Students at the University of Sydney

Students in the early years

This webpage provides brief information about the beginnings / establishment of the Faculty of Arts, and photos of its early students and graduates.

View more information and photos about early women Arts students.

On this webpage:


Click on images for enlargement.


FACULTY OF ARTS 1852 (now Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences)

Milestones

1852:  The Faculty of Arts was the first and only Faculty of the University of Sydney. 
  There were 24 male students in its first intake: Charles Allen, Marshall Burdekin, Thomas Clarke, Thomas Coulson, William Curtis, Robert Fitzgerald, Frederick Forshall, William Hirst, James Johnson, John Kinloch, George Leary, Joseph Leary, Edward Lee, David Mitchell, William Moore, Alexander Oliver, Henry Radford, Rodney Riddell, Alexander Raby Riley, Robert Sealy, Fitzwilliam Wentworth, Robert Willis, James Wilson and William Charles Windeyer.
  Although the Faculties of Medicine and Law were established in 1856, they were only for examining, not teaching, and therefore the Faculty of Arts was the only teaching faculty for some 30 years.
  The original curriculum for the Bachelor of Arts degree was:
– the Greek and Latin languages, with Greek and Roman History
– Mathematics pure and mixed
– Chemistry and Experimental Philosophy.
1856: The first Bachelor of Arts graduates were Marshall BurdekinWilliam CurtisRobert FitzgeraldEdward LeeDavid Scott MitchellRobert Willis and William Charles Windeyer.
1857: Lectures by the original 3 professors had been given in a building of the former Sydney College in College Street until they were moved to the Quadrangle.
1859: The first Master of Arts graduates were Marshall BurdekinWilliam CurtisRobert  FitzgeraldJames JohnsonJohn KinlochEdward LeeDavid Scott Mitchell and William Charles Windeyer.
1881: Senate unanimously decided to allow the admission of women.
1882: The first two women students were Mary Brown and Isola Thompson, along with 79 men undergraduates.
  Science became a faculty in its own right.
1885: Mary Brown and Isola Thompson were the first two women graduates.
1900: 162 men and 62 women undergraduate students were enrolled in the Faculty.
1912: The Department of Economics and Commerce shifted from the Faculty of Law to the Faculty of Arts, as originally intended.
1920: Economics became a faculty in its own right.
1930: By this decade, women undergraduate students outnumbered men in the Faculty, with 429 men and 442 women.
1959: John Sutcliffe was the first to gain a Doctor of Philosophy in the Faculty.
2008: The Department of Political Economy was established in the Faculty of Arts.
2011: The Discipline of Economics, the Centre for International Security Studies and the Graduate School of Government were transferred from the Faculty of Economics and Business to the Faculty of Arts.
  The Faculty became the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, comprising the Schools of Economics; Letters, Arts & Media; Language & Culture; Philosophical & Historical Enquiry; and Social & Political Sciences.
2012: There were 6,107 women and 3,430 men students enrolled in the Faculty as at 31 March. 

Gallery

In the 1850s
William Charles Windeyer   David Scott Mitchell  
William Charles Windeyer,
one of the first 24 students,
photo, University of Sydney
Archives
.
David Scott Mitchell,
another of the first students,
photo 1864,
Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW,
Digital order number: a928383
.

Students in 1857

Arts students in 1857 including Henry Chamberlain Russell (standing, 3rd from right), who later became Vice-Chancellor of the University, when lectures commenced in the unfinished Main Building, photo G3_224_0343, University of Sydney Archives.

Students in 1859

Arts students in the Quadrangle's north vestibule door in 1859, standing near the entrance to Professor Woolley's residence, photo by Professor John Smith, University of Sydney Archives.

In the 1860s
The Museum of Antiquities

In 1860 Sir Charles Nicholson presented his valuable collection of antiquities to the University, which formed the basis of a museum. Three rooms were prepared for its display at the southern end of the East range, for the illustration of the classical lectures in the Faculty of Arts and for public access, photo, courtesy of the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney.

A plaque in memory of University student Frederick Mate who died in 1864

A plaque in memory of University student Frederick Mate who died on 4 August 1864 aged 20 - erected by his friends and other members of the University and located in the South Vestibule of the Quadrangle's East range, photo, University Secretariat.

In the 1870s
A group of administrative and academic staff and students in 1879.

A group of administrative and academic staff and students in 1879, photo G3_224_0262, University of Sydney Archives.

In the 1880s
Professors and third year students in 1881

Professors and third year students in 1881, photo 1881_990, University of Sydney Archives. Front row: Professor Gurney, Professor Liversidge, Canon Allwood (Professor and Vice-Chancellor), Professor Badham and Professor Smith.

