The Girton College Working Women's Summer School was run in the summers of 1945 and 1947, on the lines of the schools which had been held biennially at Newnham College since 1922. In 1944 the number of applications to Newnham had been so large that it was suggested that Girton might run a similar school in alternate years.
The aim of the school was to provide, for women whose formal education had ended at the age of fourteen, an opportunity to fit themselves to enjoy more advanced work and to open the way to new interests and a wider outlook on life. Members of the school shared the life of those Girton students who were resident for the Long Vacation Term in all except their work. Members of the Roll responded generously to appeals for funding and their subscriptions not only covered the general running expenses and lecturers' fees but also enabled bursaries to be awarded to some members of the school to help with travelling expenses and the cost of accommodation in Girton.
Members of the Girton committee which organised the first school in 1945 were: M G Jones (Chairman), Mary Cartwright (Hon Treasurer), Ann Bishop, Helen Cam, K M E Murray, Rosemary Syfret, and Helen McMorran (Hon Secretary).
Each Summer School catered for around thirty women ranging in age from their late teens to their sixties. For the majority their fortnight in August of studying at Girton was also their annual holiday. They were offered a range of subjects, all taught by members of Girton: the 1945 school offered Citizenship and Government under Helen Cam, English Literature under M C Bradbrook, The Historical and Geographical Background of the International Situation under Mrs Osborne and M G Jones, The Human Body and How it Works under Mrs Parsons, and How to Enjoy and Understand Music under Miss Daphne Bird. In addition, all had to take written and spoken English in classes run by Miss Hammond, Miss Rosemary Syfret and Miss Philippa Pearce. As well as formal teaching, there was time for private reading and study and organised general activities and outings.
As a serious experiment in adult education, it was felt that every participant gained something in knowledge and that the majority had foundations and inspiration on which to build future reading and learning.
The 1947 school appears to have been the last one, and the balance of subscriptions was eventually donated to Hillcroft College in Surrey in 1956 (see GCIP WWSS 1/1).
The surviving archives of the WWSS comprise the following: accounting papers; advertisements; correspondence with the journals and organisations through which the schools were advertised; application forms and related correspondence; lists of participants; papers concerning teaching and programmes of activities; press reports; and a group photograph of the 1947 school (see GCIP WWSS 3/2). Most of the papers date from the mid-1940s, with the exception of the financial papers and correspondence, which continue until 1956.