‘We Must Do This Well If We Do It At All’: Reports On The First Women’s College, Girton, Cambridge, Susanna Cerasuolo
This article examines two artefacts associated with the founding of the first women’s college, Girton College, Cambridge (1869). The first is a cartoon titled ‘St. Valentine’s Day Girton’ which ran in February 1876 in Punch. The second is a selection of archival student progress reports from The Mistresses’ Termly Reports at Girton College, Cambridge (c. 1875-6). The founding of this seminal institution led to much speculation and debate about both the purpose and efficacy of education women at the university level. While Punch satirises the Girton Girls, the Mistresses’ Termly Reports reveal that their education was very demanding, as directed by Girton’s leading founder, Emily Davies. Additionally the young women saw the historic significance of their role and embraced the educational challenges presented to them. This article examines the representation and the reality of a Girton education.