Mary Elizabeth Brown   Isola Florence Thompson

Mary Brown,
one of the first two women Arts
graduates, in 1885,
photo G3_224_1349,
University of Sydney Archives

Isola Thompson,
the other woman Arts graduate
in 1885,
print from a wood-carving,
'Illustrated Sydney News',
6 June 1885,
National Library of Australia

Male undergraduate Arts students performed Aeschylus’ play 'Agamemnon' in Greek in the Great Hall in 1886, photo, University of Sydney Archives.

In the early 1900s
A group photo of Arts graduates in 1908

A group photo of Arts graduates in 1908, photo G3_224_0398, University of Sydney Archives.

John Henry Asher

John Henry Asher
an Arts I evening student,
was one of many University of Sydney
staff, students and graduates
who enlisted in World War I. 
He died of wounds in France,
in September 1917.
Photo from 'Hermes'

 Kenneth Allen Bell

Kenneth Allan Bell, Arts III,.
enlisted on 22 June 1915,
and was killed in action
at Pozieres, France,
on 26 July 1916.
Photo H13904, courtesy of the
Australian
War Memorial Website  

 

William Keating Brennan 

William Keating Brennan
was in Arts I when he enlisted.
He died of wounds at Gaza,
Palestine, on 20 April 1917.
Photo P05074.001,
courtesy of
the Australian War
Memorial website 

George Robert Duncan 

George Robert Duncan, Arts I,
was killed in action on
23 July 1916 at Pozieres,
Somme Sector, aged 19.
Photo P08921.001, courtesy of the
Australian War Memorial website.


In the 1920s
A group of Arts students in 1926

A group of Arts students in 1926, photo G3_224_2715, University of Sydney Archives

In the 1930s
Professor John Le Gay Brereton giving a lecture in the Great Hall in 1932.

Professor John Le Gay Brereton, professor of English literature, giving a lecture in the Great Hall in 1932, photo G3_224_0723, University of Sydney Archives. He died suddenly on 2 February 1933.

AJ Goran, TG Jones and John Passmore
Gerda Holterhoff, Mary Brimacombe and WHC Eddy

Top: Gerda Holterhoff, Mary Brimacombe and WHC Eddy; and above: AJ Goran, TG Jones and John Passmore – some of the honours Arts graduates in May 1934, photos, 'The Sydney Morning Herald', 8 May 1934, National Library of Australia.

In the 1950s
Arts students at the University

Performing the Sourtido, a national Philippines dance, were Betty Regala with Teddy Marquez (Arts III), Adelina Agbayani (Arts III) and Bob Regala (Arts III) at the International Club's Ball held in 1952 in the Union Refectory, photo from 'The Sunday Herald', 3 August 1952, National Library of Australia.

The Arts Ball, 13 July 1954

Jan Seiffert (Arts I) dressed as a gypsy admires the pumpkin carried by Gillian Mullen (Arts II) who was dressed as a witch, at the Arts Ball held in the Union Refectory on 13 July 1954, photo from 'The Sydney Morning Herald', 14 July 1954, National Library of Australia.

In the 1960s
At the Sydney University Arts Society Ball in July 1960

Harpo Marx mask worn by Simon Leigh, with Rosalind Smith, at the Sydney University Arts Society Ball held at the Empress Ballroom in July 1960, photo from 'The Australian Women's Weekly', 27 July 1960, National Library of Australia.

In the 1980s
Mr Yang Chao-guang, one of the nine PRC graduates, accepting his Master of Arts degree from the Chan

Mr Yang Chao-guang, one of the nine People's Republic graduates, accepting his Master of Arts degree from the Chancellor, Sir Hermann Black in 1981, photo G77_1_0513, University of Sydney Archives.

Today
The Postgraduate Welcome and Orientation Evening on 25 February 2010

The Dean of the then Faculty of Arts, Professor Duncan Ivison, welcomed incoming postgraduate students at the Postgraduate Welcome and Orientation Evening held on 25 February 2010, photo, Faculty news website ... more.

MECO Students Win Prestigious China Internships

Two Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) students Callie Henderson and Tanya Sun were awarded internships with the China Daily, based in Beijing, in 2011, photo, the Faculty's News website ... more.

Media and Communications students win prized ABC internships

Three media students – Shaun Colnan, Rebecca Simpson and Robert Johnson – won internship positions at the ABC in 2011, photo, the Faculty's News website ... more.

Faculty students attend KIAS Undergraduate conference in Alberta

Three students from the Faculty – Simon Factor, Jessie Snodgrass and Cale Hubble – gave talks at the Kule Institute for Advanced Study Undergraduate Student Conference in Alberta, Canada, in 2011, photo, the Faculty's News website ... more.

Information sources
  • University of Sydney Calendar Archive
  • National Library of Australia newspapers
  • Planning and Information Office student enrolments


Lis Bergmann, 2012