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Governors of Bedford College

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0505 BC GB122-129
Held at: Royal Holloway, University of London
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Full title: Governors of Bedford College
Date(s): 1849-1985
Level of description: Subfonds of Bedford College
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Extent: 2 boxes and 5 volumes or 0.07 cubic metres
Name of creator(s): Bedford College | Board
Bedford College | Members
Bedford College | Governors
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The early management structure of Bedford College was decided upon in 1849 by several provisional committees set up for the purpose, and comprised a Board, a Council with executive powers, a Ladies Committee and a Professors Committee.

The Board's powers were those of a court of appeal and a body concerned with questions of constitutional change. The name was not generally used after the first few years, with the full body of members being termed the 'General Meeting'. The Board consisted of the three Trustees, the members of the Ladies Committee, three 'other gentlemen', twelve Professors and the Lady Visitors. The Board elected one lady and one gentleman of their number to sit on the Council at the Midsummer meeting, and electing new members to itself. The draft Constitution framed in 1849 had been adhered to, but never formally ratified by the Board, leaving Bedford College without a legal charter.

Following the dismissal of the Council and a period of control by a Committee of Management in 1868-1869, a Constitution was framed which was accepted by the Board and came into force in 1869. The College was incorporated as an Association under the Board of Trade, with a Memorandum and Articles of Association, and the Board was replaced by a body of Members termed 'The College', the membership of which was not to exceed one hundred, of which at least a third should be women. A new Council was to be created of nine elected Members and the Honorary Secretary. No Staff members were eligible to sit on either body. Changes in the Constitution remained the affair of the Members of the College, as did appeals from the Staff concerning dismissal. Membership of the College was increased to two hundred at two Extraordinary Meetings in 1891.

Following the incorporation of Bedford College by Royal Charter in 1909, the body of the Members of the College became known as the Governors, though there was little change in the powers accorded them. The Governors numbered two hundred in total, with the constitution stating that one-fifth should have attended Bedford College in the past. In 1965 the Charter was altered to allow for up to three hundred Governors.

General Meetings were held annually until 1869, three times a year from 1870-1896, and annually after 1897, with elections being held at the autumn meeting. In 1949 these meetings became known as Governors' Meetings. Special General Meetings were held from 1941-1951 to deal with wartime and post-war problems. From 1909 onwards, all Annual General Meetings were presided over by the Visitor, who was appointed by the Governors for a term of three years. New Governors were appointed in General Meeting following nomination by the Visitor or by any two present Governors. To the Governors also fell the task of deciding the strength and composition of the Council, and, at the Annual General Meeting, choosing several of their number to sit on that body. They were also responsible for the annual appointment of a professional auditor to oversee and report on the finances of Bedford College. In 1973, the Governors were empowered to change the Charter at Annual General Meetings.

The Fellows Sub-Committee was set up to recommend three eminent personages with connections to Bedford College as Fellows. The three became ex officio Governors. Nominations were invited annually from members of the College and submitted to the Committee through the Secretary of the Council. The Fellows Committee comprised two Governors (not Councillors), three Councillors (one of whom was a Staff member), the Deans of the Faculties and the ex officio Committee members (Chairman of Council, Vice-Chairman, Principal, Vice-Principal, and Honorary Treasurer).


Scope and content/abstract:

Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of Bedford College, later known as the Governors Meetings, 1849-1985, including minutes of the provisional General Committee of 1849 which contain copies of the report of the Sub-Committee on the Government of Bedford College and a copy of the original prospectus; typescript Minutes and Agendas of the Special General Meetings to deal with wartime and post-war crises, 1941-1951; Register of Governors, 1909; Minutes of the Fellows Sub-Committee of the Council, 1977-1984.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Mainly bound volumes: other papers are arranged in files according to subject.

Conditions governing access:

Administrative and Committee papers are closed for 30 years from the last date on file. Papers relating to individuals are usually closed for 100 years from the subject's birth. Users are advised to consult the College Archivist for specific details.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Copies of open material may be supplied, subject to the condition of the original. Requests to publish original material should be directed to the College Archivist.

Finding aids:

'A catalogue of the Archives of Bedford College (University of London), 1849-1985' by Claire Gobbi Daunton and Elizabeth Bennett, 1987.

Archival Information

Archival history:

The papers were transferred from the Bedford College Archives when the College merged with Royal Holloway in 1985.

Immediate source of acquisition:

See Archival history.

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Royal Holloway, University of London Archives hold Registrar's papers including material relating to the Annual General Meeting, 1967-1984 (BC AR272/1/1-2). Secretary's papers containing correspondence with past and present Governors, 1906-1985; correspondence relating to the Annual General Meeting, 1983-1984; correspondence with Visitors, 1897-1957, and the Visitors Book, 1869-1968; and correspondence, notices and minutes relating to Fellows of the College, 1928-1985 (BC AR386/1-4); the Fellows Book (BC GB104/2); and photographs of various Governors and Visitors (BC PH1).

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

A history of Bedford College for Women, 1849-1937 (Oxford University Press, London, 1939), by Dame Margaret Jansen Tuke; Educating women: a pictorial history of Bedford College, University of London, 1849-1985 (Alma Publishers, Surrey, 1991), by Dr Linna Bentley.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the AIM25 project.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with general International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Mar 2000

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