wounded in the Dardanelles campaign.  Following this diversion, she progressed to Serbia where she became the senior physician of the Scottish Women’s Hospital operation.  After a period of convalescence in Britain (during which she gave a series of lectures raising awareness and funds for the Scottish Women’s Hospital’s war work), she travelled to Corsica where she worked with female refugees from Serbia.  The places she worked during this period can be found in her CV, which is available on the People’s Collection website.

A report in the Brecon Radnor Express, 19 July 1917, describes her as “one of the foremost women doctors in her record of war work, of which Wales generally, and Merthyr Cynog […] in particular, may, indeed, be proud”.

Mary “Eppynt” Phillips’ extensive involvement in the medical side of the war effort is remarkable, and her work with refugees is both topical and inspiring. She used the skills learned from her education in Cardiff to help those most in need and, as such, Cardiff University too should feel a sense of pride in the truly inspirational work of its first female medical graduate.

If you’re interested in learning more about Mary “Eppynt” Phillips, you can view a collection of primary sources at https://www.peoplescollection.wales/collections/430174.
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Serendipitous discoveries: a vignette of Percy Bush, early C20th Welsh rugby player

In a meeting on Monday morning I mentioned the delight of serendipitous finds in archives; how you can often just pull something off the shelves and discover an intriguing story or fact.  I hadn’t realised it then but, by a strange coincidence, that is exactly what happened to me earlier in the day when I had a few spare minutes  in the Archives store.  I noticed an early 20th century minute book from the Teacher Training Department of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire (now Cardiff University) and had a quick look through it to see what sort of information it held.  There was a typescript letter stuck into the volume from the father of a student to the Board of Education in Whitehall asking for special consideration for his son’s return to the College.  Apparently Percy had been away on a rugby tour of Australia and New Zealand for several months – in 1904 of course they had to spend weeks travelling by sea.  The letter explains that the family doctor had recommended the tour because “[Percy’s] nervous system was not what it should be”.  He was now quite recovered, however, and able to pick up his studies again.

I thought this was a good example of the kind of information recorded in the minutes so took a couple of photos of the letter.  When I looked at it in more detail later on I realised that the father was James Bush, the founder and headmaster of the School of Art in Cardiff (later part of Cardiff Technical School/College, one of Cardiff University’s predecessor institutions).  I did a Google search for James’ son and discovered that Percy Frank Bush was an internationally renowned rugby player and cricketer.  He played rugby for Cardiff (very successfully) and cricket for Glamorgan (a little less successfully).

This letter – read completely by chance – adds to our understanding of Percy’s life and provides a poignant background to his glittering sporting career.  Despite his outstanding success on the rugby field he struggled with his health and his education for a time before going on to work as a teacher at Wood Street School in Cardiff.

It shows how valuable it can be to simply browse through primary sources without any particular aim or purpose.  Having the time to do this in a world of pressure may be a luxury but the spare 5 minutes I had this morning brought to light a very human story.  Even records that are catalogued can’t all be fully indexed and a lot of information is only found by painstakingly plodding through – or randomly opening! – a volume or a box.  In a world where so much is indexed or discoverable by a Google search, it’s good to know there is still plenty left to reveal!

Further information about Percy Bush can be found at: http://yba.llgc.org.uk/en/s2-BUSH-FRA-1879.html and http://www.cardiffrfc.com/Teams/Player?personid=100814

Some personal papers of the family are held at Glamorgan Record Office: http://calmview.cardiff.gov.uk/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=D534&pos=7

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Letter from James Bush to the Board of Education, 1904 [CL.CM/DEM.sch/M/1]

 

Percy Bush's entry in the General Register of Men Students No 1 - Normal Department [Ref.: UCC/R/AC/REG/DTC/1].

Percy Bush’s entry in the General Register of Men Students No 1 – Normal Department [Ref.: UCC/R/AC/REG/DTC/1].

