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Principal's Office of Bedford College

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0505 BC AR101-106
Held at: Royal Holloway, University of London
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Full title: Principal's Office of Bedford College
Date(s): 1943-1985
Level of description: Subfonds of Bedford College
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Extent: 13 boxes or 0.13 cubic metres
Name of creator(s): Bedford College | Principal's Office
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

During the early history of Bedford College, the office of Principal did not exist, the relevant tasks being undertaken by a Lady Resident (for care of the College) and a Lady Superintendent (for care of the Residence). In 1893, the Managers of the Residence finally agreed to the merging of these two offices in the person of a Lady Principal, who had taken over the full management of the Residence by 1894. The successful candidate was Emily Penrose, who was appointed on the understanding that she was an 'educational head' only, her role being that of an advisor of students regarding their studies. The Principal only became an official attendee of Council meetings in 1897 (previously her attendance had been by invitation only) but was still unable to participate in the proceedings. Emily Penrose was from the first a member of the Committee of Education and, after two years, of the Library Committee, but was excluded from the Finance Committee and the House Committee. She became a member of the Staff Meeting upon her appointment as Professor of Ancient History in 1894. Her special duties, besides giving educational advice, included receiving fees and keeping the petty cash account. The office of Vice-Principal was created in 1894, but discontinued in 1897.

In 1898, with the appointment of Ethel Hurlbatt as Principal, the position improved. The Principal became an ex officio member of the teaching staff and the Staff Meeting, and from 1900 onwards was usually the Chairman of the latter. The Principal remained a permanent member when the duties of the Staff Meeting were transferred to the Academic Board in 1909. The Charter of Incorporation of 1909 also made the Principal an ex officio member of the Council, allowing direct participation in the government of the College, a process begun by her appointment as an assessor on the Council in 1902. The 1909 Charter also created the Principal an ex officio member of all Council Committees. Thus the Principal became deeply involved in all aspects of College government, especially relating to educational, financial and building matters.

The role of the Principal later extended to sitting occasionally on the Senate of the University of London, though direct representation was not extended to the various Schools of the University until the constitution was revised in 1929, when the Bedford College Principal had a permanent seat.

The duties of the Principal were never clearly defined, though the office retained responsibility for the welfare and conduct of the students. The office of Senior Student was instituted in 1894 (followed by that of Senior Resident in 1897) to act as a link between the Principal and students. The title remained until 1922, though the method of appointment by the Principal was changed on the creation of the Students' Union in 1913. Staff and Student files were traditionally held by the Principal's Office, though few other records survive as decisions made involving the Principal were chiefly made in Council and Committee meetings.


Scope and content/abstract:

Minutes of the Committee for the Appointment of a Chairman of Council, 1944, 1952-1953; correspondence with departments, 1943-1966, including letters relating to the Fulbright Scheme, 1948-1966, and the Rockerfeller Scheme, 1943-1965; questionnaire on titles for female staff, 1974; Merger and policy issues, including papers and reports on a projected merger with King's College, 1981-1983; Departmental profiles, 1981-1982; papers relating to the Student Entry and Admissions Policy, 1981-1982; papers relating to the Redundancy Policy of Bedford College, 1981-1982; Principal's Council and Committee papers, 1981-1985.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

Arranged 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 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:

Allied Materials

Related material:

The Royal Holloway, University of London Archives hold Personnel files containing material relating to the appointment of Principals, 1929 and 1971 (AR151/1-2); 'Gem Jebb: a portrait' by Francesca Wilson, 1976 (RF141/1/1); a Fawcett lecture by Geraldine Emma May Jebb on 'The life of Dame Margaret Tuke', 1952 (RF141/3); and photographs of various Principals (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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