Odds and quads

These formidable Victorian women all appear in a photograph album which forms part of the archives of the Association of Head Mistresses (AHM), now held in the Modern Records Centre at the University of Warwick.

April 5, 2012

Set up as a trade union of 13 members in 1874, the AHM was originally known as the Association of Head Mistresses of Endowed and Proprietary Schools. Its founder, Frances Mary Buss - headmistress of the North London Collegiate School for Girls - held the office of president until her death in 1894, when she was succeeded by another pioneering figure, Dorothea Beale of the Cheltenham Ladies' College.

The 89 images in the album, all of the size normally used for cartes de visite, were taken by a leading photographic firm: Elliott and Fry of Baker Street, London. They were probably commissioned as a record of the association's membership in 1890.

The AHM survived until 1977, when it amalgamated with the Headmasters' Association to form the Secondary Heads' Association.

The body was renamed the Association of School and College Leaders in 2006.

It remains as the trade union and professional association for headteachers.

Send suggestions for this series on the treasures, oddities and curiosities owned by universities across the world to matthew.reisz@tsleducation.com.

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