Inspirational People: 1. Dame Olive Wheeler

Photograph of Dame Olive Wheeler, taken by Elliot & Fry, London. Part of Accession 271. Reproduced by permission of National Portrait Gallery under the Creative Commons License

In a new series of snippets from the archive, we’ll be sharing snappy fact files about inspiring individuals from the University’s history. For the first in the series, we’ll begin with Dame Olive Wheeler…

Name: Dame Olive Wheeler

Profession: Educationalist and Psychologist

Role at Cardiff:

1925 – Appointed Professor of Education (Women)

1933 – Title changed formally to Professor of Education

1948 – Became Dean of Faculty of Education

1951 – Became Professor Emeritus of the federal University of Wales

Why was she inspirational?

  • She held and published extremely progressive views on education, particularly the links between education and psychology and mental health.
  • Her work continues to influence educational theory today. Her progressive approach led her to anticipate later work on ‘comprehensive schools’, links between schools and industry, and the development of vocational guidance and educational counselling.
  • She stood as Labour candidate in the General Election in 1922.
  • She campaigned tirelessly about political and social issues, especially relating to women and young people.
  • In 1949 she was awarded a DBE for services to education in Wales.
  • Her work at Cardiff included the development of a collegiate centre in Cathedral Road, Cardiff, where local teachers could develop skills for research in schools and classrooms so her work directly affected and improved the lives of people in the local community. Like Millicent MacKenzie (the UK’s first female professor and Professor of Education at Cardiff – http://blogs.cardiff.ac.uk/cuarm/2015/03/17/millicent-mackenzie/), Dame Olive’s work had a direct impact on the experience of schoolchildren in Wales and the wider world, and her research would continue to influence educational theory and policy for many years to come.

Towards a snapshot of a bygone era: some new records from the Students’ Union

The Institutional Archive recently took in some records and artefacts from the Students’ Union. These older records help to fill a gap in our understanding of the Union and the variety of items help us towards building up a mental image of student life in the past.

They include minute books dating from the 1930s to the 1960s of the Union General Meetings, the Executive Committee, the House Committee and, charmingly, the “Dance and Entertainments Committee” who organised weekly balls for students which were held on Saturday evenings. The minutes of the Student Representative Council from 1959 contain interesting discussions about the Union’s stance on Apartheid in South Africa: there was a South African student on the Committee who is given an oar as a symbol of freedom, along with a pledge of support to South African students. The minutes tell us about the management and day to day running of the Union during these years, something which we previously knew very little about.

Aside from the minute books, also included are some other items of memorabilia, including University College Cardiff and UWIST (University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology) rugby shirts from the 1970s and 80s. There was also two sporting caps dating from the 1920s, one for the Rowing Team and the other from the Rugby Team.

Sports Caps from the 1920s - Rowing Club and Rugby Club

Sports Caps from the 1920s – Rowing Club and Rugby Club

These records fit nicely alongside an accession which the Institutional Archive was gifted some years ago of by a former student. This collection, dating from the early thirties, includes such little treasures as his Student Union Membership card and programmes for the Union societies which he was a member. Items such as this can easily be regarded as ephemera and lost for ever, so it is lovely that we have examples of these everyday items which can help us to build up a mental picture of student life in the early 1930s. They also fit alongside some photographs we hold of the original Students’ Union building and the Students’ Union Officers, both from 1933.

We’ve enjoyed working more closely with the Students’ Union recently, working together on projects such as #VintageCardiff. Projects such as this help to raise students’ awareness of the University’s interesting heritage and have also meant that staff in the Union were aware of the Institutional Archive’s ability to preserve these invaluable records.

UnionCard1930s1

1930s Student Membership Card

1930s Student Membership Card 1930s Student Membership Card

Cardiff University in the Blitz: 75 years on (1941 – 2016)

Seventy-five years ago, the University like so much of the country became a victim of the bombing raids in the Second World War. The heaviest bombing in Cardiff fell between February and April 1941, with the University hit on the 26th February and 3rd March.

