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Lawmakers and Groundbreakers

The Squire Law Library opened its doors to the public for Open Cambridge on Friday 14th and Saturday 15th September. Over 80 people came for a tour of the library, led by David Wills, and to view a specially curated exhibition Lawmakers and Groundbreakers: Cambridge Women and the Law.

Material on display included items from the 17th floor of the University Library tower as well as the Squire’s own collections. Highlights included Panko (a suffrage-themed card game dating from 1908) and parliamentary debates from 1917 on the ‘thorny issue’ of votes for women. Visitors could also explore a timeline of significant moments for women and the legal profession, and find out more about Maud Crofts, a Girton student and one of the first women to qualify and practice as a solicitor in the UK.

Several visitors commented that they had often walked past the building and wondered what it was like inside and really appreciated the opportunity to learn about its inhabitants. Participants enjoyed the exhibition in the setting of the Maitland Legal History Room and many asked about the volumes on the shelves. Plus, there was animated discussion over the tactics of suffragettes, positive discrimination and the need for more statues of women.

The library team are very grateful to the Exhibitions and Public Programmes Team, the UL Rare Books Department, the UL Reference Department and Girton College Library and Archive whose support made this exhibition possible.