News

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.

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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.

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