University life in the 1920s revealed through historical interview

A new project organised by our University is making a number of oral history interviews with people who lived during the 19th and 20th centuries available online.

Among the archived recordings is a discussion with Nora Waddington about her experience studying as a student at Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College – the forerunner of the University of Leicester – between 1924 and 1926.

The interview sheds a fascinating light on the experience a typical university student would have had in the 1920s, mentioning that classes were significantly smaller, with some lecturers teaching classes of just one student.

Staff and students in 1926
Nora also mentions how the majority of university students lived at home and commuted either by bike or train – a contrast to today, where students often travel from far and wide and live in university accommodation.

She also recounts a Christmas in 1924 where a Christmas tree was put up on campus and all the students were given a Christmas present.

However, Nora also describes some similarities with the modern university experience, including joining societies and sports clubs, as well as experiencing nights out – although rather than nightclubs they took the form of formal dances and Saturday hops.

The project is a partnership between the University Library and the East Midlands Oral History Archive (EMOHA). Over 400 recordings are being placed online, with a formal launch planned for March 2017.