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University College London: Women’s Union Debating Society Minute Book, 1878–88

UCL SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, MS ADD 123/1

The Debating Society represents another contested space. As UCL’s Council refused to permit the admission of women to the male students’ Debating Society, it was necessary for them to form a separate society, which first met on 9 December 1878.

Fittingly the subject of the first debate held was ‘Is discontent a virtue to be cultivated?’ Other early debates focused on nationalism, ‘cheap’ literature and whether education will ‘improve the class of domestic servants’. On display is the proposition that ‘the present dress of women is cumbrous and unhealthy and stands in urgent need of reform’ (f.72).

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