On the 26th February, bombs fell on the original Students’ Union building (pictured above – now the Student Support Centre), the gymnasium (now the Strength & Conditioning Centre) and the Tennis Courts (now the car park in Main Building). A large amount of Main Building’s windows were shattered or damaged, including the beautiful stained glass windows in the Science Library. Flying shrapnel and bomb casing left pock marks in the Portland stone around the door to the Park Place entrance of Main Building. It was also on this night the Students’ Union received a direct hit which caused ‘very extensive’ damage to the Students’ Union Building, partially demolishing the newly built refectory. Walls and ceilings had fallen down and according to a report, breaking all of the windows. It is a painful irony that the Students’ Union building itself was conceived as a memorial to the students who were killed in the First World War. The building was repaired following the War and is now used by Student Support and Wellbeing.

Tragically, this night also saw the death of a student firewatcher. After registering at the University just four months previously, Stephen Whitehouse was assisting with fire-watching responsibilities implemented by the University College. Stephen Whitehouse had turned nineteen just over a month before the incident. The Company Captain’s Report notes that he was seriously injured in the raid, but died of his wounds the following day in Cardiff Royal Infirmary.

On the 3rd March, two bombs fell on Main Building – one through the roof of the Physics department and the other in the Drapers’ Library (now the Science Library). The incendiary device which fell in the Library caused a significant fire and the whole of Cathays Park was “studded with incendiaries”. A fire broke out in the Science Library and off duty students came and assisted. Without the bravery of these student and others who assisted, the fire would have gone out of control, and Main Building would not exist in the way we know it today.

If you look around the entrance to Main Building from the car park, you can see pock marks caused by flying shrapnel, left as a testament to the impact of the War on the University.

Company Captain’s Report, 26 February 1941 (Transcription below)

26th February, Company Captain's Report [ref. UCC/R/F/ARP/4]

26th February, Company Captain’s Report [ref. UCC/R/F/ARP/4]

Transcription

Wednesday – February 26th, 1941.

Company Captains[sic.] Report.

The alert was received at 7.47.pm. The spotters rota went immediately into action – the two members of the Ministry of Supply staff took the first turn. Team Captain followed to the spotters roof about 8pm. Flares were seen to drop away to the S.E., more flares appeared shortly after at a point much nearer the College, and over the city; the action warning was sounded at 8.8.pm. Intense bombardment succeeded and continued until approximately 9.50.; incendiary bombs were seen to drop to the East, – none in the vicinity of the College. Large fires came to view; and high explosive bombs succeeded, some of which fell on the Students’ Union Building, the College Gymnasium, and in the East grounds of the College, causing casualties and damage. Those among the night fire patrol who received injury are Stephen Whitehouse (seriously), Dr. J. Heywood Thomas, Mr. Alun E. Alder, Mr. W. J. James, and Mr. J. K. Lloyd Williams, (the four last[nam]ed superficial cuts caused chiefly, it is thought, by flying glass and debris. Mr. Whitehouse received First Aid treatment and later was taken to the Cardiff Royal Infirmary; the others were all given First Aid treatment.

The “Raiders Passed” signal was received at 10.pm. It is recorded with gratification that several members of staff and students reported to the College to see what help they could offer; among them was Mr. Gillison (Ministry of Supply). A survey of the premises was carried out after a roll call of all personnel had been taken. Four bomb-craters were discovered in the College grounds; a fifth high explosive struck the College buildings in Park Place causing extensive damage; as far as could be ascertained, in the circumstances, the damage to the College building itself consisted of numerous broken windows, skylights, doors, and window and door frames.

Aaron Lewis

Company Captain

 

 

The Draper’s Library (now known as the Science Library), 1933

The Science Library (then the Drapers’ Library) suffered on both nights of the bombing. The bombing on the 26th February caused the beautiful stained glass window to be shattered. How do you think these compare with the replacements?

On the 3rd March, an incendiary device caused a fire in the library. Students who were passing by assisted with putting out the fire and saved the beautiful library from being completely destroyed. Can you imagine being willing to put your own life in danger to save the library?

