Life stories

We have been trying to find out about the women who studied History, or who worked in History, at St Andrews over the last 120 years. These are the stories of their lives before, during and after St Andrews – as far as we know them so far! The stories on this page are a mixture: some are based on interviews with living women (and we’ll be releasing more of these over the coming months); others are based on library and archival research into deceased women, and in many of those cases, we really do not know much at all. This is especially the case for graduates from the early twentieth century. If you can help us fill in some of the blanks, please get in touch via

Jane Dawson

Jane Dawson arrived at the University of St Andrews in 1977, and she remembers that her arrival caused something of a stir.  Not only was she the first Glenfiddich Fellow in Scottish …
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Lorna Walker in pink jacket

Lorna Walker

Lorna Walker in 1983. Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Libraries and Museums, ID: Group-1981-53 Lorna Walker studied History at St Andrews in the late 1940s, and returned in the 1960s as …
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Printed list with details of Janet Low's appointment as substitute lecturer

Janet Low (d.1962)

As far as we know, the first woman to teach History formally within the University was Janet Low. She was one of several people, men and women, appointed during the First World …
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Drawing of Anne Wright

Anne Wright (c.1925-1981)

Portrait of Miss Anne Wright, Warden of Hamilton Hall, 1966 to 1980. Image Courtesy of the University of St Andrews Library, ID HC1082 Anne Wright had a life-long connection to St …
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Elizabeth Hutton MA 1903

Elizabeth Peddie Steele Hutton (d.1906) was one of the first two women to graduate M.A. with Honours in History from St Andrews. She graduated in 1903. In contrast to the youthful image of …
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B&W photo of Doris Ketelbey, about 1940

Doris Ketelbey, 1896-1990

(Caroline) Doris Ketelbey was the first woman to hold a long-term position as member of staff in History at St Andrews [read about other early women staff]. She was appointed as an …
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Edith Johnston, MA 1951 PhD 1956

As far as we know, Edith Mary Johnston (1930-2008) was the first female St. Andrews PhD student to go on to an academic career.  Born in Belfast, in 1930 to John Worthington-Johnston …
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Elizabeth Menzies, PhD 1954

Elizabeth Alexandra Menzies, MA 1949, PhD 1954 Elizabeth Menzies appears to have been the third woman to have been awarded a Ph.D. in History from St Andrews, receiving it in 1954 – a …
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Edith Thomson, PhD 1928

Edith Elizabeth Bruce Thomson, MA St Andrews 1923; PhD St Andrews 1928  Edith Thomson was the second woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in History at St Andrews for a thesis entitled ‘Scotland under Lauderdale’. She was …
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Edith MacQueen, PhD 1927

Edith Edgar MacQueen (1900-1977) appears to have been the first woman historian to be awarded a Ph.D. in History by the University of St Andrews. She submitted her thesis in 1927, on …
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