In 1917, just 503 students were enrolled at Auckland University College (AUC), its lowest enrolment during the years of the First World War. Of those 503 students, 275 were men and 228 women.1 While the number of women was in fact higher than in the previous two years, the introduction of military conscription in August 1916 had further reduced male student numbers, particularly among the senior student body.
The lack of senior men and additional contribution of women to campus life was remarked upon several times in the student magazine Kiwi. The Debating Society for example noted the part played by their women members, who held their own debate on whether the ‘Modern girl is superior to the Early Victorian’ and competed in the First Year and Open debates.2
Among the debaters were Misses Beatrice Butterfield, Bessie Battersby and Beatrice Brendel, who were also members of the Students’ Association Executive (pictured above). For Miss Butterfield, 1917 was a particularly busy year. In addition to student politics and debating, she gave an ‘exceedingly entrancing’ presentation to the Scientific Society, announced her engagement to the Physics Department Laboratory Assistant, Victor Johns and in July took over responsibility for maintaining AUC’s wartime Roll of Honour.3
Miss Butterfield’s busy year is the focus of a small display outside Special Collections, General Library Level G until 2 July, while a new story on the Special Collections First World War Centenary website explores College life in 1917 in more detail.
Katherine Pawley, Special Collections
1 New Zealand. Parliament. (1918). Appendix to the journals of the House of Representatives, E7, 28. Retrieved from AtoJs Online.
2 Auckland University College. (1917). The Kiwi: Official organ of the Auckland University College, 12, 51.
3 Auckland University College. (1917). The Kiwi: Official organ of the Auckland University College, 12, 46, 52; Letter from Registrar to Miss Butterfield, 4 July 1917, Auckland University College letter book 1915-1919. University of Auckland Administrative Archives.