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Video: Women, babies and working men – a radical education in Bloomsbury

6 November 2009

What stories hide beneath the surface of Bloomsbury’s streets and squares?

The UCL Bloomsbury Project is piecing together a history of the people and places of Bloomsbury, and one aspect of their work – educational reform in the area – is explored here in a short film, narrated by Professor Rosemary Ashton and Dr Deborah Colville (both from UCL English).

Early Bloomsbury scientists

The three-year Bloomsbury Project, funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust, brings together a range of researchers from across several disciplines and institutions. The aim of the project is to create an archive, illustrating Bloomsbury’s development into a hub of intellectual life during the 19th century. The period saw several major reforms in education, including the founding of new universities – led by UCL – to provide an alternative to Oxford and Cambridge.

Led by Professor Rosemary Ashton, UCL English, and Professor Anne Hardy of the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL, the study is tracing the foundation of many local institutions, including UCL, University College Hospital, the Homoeopathic Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital, and the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and Women’s Medical School.

Other local 19th-century organisations are featured which reflect the social reforms of the time, including the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, the Bedford College for Women, the Working Men’s and Working Women’s Colleges, and the Passmore Edwards Settlement, which offered education and play to poor children in the area.

The project will also incorporate biographical information about many individuals from the time who made significant contributions to learning. 



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