Opening up the archives

Online records provide a snapshot of student life in pre- and post-war Cambridge.

Records of the earliest meetings of Confraternitas Historica, the College's History society, have been made freely available online. Working from the minute-books kept in Sidney's Muniment Room, a team of undergraduate historians have transcribed accounts of the seminars, meetings and dinners dating back to 1910.

As well as being of interest to past and present members of the College, who might like to see how their predecessors spent their own student days, the records provide a valuable resource for the social and cultural history of the early twentieth century. There are reports of the meetings themselves, describing the topics under discussion, which reveal something of the changing tastes and fashions within the historical profession. There are records of disputes about the openness of the Society to women and the food available to students in inter-war Cambridge. In the entries from the 1940s, there are also scattered references to the progress of the War, including contemporary reflections about the rise of the Nazi party and other events overseas.

Confraternitas Historica was founded by Sidney’s first history Fellow, J.W. Reynolds, as soon as he came to the College in 1910. Although it was not first such History society in Cambridge, it has a claim to have had the longest continuous existence – certainly in Cambridge, and possibly anywhere in Europe. Confrat remains a central focus for the History community at Sidney, and meets regular to hear papers delivered by a range of distinguished speakers (from Sidney Fellows and other historians, to journalists and politicians).

A new website has been launched, to host not only Confrat's archival material but also recordings of its most recent meetings. Click here to listen to a paper given by Dr Jennifer Bishop, Sidney's Junior Research Fellow in History.

You can find out more at https://confraternitas.wordpress.com/

This is an archived news story first posted in May, 2015

If you have something that would make a good news or feature item please email news@sid.cam.ac.uk.

  • Term cards, invitations and menus from the early years of the society
  • Term cards, invitations and menus from the early years of the society