Mud, gas light and left-handers

Third year students (back row) and professors (front row). Front row, left to right: Theodore Gurney

Third year students (back row) and professors (front row). Front row, left to right: Theodore Gurney, Archibald Liversidge, Robert Allwood, Charles Badham and John Smith Back row: Third year students


The photo above was taken in 1881. John Smith, the University's first Professor of Chemistry, sits at the front, on the extreme right. His colleague Archibald Liversidge is second from the left. The others in the front row are (left to right) Theodore Gurney, Professor of Mathematics, the Vice-Chancellor Canon Robert Allwood and Classics Professor Charles Badham. At odds with the formal academic dress are their mud-stained shoes, a sign of the "deplorable condition" of the University grounds that Hermes was still complaining about 45 years later.

Behind the Professors are the third year students, all 11 of them. The number of first year students that year was 37, not many more than the number (24) that had enrolled right at the start, almost 30 years earlier. The year before, one-time Sydney merchant John Henry Challis had left the University the bulk of his vast estate, encouraging the Senate, in 1882, to establish three new Faculties (Medicine, Law and Science). And in 1881, the Senate moved to "admit women to all University privileges, and to place them in all respects as regards University matters on an equal footing with men". Some would say they're still working on that one.

Looking across the Quadrangle towards the Clock Tower, 1912

Looking across the Quadrangle towards the Clock Tower, 1912

From the Harold Cazneaux Collection of an exam taking place in the Great Hall in 1927

From the Harold Cazneaux Collection of an exam taking place in the Great Hall in 1927

Sources

  • My thanks to Reference Archivist Julia Mant who provided the photos from the University Archives.
  • "Australienne", The Results of the Higher Education for Women From a Woman's Point of View, Sydney University Review, No. 2 (April 1882), 138.
  • Hermes editorials, Dust or Mud, 32 (1) (1926), 2; The Great Hall, 32 (3) (1926), 150.
  • G.L. Fischer, The University of Sydney 1850-1975, University of Sydney (1975).
  • A. Gamble and T. van Sommers, University of Sydney Sketchbook, Rigby (1977).
  • D. Lawton and J. Steele, The Great Hall Guide, University of Sydney, 2nd edn. (1987).
  • C. Turney, U. Bygott and P. Chippendale, Australia's First. A History of the University of Sydney, Vol. 1, 1850-1939, University of Sydney (1991).
  • D. Latham, How Children Learn to Write, Paul Chapman Publishing (2002).