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'An Autobiography by Lucy Joan Slater of Cambridge': Chapter 9: Cambridge in the 1950s, 1990

Reference Code: GBR/0271/GCPP Slater 1/9

Scope and Contents

Pages 124-138 (the last page of this chapter and the first page of Chapter 10 are both numbered 138). A visit to Cambridge in March 1951, during which she revisited Edsac (Electronic Delayed Storage Automatic Calculator), encouraged L J S to seek work in the new Computing Laboratory there, although she was astonished at the lack of basic facilities for women compared with her student experience elsewhere. In May 1951 she was interviewed by Dr J C P Miller and Prof Mordell at the Computing Lab and by Bertha Jeffreys at Girton. In spite of an initial impression that Cambridge was stuffy and not for her, she accepted a place as a research student with an attachment to Girton, in the charge of Bertha Jeffreys, with Alison Duke as her tutor. L J S and her mother moved to 30 Oxford Road, Cambridge, which remained L J S’s home for the rest of her life.
At first she found the concept of college life difficult to understand: she backs this up with an anecdote concerning dinner at ‘Little High’ at Girton and a description of her matriculation in November 1951 ‘after a bit of a difference with Miss Duke’.
L J S says that she was ‘only the second woman to use’ Edsac: she gives detailed descriptions of how it worked, of her work on it and with Dr Miller, and of the work of Dr Wilkes and Eric Mutch in putting it together. She recalls the continued lack of facilities for women; sharing a room and a desk with Fred Hoyle; and working through the night in order to get use of the machine. In two years, L J S produced a Cambridge PhD thesis. She then took up a fellowship at Newnham College. She describes her interviews there with Miss Grimshaw, Dame Myra Curtis and Sheila Edmonds. She also recalls good food in Newnham and dining in good company, ‘no longer conscious of my Lancashire accent’ (she mentions Sir John Cockcroft, also ‘Mrs Nahru’ [?], ‘in Cambridge to give the first speech -- - of the new Women’s Union’). She also includes brief mention of various Newnham acquaintances, including Dr Gertrude Ellis, geologist; Prof Toynbee, archaeologist; Dame Myra Curtis (who persuaded L J S to make a £5 donation to the Third Foundation for Women [New Hall]); and Ruth Cohen, economist, who was interested in the possibilities of computers for economics.
This chapter includes a paragraph on the establishment and activities of the Cambridge Women’s Research Club, ‘founded 1919 by Miss [Enid] Welsford’: L J S joined the Club in 1954 and became its treasurer.


  • Creation: 1990



1 file(s) : Paper

Language of Materials



Slater, Lucy Joan

Finding aid date

2013-05-28 09:52:27+00:00

Repository Details

Part of the Girton College Archive Repository

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