Historic Letter on Women in Higher Education Discovered at St. Andrews

Sophia Jex-Blake

Lis Smith, a Ph.D. student at the Institute of Scottish Historical Research at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, has discovered a 140-year-old document in the university’s archives urging St. Andrews to accept women into its medical program. The seven-page letter was written in 1873 by Sophia Jex-Blake and signed by 10 other women. The letter claimed that there were at least 15 women who would enroll in medical studies if they were permitted to do so. The women offered to arrange for lectures pertaining to women that were not offered at St. Andrews at that time.

In an earlier essay, Jex-Blake had argued, “Medicine as a profession for women were required for those of their own sex who need them.”

St. Andrews did not admit women until 1892. Jex-Blake went on to establish the London School of Medicine for Women in 1874. She graduated with a medical degree from the University of Berne in 1877 and became the third woman physician in Britain. She practiced medicine in Edinburgh and founded the Bruntsfield Hospital for Women. Jex-Blake died in 1912.

Filed Under: ForeignWomen's Studies


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