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Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women

Identifier: Coll-42

Scope and Contents

The collection contains reports and calendars of the Association between 1868 and 1888 as well as class register books, 1867-1892; minutes and scroll minutes spanning 1868 to 1970 (ELEA and EAUEW); certificates in arts and register of names, addresses and subjects passed; blank certificates and diplomas; printed pamphlets on the history of the Association; photographs of the first women graduates. There is the correspondence of Mrs Mary Crudelius; and, acceptances of honorary membership of the ELEA. There are also EAUEW membership lists, 1950 and 1968, and material relating to the winding up of the Association, 1970-1974.


  • Creation: 1868-1974


Conditions Governing Access

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Biographical / Historical

The Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women (EAUEW) had its roots in the second half of the nineteenth century. The first Association of its kind in Scotland, it was involved in a flourishing campaign - part of the wider women's movement - promoting the provision of higher education for women. Prior to this, women had rarely attended University of Edinburgh lectures, although, of course, Dr James Barry had graduated M.D. from Edinburgh in 1812 - serving in the British Army as a medical officer - and on death had been discovered to be a woman. With the arrival of Sophia Jex-Blake in Edinburgh in the 1860s and the vigorous campaign for the medical education of women, the nation-wide demand for women to be offered the same educational opportunities as men - in general arts education or medical subjects - was highlighted. On 15 October 1868, the forerunner of the EAUEW was founded - the Edinburgh Ladies Education Association (ELEA) - at 1 Inverleith Terrace, Edinburgh, and the following year, in 1869, Jex-Blake won the right for women to attend medical classes in the separate Extra-Mural School. The guiding force behind the setting up of the ELEA however, was Mrs Mary Crudelius. Its aim was not to threaten any professional status, but to cultivate and improve the mind through its lectures. Crudelius and others were able to use their influence to win the guidance and advice of David Masson, Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature, a prominent supporter of the women's cause. By 1873, women were enrolled in Association classes as diverse as Mathematics, Moral Philosophy, Chemistry, Physiology, Botany and Bible Criticism. In 1874 a University Certificate in Arts was introduced, and by 1877 the Rules and Calendar of the Association were being printed in theUniversity Calendarthus forging the link between the University of Edinburgh and the cause of women's education. With a change in name (to EAUEW) the Association continued to attract students to its classes, and to campaign to obtain a university education for women. In the end, the debate produced the Universities (Scotland) Act 1889 which led to the drawing up of Regulations for the Graduation of Women and for their instruction in the Universities, 1892. In 1893 eight women graduated from the University of Edinburgh. They had all been EAUEW students. Right from the start, classes were mixed with the exception of medical ones. With its main objective now achieved, the EAUEW turned to the provision of facilities and amenities for women. By 1897, a library and accommodation for women were available at Masson Hall, at that time located at George Square, Edinburgh. By 1914 more than a thousand women had graduated at the University. The EAUEW was wound up in the 1970s.


4 boxes

Physical Location

Gen. 1877

Processing Information

Handlist converted into EAD by Aline Brodin in December 2019.

Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379