Women have only been permitted to study at Scottish universities since 1892. Before that, the movement for the higher education of women was strong in Glasgow and in 1877 the Glasgow Association for the Higher Education of Women was founded. The principal of Glasgow University at the time, John Caird, was the first Chairman of its General Committee.
The Association offered lectures by University professors in class rooms at the University. In 1883 the Association became the Queen Margaret College, the first and only college in Scotland to provide higher education for women.
The Queen Margaret College was based on Queen Margaret Drive, across the street from the Botanic Gardens just north of the University. When women were allowed to study at University from 1892 onwards, the Queen Margaret College merged with the University of Glasgow. The building on Queen Margaret Drive remained in use for teaching, although with time the uses of the building moved to Gilmorehill, eventually leaving the building solely for administrative purposes in 1934.
Queen Margaret College was fully incorporated into the the University of Glasgow in 1935, with the building on Queen Margaret Drive becoming the headquarters of BBC Scotland. The student union of the Queen Margaret College, the Queen Margaret Union, which spent its time moving around Gilmorehill after its inception, became the University’s female-only student union, alongside the male-only Glasgow University Union.
The above plaque, located on the backside of the Round Reading Room, commemorates Frances Helen Melville, the last mistress of Queen Margaret College from 1909 to its closure in 1935 and the first female Bachelor of Divinity in Scotland.
The University of Glasgow Story website has an article on the history of women at the University, much more detailed than the above. In addition, a book was launched this month titled ‘Ladies First: The History of the Queen Margaret Union’.
I mentioned Queen Margaret 14 times in this post. Who is this Queen Margaret that the Queen Margaret College was named after? The answer: Saint Margaret of Scotland (c. 1045-1093), the wife of King Malcolm III.
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