Handwritten minute book of Belfast Ladies' Institute, 1867-1897. This minute book records the names of women present at meetings, the financial position of the organisation and provides detailed coverage of the Belfast Ladies' Institute's campaign to admit women to higher education. For example, the minutes include a copy of a letter sent to the president of Queen's College, Belfast from Belfast Ladies' Institute which states, 'for a considerable time past a feeling has been gathering strength, that more might be done by the Universities for the Education of Women than the instruction of special Examinations, valuable as they are. As long as the means of good teaching is so scanty, and so irregularly distributed, tests of instruction are only applicable to a very limited number.

The only effective remedy is to admit Ladies to share the best teaching, that of the Universities themselves...there is nothing in the constitution of the Queen's University to prevent it from being opened to women...[this] would be an immediate boon to Ladies, and a further benefit of inestimable value to such women of every rank', 22 September 1873.

One folder marked 'Victoria College, Belfast miscellaneous papers'. This folder includes an 8 page typescript entitled 'Some famous old girls' which contains information on Helen Waddell; Anne Acheson, sculptor and Cathleen Nesbitt, actress, amongst others, 1959. The folder also includes a 20 page typescript on the history of Victoria College, Belfast, 1859-1959, no date, c.1959.

One envelope containing the minute book of the Crescent Literary Society, Belfast, 1887-1896. This minute book lists Margaret Byers as the president of this society and provides the names and activities of its women members. For example, at a meeting 'Miss McGlade...then read a papers on the "Pressure for employment among women", and Miss Lynd gave an address on the opposite view of the same question', 27 January 1887.

One box containing 7 miscellaneous volumes of press cuttings, some with handwritten notes and numerous loose leaves of cuttings, 1883-c.1920. Included in the cuttings are letters by Isabella Tod's published in the press, including an article by Isabella Tod on 'Education and Temperance', 8 January 1892; the results of women's intermediate and university examinations; reports of the Women's Temperance and Christian Workers' Association; reports of the Ladies' Collegiate School, Belfast; reports on the Young Women's Christian Association and reports of the Irish Women's Temperance Union.

One folder containing letters relating to a subscription fund for a presentation to Revd. C Davey of Fisherwick Presbyterian Church, Belfast which includes:

3 letters from Margaret Byers, c.1903

A letter from Ellison McClure to Mrs Pouton, the Honorary Secretary of the Belfast Ladies' Institute, regarding the legacy of the late Mrs William Dunville 'being used for the University Scholarship for women in memory of Miss Tod', 7 April 1897

A 10 page printed pamphlet by Margaret Byers, entitled 'Victoria College, Belfast, with some account of its connection with the higher education of women in Ireland', no date. This pamphlet details the opening of university examinations to women and Byers' own teaching career from 1859. For example, it is noted on page 3, 'While educational work of really conscientious women who were providentially pushed into it without any proper intellectual preparation was exceedingly difficult, still a sense of power-imparted an energy and determination that could not perhaps have been inspired in any better way to remove, as far as possible, all obstacles from the path of the next generation, and to overcome some of the educational disabilities which had so cruelly crippled their own life-work.' In addition, on page 7 it is stated that 'In Belfast, as elsewhere, we had to pass through the storm of ridicule incidental to the first attempt of girls to compete with men in public examinations...It was my aim to put within the reach of students of moderate means opportunities so good that the wealthy cannot find better'.

Photographs of Margaret Byers and past headmistresses of Victoria College, Belfast, c.1890-c.1980s; a photograph of past pupils, 1860 and a photograph of the interior of Ladies' Collegiate School, Belfast, c1860.

Framed portraits in oils of Margaret Byers, Isabella Tod and the former headmistresses of Victoria College, Belfast, no date.

A useful publication is Alison Jordan, 'Margaret Byers: pioneer of women's education and founder of Victoria College, Belfast' (Belfast, 1994).

AccessRestricted. Contact Repository.
Century19th, 20th
Repository NameVictoria College Belfast
Address2A Cranmore Park Belfast
UK Postal CodeBT9 6JA
Telephone+44 28-9066-1506
Repository Web Address