The exhibition, The Rising Tide, opens this week and will last until March next yearNik Yazikov

Beginning this week, a four month exhibition celebrating the history of women at the University of Cambridge and featuring “rarely seen” collections will be on display at the University Library.

Lasting until March 2020, The Rising Tide: Women at Cambridge will be on exhibit in the library’s Milstein Exhibition Centre and will mark 150 years since the founding of Cambridge’s first women’s college, Girton.

The exhibition includes costumes, letters, portraits and audio-visual material focuses on the struggle for equal rights in education and the experiences, legacies and hidden labours of women at Cambridge.

It aims to examine the marginalisation and lack of recognition experienced by women throughout Cambridge’s history, such as past efforts to keep women out of student societies. It also showcases the campaigns for change and justice which have existed since Girton College became the UK’s first residential university establishment for women in 1869.

Among the artifacts on display are surviving pieces of eggshells and fireworks, demonstrating the violent reaction to an 1897 vote on whether women should be given degrees.

Another highlight is a gown worn by a woman who collected a degree at Trinity College Dublin between 1904 and 1907, unable to receive one at Cambridge, which only began awarding them to women in 1948.

Curated by Dr Lucy Delap and Dr Ben Griffin, The Rising Tide aims to showcase the little-known stories of individual women that together make up the full picture of Cambridge’s female population.

Dr Delap said, “Through The Rising Tide we hope to illustrate an all-encompassing picture of the incredible fight for gender equality within the University, while portraying the fascinating journeys of some militant, cussed and determined women of our institution too.”


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