When I arrived at St. Edmund’s in April 1969 I learned that I was the first woman to live in college. Housed in the cottage behind the main house,, I was joined a couple of months later by Margaret Geib. I was a graduate (research) student at the University of Notre Dame (Indiana, USA) and came to Cambridge to do research on the unpublished papers of Isaac Newton for my Ph.D dissertation. My work examined Newton’s notion of ‘explanation’, a hot topic among philosophers of science at that time. I spent most of my time in the Anderson Room of the University Library where Newton’s papers (drafts of the “Principia” and the “Opticks”) were kept.
I have fond memories of my colleagues at St. Edmund’s (Nicholas Lash and Derek Holmes, among others from every part of the world pursuing Cambridge degrees or doing advanced research). Since many of my colleagues were Roman Catholic priests, I got a great deal of help from some of them when my research required better fluency in Latin than my secondary school had provided.
It was a bit embarrassing for me to be waited on in the dining room by the German nuns who oversaw the kitchen and the housecleaning since, I, too, belonged to a religious community, the Sisters of St. Joseph, at the time. I left the religious order many years ago, married, and have been living in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota for many years.
One of my favorite experiences was the Sunday morning Mass in the chapel, attended by local Roman Catholics, as well as house residents, and followed by a lovely “Sunday Lunch.” As a trade off, I helped instruct Michael Hoskins’ daughter in her study of the catechism.
I did return to St. Edmund’s for further Newton research when I had a sabbatical some years later. And this year, on a tour that stopped in Cambridge, I was delighted to be able to come to lunch at the College along with my twin sister, Annette, who had never been there. Thanks to all of you who have overseen the growth and development of St. Edmund’s. I was proud to show her MY Cambridge college!