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Exploring the archives: From “The Diary of a Lady Student”

ByManvir Dobb

Oct 4, 2019

In this week’s edition of The Student archives, we explore “The Diary of a Lady Student” from 1893. The title itself presents the abnormality of being a female student, let alone writing for The Student, and the content offers even more insight into such an experience.

It is clear to see this particular “lady student” was fiercely ahead of her time: despite being exposed to the intimidation of her male colleagues (much like her friend Daisy who felt her otherness to such a state of “quivering” that her ability to finish her education was put to question), she unwaveringly describes her opinions of the male sex in a variety of imaginative phrases with no fear of repercussion.

The array of synonyms is endless. Phrases such as “barbarians”, “silly boys”, “creatures”, and “curious jealous men” plant the idea that before the entry of women into higher education, university must have been a real-life reenactment of Lord of the Flies. It certainly provides newfound and more intimate respect for what The Edinburgh Seven must have been through.

In addition to the clear stratification of the sexes, the article also highlights student involvement in politics; a theme which after looking at the success of the recent Climate Strike still resonates deeply within the student body today.

However, possibly the most relatable comment of it all is the bleak truth of the first sentence: it seems that “pottering about doing nothing very particular” is a timeless classic for every student. Maybe this is the “universal” university experience which last week’s archive was trying to find.

Have no clue about last week’s article? Perhaps it is time for you to explore the previous edition, which featured “Exploring the archives: ‘Advice to Freshers’ and ‘Staff Wanted’” and is available on our website.


Image: The Student’s archives from 1893, showing the diary entry of a lady student

By Manvir Dobb

Editor in Chief

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