Trinity College Dublin's newest exhibition marks the centenary of the foundation of Trinity Women Graduates in 1922.
Entitled ‘If a female had once passed the gate … ’: Trinity Women Graduates Centenary Exhibition 1922-2022, the exhibition is now on display in the Long Room. It is also available as an online exhibition on the Trinity Library website and on Google Cultural Institute.
The exhibition's title comes from a statement the Board of Trinity College Dublin made in 1895 when considering the "risks" associated with admitting female students to the College.
“If a female had once passed the gate it would be practically impossible to watch what buildings or chambers she had entered or how long she might remain there," reads the statement, which is on display as part of the exhibition.
However, in January 1904, following a long campaign, the first three female students were admitted to Trinity, making it the first of the historic universities of Ireland and Britain to admit women. A further 47 were admitted the following September.
"Once admitted, female students were subject to strict regulations because their presence was judged to be a danger to the men," said Grace O'Malley, Chair of Trinity Women Graduates Centenary Committee.
"These rules and regulations did not deter women and by 1922 there were sufficient women in Trinity to warrant the foundation of an alumni society. A century later, sixty per cent of the student body is female and the university is led by a woman.”
Developed in partnership with the Library of Trinity College Dublin, the exhibition features highlights of the Trinity Women Graduates archive. Photographs, letters, administrative records and collected reminiscences trace the long campaign for admission, the achievements of early women graduates and the struggle for equality by female students and staff.
It forms part of the wider Trinity Women Graduates Archive Project, which involves the cataloguing, conservation, and partial digitization of the Trinity Women Graduates archive as part of the Virtual Trinity Library project.
“The main aim of Trinity Women Graduates was to afford members an opportunity to stay connected with the university and each other," said Ciara Daly, Project Archivist, Library of Trinity College Dublin, and curator of the exhibition.
"The archive comprises minute books, accounts, administrative records and photographs. It also contains reminiscences that were collected for Susan Parkes’ book 'A Danger To The Men?: A History of Women in Trinity College, Dublin 1904-2004.'
"These records and reminiscences give a deeper insight into the lived experiences of these women and ensures that the voices and experiences of these women form part of the historical record of both Irish society in the twentieth century and Trinity College Dublin.”
Highlights of the exhibition include the 1865 statement from the Board of Trinity College Dublin; an 1892 petition signed by 10,560 “Irish Women of the educated classes” in favor of the admission of women to Trinity; a 1908 statement of official "Regulations for Women;" a calligraphic memorial of the first women to be elected as Fellows of the College in June 1968; photographs, and more.
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