Internship opportunity: discover the hidden histories of women at Trinity

In the Chapel at Trinity there lies the tomb of the sister of Robert Smith, Master of Trinity, 1742–1798. Close to High Table is a precise copy of ‘Master John’s’ portrait of Katherine Parr, the sixth wife of Henry VIII, who founded Trinity in 1546. Some say it is Katherine who persuaded the King to endow the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity, not long after dissolution of the monasteries.

Katherine Parr is reputed to have played a key role in Trinity’s history. Portrait by Ulyana Gumeniuk

Ulyana Gumeniuk painted the portrait of Katherine during her Fellowship in the Creative Arts at Trinity, 2009–2011, in recognition of Katherine Parr’s pivotal role in the College’s history.

These are just some of the stories about women at Trinity – until relatively recent times, on the fringes and behind the scenes of the College, with unknown degrees of influence.

It is their stories and countless others that a Trinity student will research during a summer internship as part of plans to mark 40 years since female undergraduates arrived at the College.

Women of Trinity with the portrait of Queen Elizabeth I in Hall.  © Graham CopeKoga

Trinity is not alone (and was not the last) College in Cambridge or Oxford to admit women 40 years ago – as postgraduates in 1976, as Fellows in 1977 and as undergraduates in 1978.

A variety of projects conceived by students, alumnae and Fellows at Trinity will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the College becoming co-educational at a special event in spring 2019. The Hidden Histories of Women at Trinity – a booklet and tour through the College grounds – is one such initiative.

Dr Emma Widdis said:

Trinity may have been the preserve of male Fellows until the 1970s – although of course there were many women here, whether as cleaners, the wives of Masters and Fellows, or celebrated visitors such as Mary Somerville and Virginia Woolf.

We want to find out more about them and their experiences at Trinity. What roles did they play behind the scenes and what are the legacies of their influence?

This is a fabulous opportunity for a student interested in history and women’s issues, in rooting around in archives and talking to a variety of people at the College and beyond about their memories and experiences.

The skills tested and acquired will stand you in good stead for your future career –you’ll come out with a published booklet, an extended essay, and the credit for conceiving an unusual tour of the College, highlighting sites –– the ante-chapel and the Fellows’ Gardens for example –– where women have left their mark.

Dr Widdis with photographic portraits of women Fellows of Trinity by Eugenio Polgovsky. © Graham CopeKoga

Good research and writing skills, as well as curiosity and interest in the subject, are key requirements. The 4-6 week internship includes accommodation at Trinity and a stipend of £220 per week. Applicants are asked to send 500 words about why they are interested in this project and a CV (two sides of A4 maximum) to communications@trin.cam.ac.uk by 20 July 2018.

The successful candidate will liaise with Dr Widdis, Professor Adrian Poole and a member of the teaching staff in history during his/her internship, which will take place during August and September 2018 (in two-week blocks).

The opportunity is open to any undergraduate or postgraduate student at Trinity College.

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