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The Rising Tide : Confetti and rockets used at Poll, Cambridge University, Cambridge

The Rising Tide

<p style='text-align: justify;'> On 21 May 1897 Cambridge University held a vote about whether to grant full degrees to women. At this time, women could attend lectures (with permission of the lecturer) and sit the same exams as their male counterparts (with permission) but they were not allowed to be members of the University and could not be conferred with a degree. In 1890 Philippa Fawcett topped the exam results but, as a woman, was not awarded a formal qualification. There were several ballots to decide whether to change this inequality, which usually ended with protests by male students. In 1897 male undergraduates showed their opposition by protesting aggressively and noisily outside Senate House, where the vote was taking place. Rockets were set off and items such as eggs were thrown. An effigy of a female cyclist - representing women students - was burned in Market Square.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'><iframe width="600" height="480" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="true" mozallowfullscreen="true" webkitallowfullscreen="true" onmousewheel=""></iframe> <a target='_blank' class='externalLink' href=''>Rocket - 3D model</a></p><p style='text-align: justify;'>A member of the University Library staff collected some of the detritus from the ground after the crowds had dispersed. These fragments of confetti, eggshells, grit and dirt, alongside the spent rockets, are a tangible and unusual reminder of the depth of outrage felt by male students. They also bring home how physically threatening it must have felt for women, who simply wanted their hard work and exam success acknowledged.</p><p style='text-align: justify;'>It is unusual for objects such as these to survive as they were designed to be thrown away. Poignantly, the detritus was housed in a paper cone from a female business owner, the baker and confectioner Susan Elizabeth Emmerson of Market Hill.</p>

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