First Advisor

Caroline Litzenberger

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in History






Elisabeth Jesser Reid, Women's higher education movement, Bedford College -- History, Women -- Education (Higher) -- England -- History, Women's colleges -- England -- History



Physical Description

1 online resource (v, 141 p.)


Bedford College, established in 1849, was the first institute of higher education for women in England, and with it came the beginning of the women's higher education movement. While Bedford is often dismissed or ignored by modern scholars for not being equal to the women's colleges associated with Cambridge and Oxford, it was crucial in the development of these later colleges and was a bellwether of the women's higher education movement. By examining personal letters and official college documents and carefully assessing later-written histories of Bedford and the other women's colleges, this thesis will explain why and how the College was successfully founded two decades before any other college for women in England. It will also include a thorough discussion of the events that occurred before and during Bedford's establishment, its enigmatic founder Elisabeth Jesser Reid and the role of the women's higher education movement in Bedford's development. This thesis will also show how the successful foundations of Girton and Newnham Colleges at Cambridge University and Lady Margaret Hall and Somerville College at Oxford were made possible by the monumental strides made by Bedford College's influence on the creation of the women's higher education movement.


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Portland State University. Dept. of History

Persistent Identifier