Masson Hall of Residence

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Masson Hall was opened in 1897 as a residence for women students at the University of Edinburgh. The residence, located at 31 George Square, was built through funding generated by a campaign led by the Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women to provide amenities for the female students of the University.

The Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women, previously known as the Edinburgh Ladies Education Association, was founded in 1867 to promote the education and intellectual improvement of women. By campaigning for the university education of women the association established close links with the institution, finding support for their cause in many of its professors. One of the most outspoken in support for the campaign was David Mather Masson (1822-1907), Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (English Literature) at Edinburgh University who gave lectures in English Literature for women through classes put on by the association.

The Universities (Scotland) Act 1889 was produced as a result of the widespread women's movement. The act appointed commissioners to draw up ordinances relating to various aspects of the University system. The Ordinance no.18 (Regulations for the Graduation of Women and for their instruction in the Universities) was passed in 1892 with the first female students graduating in 1893 as a result of accreditation given to attendance of the classes provided by the EAUW. Since the association's main objective had been achieved their attention turned to providing facilities and amenities for the new women students. Their primary concern was to provide a meeting place for the women and a hall of residence to be named Masson in honour of one of their leading champions.

In 1894 Masson Hall Incorporated was established in order that the proposed hall be eligible for grants and bequests, such as the Pfeiffer Trust donation of £2000 and the Phoebe Blyth library gift. The leading activists were Miss Houldsworth and Miss Louisa Stevenson who succeeded in their aim of raising enough funds to buy a property, 31 George Square, and open it as a meeting point and hall of residence 24th November 1897. The association thereafter became administrative until the University took over the running of the halls in 1920. As the education of women at University grew so did the need for increased accommodation. Masson Hall expanded to accommodate more students however, the waiting list for a room was long and so the Edinburgh Association for the Provision of Hostels for Women Students was founded to provide adequate halls of residence. The site at George Square was taken over in 1964 for redevelopment; Masson Hall was relocated to South Lauder Road where it remained until 1994.There is still in existence a Masson House at Pollock Halls.