13 March 2012
A PhD student researching at the St Andrew's Institute of Scottish Historical Research has discovered a letter written by Sophia Jex-Blake urging the university to study medicine at the university. ...
A PhD student working at the Institute of Scottish Historical Research has discovered a document written by suffragette Sophia Jex-Blake, which urged the unviersity to allow its female students to graduate. The letter, written in July 1873 was signed by eleven women, and in it, Sophia argued: 'The most general objection to the admission of women to universities lies in the supposed difficulty of educating them jointly with male students of medicine.' The letter led to the establishment of a distance learning degree for women by the university, which ran from 1877 until the 1930s.
The seven-page letter was discovered by researcher Lis Smith, who is working on her PhD at the institute. She told BBC Scotland: 'We knew that Sophia Jex-Blake and her supporters, in their quest to open up university medical education for women, had written to the Senatus Academicus at St Andrews in an attempt to gain admittance to classes there, but we didn't know documentary evidence existed.
'While searching the archives for information about the university's higher certificate for women, I was astounded to come across what must be the very letter Jex-Blake wrote.'
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