This week is one of the busiest times of the year for the University of Edinburgh, and a momentous week for our brand new students – it’s Fresher’s Week!
The ‘Towards Dolly’ collections are rich in detail about the research and careers of Edinburgh’s scientists, but there isn’t so much concerning the early parts of their lives. So I was especially surprised when, cataloguing the archives of James Cossar Ewart (Professor of Natural History, 1882-1927) during an earlier part of the project, I came across a perfectly preserved diary from his undergraduate days. This small volume, filled with Ewart’s flowery but sometimes erratic handwriting, captures precious details from his own first experiences of student life. In some ways, they don’t differ hugely from the experiences of a fresher from today; in others, they reveal a University on the brink of major changes, particularly where the education of women was concerned. Continue reading