All this week Dayton Haskin has been working in the reading room, a professor at Boston College, Newton, Massachusetts, USA; he has been looking at some material from the University of London Archive. I asked Dayton why this material was of particular interest to him and how it was relevant to his research.
‘I am working on a book about how English Literature was turned into an academic subject in American colleges and universities, c. 1870-1910. These institutions created ‘English’ departments and associated curricula ahead of the Oxford English School (c. 1904) and the Cambridge Tripos for English (c. 1917). However, precedents for faculties such as these had already been set in other British Universities as evidenced by, for example, the UoL BA exam papers and the University Extension Lectures. The exam questions and associated syllabi found in the University Calendars and material in the Extra Mural studies archive are my main sources. I have been aided by two catalogues compiled by Piers Cain, 1982, one regarding the Extra Mural department and the other Examination Registers. Within English Literature I have been concentrating on how Shakespeare and Milton were made into academic subjects.’
These are the records created by the University’s Central Administration, which are listed online. These records reflect that, from its inception, the University of London was at the forefront of fundamental change by its inclusion of non-conformists, women, and external students from all around the globe.