Ethel Wallace

1889 - c.1992

In 1991, at the age of 102 years old, Ethel Wallace, a former Oxford student contacted the Museum to share some of her recollections as a rare woman student at the university studying in the museum in the early twentieth century.


Degree students in 1920 - H Deneke memoir

By kind permission of the Principal and Fellows’ of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford

Although women students could study at the university in women’s colleges as early as 1879, it wasn’t until 1920 that women were allowed to graduate with a degree. Ethel Wallace came to Oxford in 1908, initially to study botany, however, switching to zoology due to intolerance of teaching staff at the time to teach only the most exceptional female students in mixed classes.

Ethel described dissections of animals every single day, filling out the blank pages of a dissection book with anatomical illustrations and lectures. Her final year project was on the evolutionary relationships of birds and other dinosaurs.

Ethel was one of the first women to graduate in 1921 when the university statutes were changed to allow women who had previously taken university examinations to finally get the degree they had earned.


As picked by...

mark carnall

Mark Carnall, Collections Manager, Life Collections