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Institutional records

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Bedford College papers (1840s-1980s)

Founded in 1849 by Elizabeth Jesser Reid, Bedford College was the first college in Britain to make provision for the university education of women. It was based in Bedford Square, central London, then York Place on Baker Street, and then Regent's Park from 1913 to 1985.

Royal Holloway College papers (1870s-1980s)

Royal Holloway College was founded in Egham, Surrey, as a women's college by the patent medicine manufacturer, Thomas Holloway (1800-1883). It was opened by Queen Victoria in 1886 and the first 28 students started in October 1887.

Royal Holloway and Bedford New College (1980s to present)

Royal Holloway and Bedford New College merged in 1982 to form Royal Holloway and Bedford New College (now known as Royal Holloway, University of London), and the first student intake was in Egham in 1985/6. The records are being deposited in the Archives and work has commenced on cataloguing them, under the reference HB. This is a very large and ongoing project so do contact us if you are interested in records not yet on the catalogue, to discuss access to them.

Our institutional records include:

  • Founding deeds and Acts of the Colleges and other papers
  • Plans and papers relating to the design and construction of Royal Holloway's Founder's Building and the Regent's Park premises of Bedford College
  • Minute Books of the Governing Bodies and major Committees
  • Papers of administrative and academic departments
  • College publications including calendars, magazines and prospectuses
  • Student records, including Registers of Students and individual student files (up to 1960s)
  • Staff records, including some individual staff files
  • Papers of staff/student bodies
  • Records of student societies including debating, drama and sports
  • Reminiscences and diaries of former students and staff
  • Documents relating to the purchase and care of paintings in Royal Holloway's Picture Gallery
  • Advertising material relating to Thomas Holloway's pills and ointments
  • Press cuttings
  • A substantial collection of photographs of the colleges, their staff and students

Reference books

The following texts are available for reference in the Archives and in the . Copies of the major college histories may be purchased from the College shop, or by mail order. Please contact us for details.

The History of Bedford and Royal Holloway Colleges

  • E. Bennett and C. Salt (ed), College Lives: Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London (1986).
  • L. Bentley, Educating Women: A Pictorial History of Bedford College, University of London 1849-1985 (1991).
  • C. Bingham, ' "Doing something for women", Matthew Vassar and Thomas Holloway'  in History Today, 36 (1986), pp.45-51.
  • C. Bingham, The History of Royal Holloway College 1886-1985 (1987).
  • J. Chapel, Victorian Taste: The Complete Catalogue of Paintings at the Royal Holloway College(1982).
  • J. Elliott, Palaces, Patronage and Pills. Thomas Holloway: His Sanatorium, College and Picture Gallery (1996).
  • A. Harrison-Barbet, Thomas Holloway: Victorian Philanthropist (1994).
  • M. Moore (ed), Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London: Centenary Lectures 1886-1986 (1988).
  • L. Pike (ed), Sybil Barker's War: The Wartime Diary of a Director of Music and Organist at the Royal Holloway College (University of London) (1989).
  • M. Tuke, A History of Bedford College for Women 1849-1937 (1939).
  • R. Williams, Royal Holloway College: A Pictorial History (1993).

Women and higher education

  • C. Dyhouse, 'Storming the citadel or storm in a tea cup? The entry of women into higher education 1860-1920' in S. Acker and D. Warren Piper (eds), Is Higher Education Fair to Women? (1984), pp.51-64.
  • C. Dyhouse, No Distinction of Sex? Women in British Universities 1870-1939 (1995).
  • J. Howarth and M. Curthoys, 'The political economy of women's higher education in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain' in Historical Research, 60 (1987), pp.208-231.
  • G. Sutherland, 'The movement for the higher education of women: its social and intellectual context in England c1840-1880' in P. Waller (ed), Politics and Social Change in Modern Britain: Essays Presented to A.F. Thompson (1987), pp.91-116.
  • G. Sutherland, 'The plainest principles of justice: the University of London and the higher education of women' in F. Thompson (ed), The University of London and the World of Learning 1836-1986 (1990), pp.35-56.

Contact our archives

Phone: +44 (0)1784 443814


Postal address:

College Archives and Special Collections
Davison Building
Royal Holloway, University of London
TW20 0EX

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