Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women

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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, James Miranda Steuart Barry (c1790-1865) 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 (1840-1912) 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 (1839-1877). 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 Mather Masson (1822-1907), Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, 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 the University Calendar thus 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 of Residence, 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.