Suffragettes and Oxford High

16 October 2015

The very origins of OHS are embedded with the Oxford Suffrage societyMrs Max Muller and Eleanor Smith were both key figures and members of the committee that helped to establish Oxford High School in 1875. Some of the girls that went on to raise their banners for the cause include the Rhys sisters, Myfanwy and Olwyn who attended the school between 1884-90 and 1884-93 respectively.  Myfanwy played a leading role in the Oxford Women’s Suffrage Society as its first secretary until 1907.  The Sidgwick sisters, Ethel, Rose and Margaret all played an active part in OHS life, seen through magazine editorials.  Margaret’s name features on the executive committee of the National Union Of Women’s Suffrage Societies along with other OHS girls. Annie Rogers, teacher of Latin at OHS from 1893 was a forceful character within numerous Oxford circles, including the suffragettes.  Her father Professor Thorold Rogers, had been one of the pioneers of the Oxford movement together with Eleanor Smith, OHS founding committee.  There are accounts of Annie’s assertive and bossy character causing irritation to fellow members (Bradley and Sweet, 2009).

However, many Oxford based educationalists, including Elizabeth Wordsworth (Principal of Lady Margaret Hall and founder of St Hugh’s College), Lucy Soulsby (Headmistress of Oxford High School 1879-1889) and Mary Ward (one of the founders of Somerville College) chose to disassociate themselves from the more militant elements of the women’s rights movement, but also opposed female enfranchisement (Bush, 2005).


Bibliography and Further Reading Recommended:

Annual Reports Of Women’s Suffrage Society:  Bodleian Library

Bradley, K., 2009. Women In The Professions Politics And Philanthropy1840-1940. Canada: Trafford Publishing

Oxford High School Magazines and School Registers from 1875 – 1910

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