Historic papers reveal life of Edwardian schoolgirls

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Thousands of old photographs, exam papers, magazines and books unearthed from the cellars of some of the country's leading girls' schools have revealed a remarkable picture of school life in Victorian and Edwardian Britain.

File after file emerged after school heads were encouraged by the Girls' Schools Association to scour their buildings for historic documents. Among them were stories of girls taught to be dutiful housewives who could wash shirt cuffs properly and control household dust, and children as young as 11 sitting down to tough examinations in which they were expected to be able to draw maps of the physical geography of Australia and tackle questions of grammar such as identifying predicates in passages of writing.

The documents, which will be a goldmine for historians, also held accounts of university life from as early as 1883, when young women would fit tennis and tea parties around eight hours of study each day.

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