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Photograph of the Drapers’ Library, 1933, Cardiff University Institutional Archive (ref.: UCC/Misc/P/31)

Report, Monday 3rd March (Transcription below)

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Transcription

Report, Monday, March 3rd.

All except one+ of the party reported for duty: he was expected to arrive at 9.30, but at that time the raid was at its height.

On the sounding of the town ‘alert’, the Ministry of Supply watchers went to the Physics roof: they sounded the alarm at once. , and This was followed almost immediately by a shower of incendiary bombs, which fell over the College and the surrounding area. One fell on the Physics roof and one fell through the Library roof, going straight down to the floor. These, together with several that were burning in the grounds, were safely extinguished. The whole of Cathays Park was studded with incendiaries, and some fires were started in the town. The incendiaries were followed by H. E. [High Explosive] bombs, and the gunfire was very heavy. At this period, a message arrived that the watchers at th the Gymnasium had safely put out several incendiaries, but were unable to control with stirrup pumps a blazing pile of wood, which had been stacked outside the Union. The bomb had lodged behind the wood & could not be reached. The messengers ran to the Police Station, and the fire was extinguished by the Brigade. The H. E. bombs were falling so thickly, after the first attack by incendiaries was over, that at 9.15 orders were given for the watchers to leave the upper floors: they were kept on the ground floor, in the positions of the main corridor which were most sheltered from falling or flying glass. Those who were without steel tin helmets were then ordered to Shelter 4, to be summoned from there if incendiaries should fall. At about 10.30, flares were seen: A as it seemed likely that they would be followed by a fresh attach of incendiaries, the watchers were sent to their action stations. Incendiaries fell at approximately 10.45: but they appeared to miss the building or the grounds. Shortly after this, the H. H. was again so heavy that the watchers were again called down, & remained in the main corridor for the remainder of the raid. At 11.30, the ‘raiders passed’ sounded: and the watchers at the Gymnasium saw from their roof that sparks were coming from a portion of the Library roof. A bomb had fallen on the North side of the building, about two thirds of the distance along; it had penetrated the corrugated iron sheet covering the skylight; and as it had lodged in the top gallery, it had not been seen from the floor of the Library. The fire was tackled from inside the Library first; and then from the outside. The Police arrived on the scene after the fire had been fought for ten minutes: and several students who were out in the town came and lent assistance. Chains of buckets were formed both inside the Library & on the roof: in both cases, the links in the chain were of necessity somewhat widely spaced. The town ‘alert’ was sounded at the time of the arrival of the police: there was some gunfire, and some bombs appeared to be dropped; but only one was sufficiently close to cause the watchers any discomfort. The fire was extinguished in about an hour’s time.

The remainder of the second alert was uneventful.

The Police recommended before they left that ae pair of watchers should take care of the chance remnants of the fire, in case they should burst into flames afresh. This was done, an hourly rota of duties being arranged. Those watchers were also charged with the duty of collecting buckets, stirrup pumps & other equipment, filling the buckets with sand & water & placing them in readiness to meet a fresh attach.

The damage to the Library could hardly be assessed at the time. It is to be feared that in addition to the damage by fire, these will prove to be a considerable number of books damaged by water. There would have been more if we had had the fire hydrants which the Police expected to find. There were no personal injuries. A certain amount of glass was broken in the College: this was mainly, as far as could be ascertained, fragments shaken from panes previously broken.

It should be noted that it was discussed before the raid that the Library doors were locked: and that some inner doors of the Library were also locked. The nozzle became detached from one stirrup pump: & two pumps broke.              As soon as it was light, the grounds were searched for unexploded bombs.

+ H. M. Meredith

Geoffrey Percival. . Team Captain.

Report on damage to College Buildings

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Stephen Whitehouse: In Memory

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Stephen Whitehouse enrolled as a student on 1st October 1940 to study science. He was from a Cardiff family: his father was a mechanical and electrical engineer.

