Some Account of a Proposed New College for Women

Some Account of a Proposed New College for Women

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Sarah Emily Davies (22 April 1830 - 13 July 1921) was an English feminist and suffragist, and a pioneering campaigner for women's rights to university access. She is principally remembered as being the co-founder and an early Mistress of Girton College, Cambridge University, the first college in England to educate women. In 1862, after the death of her father, Davies moved to London, where she edited the English Woman's Journal, and became friends with women's rights advocates Barbara Bodichon, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and her younger sister Millicent Fawcett. Davies became a founder member of a women's discussion group, the Kensington Society, along with Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Barbara Bodichon, Dorothea Beale and Frances Mary Buss, who together unsuccessfully petitioned Parliament to grant women voting rights. Davies began campaigning for women's rights to education and to degrees and teaching qualifications. She was active on the London School Board and in the Schools Inquiry Commission and was instrumental in obtaining the admission of girls to official secondary school examinations. She then advocated the admission of women to the Universities of London, Oxford and Cambridge. Like all universities at this time, these were exclusively male domains. She also became involved in the suffrage movement, which centred on a woman's right to vote. She was involved in organising for John Stuart Mill's 1866 petition to the British Parliament) (which was signed by Paulina Irby, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson and 15,000 others) the first to ask for women's suffrage. That same year she also wrote the book The Higher Education of Women. n 1869, Davies led the founding of Britain's first women's college, with the support of Frances Buss, Dorothea Beale and Barbara Bodichon. Girton College was initially established in Hitchin, Hertfordshire with Charlotte Manning as the first Mistress. The college later moved in 1873 to the outskirts of Cambridge. Davies strongly advocated for a quality of curriculum that was equivalent to those offered to men of the time. Despite the Senate rejecting her proposal to let women officially sit for the papers, Davies continued to train students for Tripos exams on an unofficial basis.
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