School of Continuing and Professional Studies Faculty Publications

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Publication Date

January 2013


©2013 by The History of Science Society. All rights reserved.


The founding of Britain's first horticultural college in 1889 advanced a scientific and coeducational response to three troubling national concerns: a major agricultural depression; the economic distress of single, unemployed women; and imperatives to develop the colonies. Buoyed by the technical instruction and women's movements, the Horticultural College and Produce Company, Limited, at Swanley, Kent, crystallized a transformation in the horticultural profession in which new science-based, formalized study threatened an earlier emphasis on practical apprenticeship training, with the effect of opening male-dominated trades to women practitioners. By 1903, the college closed its doors to male students, and new pathways were forged for women students interested in pursuing further scientific study. Resistance to the Horticultural College's model of science-based women's horticultural education positioned science and women as contested subjects throughout this period of horticulture's expansion in the academy.

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