He became a student firewatcher, volunteering his services to help the University during the war. Firewatchers were given the responsibility of watching a certain area or building. They watched for incendiary bombs and communicated news of any fires. They could deal with incendiary bombs by dousing them in buckets of sand, water or by smothering.

Just four months after enrolling, the University was badly hit and Stephen was seriously injured while on duty. He was given First Aid on the scene and taken to Cardiff Royal Infirmary after the raid had passed. As the age of 19, Stephen died as a result of the injuries he sustained while defending the University from enemy action.

Stephen was the brother of Father Bernard Whitehouse, the late administrator of Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral of St. David, Cardiff’s Catholic Cathedral. His obituary states that he was inspired to became a priest as a result of his brother’s tragic death (South Wales Echo, April 24th 2002). One of his final duties as priest was to unveil the plaque to Stephen Whitehouse in the University’s Catholic Chaplaincy.

 

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Cardiff University: a patchwork of predecessors

As described recently in the Cardiff University Alumni magazine (Autumn 2015), today’s Cardiff University is the product of a number of other educational institutions coming together over the last century or so.  The development of further and higher education in Cardiff is a complicated one, with institutional name changes and mergers making it hard to follow.  This post attempts to explain those developments – and there’s a handy timeline at the end for reference.

The story is told within the archives that we hold from these predecessor institutions, including minutes, prospectuses, Education Department inspection reports and a ground-breaking Legal Agreement of 1890.

From Cardiff Technical School to the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology

In January 1866 Cardiff Borough Council began to run classes in Science and Art aimed at working people.  Evening classes had been offered on and off from 1841 by the Mechanics’ Institute in Cardiff but they failed to put them on a stable footing.  The Borough Council’s classes took place at Cardiff Free Library under the headmastership of James Bush, who was to remain at the helm – through huge changes – for 50 years.  The Reports of the Free Library Committee give a fascinating account of the development of these night classes into what later came to be referred to as the School of Science and the School of Art.

During the 1880s there was a move by the Government to increase the provision of formal education beyond school, focussing on vocational “technical” education.  In 1889 The Technical Instruction Act was passed, which led to the setting up of a Technical Instruction Committee by Cardiff County Borough Council.  After discussions with University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire [UCSWM] it was agreed that technical education would be provided by the College on behalf of the Council.  Two of the aims of the founders of UCSWM (est. 1883) were 1) to offer education to a wider audience than full time students, and 2) to improve the standards of education in Wales generally, so this development was one they were keen to embrace.

A legal agreement transferring the staff and assets of the Schools of Science and Art to UCSWM was drawn up in 1890.  From this date the classes took place on UCSWM premises and the institution was known as the Technical School of the County Borough of Cardiff.  Viriamu Jones, the Principal of UCSWM, acted as Principal of the Technical School.  The novelist Howard Spring attended night classes here and in his autobiography he spoke warmly of the opportunities they offered.  In 1907, however, the Council took back direct management of the technical instruction classes in order to develop and expand them.  The classes became so popular that the Council built a new home for the “City of Cardiff Technical School”, as it was then known, near what is now Cardiff University’s Main Building in Cathays.  The Technical School building (now Bute Building) opened in 1916 and is today part of the Cardiff University estate.

The Technical School (later Cardiff Technical College, then Cardiff College of Technology) continued to thrive and develop after its relocation.  It offered day and evening classes for children over 14 and adults.  In 1945 a branch was opened in Crwys Road to house the Building and Catering Departments because of overcrowding in the main site.   Demand for vocational education grew in the post-War period and other Colleges (with confusingly similar names!) were opened by the Council – Cardiff Teacher Training College (later Cardiff College of Education) in 1945, and Llandaff Technical College, later Llandaff College of Technology, in 1954 (both now part of Cardiff Metropolitan University).

In 1957 there was a major change – Cardiff College of Technology was chosen to become one of a select number of Colleges of Advanced Technology in England and Wales.  The College stopped offering “lower level” qualifications and concentrated on diplomas and degrees instead.  The “lower level” qualifications, including the Catering Department, were transferred to Llandaff College of Technology.  In 1968 there was a further major development when the Welsh College of Advanced Technology became the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology (UWIST).  The former City of Cardiff Technical School, which had developed from those Science and Art night classes begun in 1841 became a fully-fledged University.  UWIST and UCSWM (by then University College Cardiff) merged in 1988 to become University of Wales College Cardiff.  In 1998 there was another change of name, this time to Cardiff University.

University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire to Cardiff University

Education provision in Wales in the nineteenth century had been heavily criticised in a number of official reports, starting with the infamous “Blue Books” of 1847.  In the following decades it was recognised that the standard of teaching was restricted by the limited education of teachers and the consensus was that this needed to change.  Many of those who wished to see an improvement believed that Colleges or Universities based around Wales would help to achieve better teaching and improve the standard of education.

The aims of the founders of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire were, therefore, to encourage university attendance among the people of South Wales (although all were welcome – the first year’s intake included students from Italy and Brisbane) and to raise educational standards in general.  They were eager to offer the same courses with the same lecturers via the medium of evening classes in order to reach working people.  Indeed, during the first couple of decades there were far more students attending evening classes in Cardiff, Merthyr, Aberdare and other local towns than there were full-time “day students”.  Training teachers was seen as a vital part of the College’s role, supporting the hope that more highly qualified teachers would lead to better education for children in Wales.

Following the final decision in Spring 1883 that the College for South Wales should be based in Cardiff rather than Swansea, work began on finding a building, employing lecturers and running entrance exams.  It is remarkable that the first students entered the new College, based in the old Royal Infirmary Building on Newport Road, in October of that same year.  A full range of “traditional” subjects were offered and teaching led to University of London degrees (UCSWM did not have degree awarding powers).  The College became part of the newly formed University of Wales in 1894.

What is remarkable about UCSWM is their commitment to the wider community and to Wales as a whole.  They saw themselves not as an elite institution but a means to widen opportunities and improve the lives of Welsh communities.  Their determination to educate women on equal terms is also notable.

[More detail about these topics can be found elsewhere on our blog: Access for All part 1 and Access for All part 2]

UCSWM continued to develop and expand throughout the 20th century, becoming known as University College Cardiff, University of Wales College Cardiff and, finally, Cardiff University.

School of Medicine

The Welsh National School of Medicine began its life in 1893 as part of an ambitious attempt by UCSWM to establish an institution to train doctors within Wales.  Until the 1920s the School provided only the first two or three years of medical education: students had to attend another University to complete their degree.  After much argument throughout the 1920s the School of Medicine became a separate institution – until it re-merged with Cardiff University in 2004.

Llandaff College of Education (Home Economics)

(not to be confused with Cardiff College of Education!)

The Training School for Cookery and Domestic Arts was part of the expansion of technical and vocational education that took place in Cardiff in the 1890s.  Girls and women were trained in domestic arts to become housekeepers, cooks and teachers.  In 1912 the management was handed over to a joint committee of local Councils but the School (by then called the Llandaff College of Education) merged with University College Cardiff in 1977.

School of Art

One of the institutions “lost” along the way was the School of Art. In 1949 the Art Department, which had been part of Cardiff Technical School/College of Technology from its origins in 1890 (and which grew from those early night classes at the Free Library) became an independent institution – the Cardiff College of Art.  Interestingly, in 1976 the College of Art merged with Llandaff College of Technology and Cardiff College of Education to become the Cardiff Institute of Higher Education – now Cardiff Metropolitan University.  So the College of Art has the curious history of spending 59 years as part of one of Cardiff University’s predecessor institutions and 40 (so far) as part of Cardiff Met!

Records of the Institutions

Cardiff University Institutional Archive holds a variety of records from the constitutional institutions.  Coverage is by no means complete – the life of records for any organisation or individual is usually hazardous and fraught with risk and it is surprising that so many survive.  Often it is mere accident or forgetfulness that leaves records to be stored somewhere rather than thrown away.  Bearing that in mind, we have compiled a rough list of the records that we hold relating to students (see separate blog post).  There is much more in the University’s archives – please get in touch if you are interested in knowing more about what we have.  (Please note that not all of the more recent records will be accessible due to legal restrictions, for example, a student’s record would normally only be available to that student.)

 

Timeline for Cardiff University and its predecessor Institutions

1866

In January 1866 Science and Art classes aimed at the working classes began at Cardiff Free Library under the Headmastership of James Bush.

1883

University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire founded.

1890

Agreement between UCSWM and the Technical Instruction Committee of the Cardiff Borough Council for UCSWM to provide technical instruction for at least 10 years.  The Schools of Science and Art (all equipment, apparatus, fixtures etc.) were transferred to UCSWM as part of this Agreement.  The staff of the Schools of Science and Art became staff of UCSWM.  The new school was referred to as “the Technical School of the County Borough of Cardiff established under provisions of the Technical Instruction Act in association with the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire”.

1891

Training School of Cookery and Domestic Arts founded by UCSWM.

1893

University of Wales established. UCSWM was a founding member and from the 1890s offered University of Wales degrees alongside University of London degrees.

A Professor was appointed to set up a medical faculty within UCSWM with the intention of offering the first 2-3 years of pre-clinical training.

1907

Technical classes moved to the direct management of the Technical Instruction Committee under a Superintendent.  The classes were still held on UCSWM property on Newport Road.  The School was known as the Technical School of the City of Cardiff (and by 1914, the City of Cardiff Technical College).

1910-1931

Years of arguments over the management of the School of Medicine finally led to an independent Welsh National School of Medicine (later became University of Wales College of Medicine) in 1931.  After this time UWCM buildings were leased from UCSWM, which continued to offer the first three years training.

1912

The School of Cookery and Domestic Arts moved to the control of a Joint Committee of several local authorities and UCSWM.  There was a greater emphasis within the School on training Domestic Science teachers (Domestic Science became a compulsory subject for girls in school at this time).

1914-1916

A new building (today known as the Bute Building) was constructed near UCSWM to house the City of Cardiff Technical College, along with the Junior Day Technical and Commercial School.  The Junior School took place during the day while the other classes were still held in the evenings.

1919

Cardiff Technical College began to offer full time day classes, alongside their established evening and part time courses.

1921

Complete medical degrees were offered by UCSWM for the first time, in conjunction with Cardiff Royal Infirmary.

c1936

An extension to the Cardiff Technical College building was opened.

1945-1947

Some departments (Building, Catering) moved from the main Technical College building to a disused elementary school on Crwys Road.

1949

The Art Department of City of Cardiff Technical College became an independent institution – the College of Art.

1951

City of Cardiff Technical College was now known as Cardiff College of Technology and Commerce.

1957

Following the Robbins Report the College of Technology and Commerce became one of eight Further Education Colleges (and the only one in Wales) to specialise in “higher” technical qualifications only.  It was now known as the Welsh College of Advanced Technology.  “Lower level” qualifications, including “O” levels, “A” levels, Craft/Catering and Domestic Arts were no longer offered by the College.  These qualifications could be taken at another entirely separate local FE Institution, Llandaff Technical College.

1961

The Redwood Building was completed by 1961 and the Building department in Crwys Road returned.

1968

The Welsh College of Advanced Technology gained University College status.  Its name changed to University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology.

1972

University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire changed its name to University College Cardiff.  This name had been used informally for several decades.

1977

Llandaff College of Education (formerly the Training School/College of Cookery and Domestic Arts/Home Economics) and University College Cardiff merged.

1988

University College Cardiff and University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology merged to form University of Wales College of Cardiff.

1999

University of Wales College of Cardiff became known as Cardiff University.

2004

University of Wales College of Medicine and Cardiff University merged.  The name was changed legally to Cardiff University and the College left the University of Wales to become a University in its own right.