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Leicester Special Collections

Gertrude Vincent

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Gertrude Vincent, 1922

Gertrude Vincent- A prominent female figure

Gertrude Helen Vincent (1877-1965) was the daughter of Sir William Vincent who was the Mayor of Leicester. During William’s term as Mayor Gertrude became the acting Mayoress.  Gertrude was an important female figure as she was a member of various societies in Leicester. One of which was the Leicester Ladies Reading Society which she became a member of in 1904.

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The book by Gertrude Vincent, 1932

Gertrude became secretary of the Leicester Ladies Reading Society in the years 1906-08, 1913-14, 1921-22 and 1928-29 and was appointed president in the between the years of 1909-10. In 1932,  Gertrude wrote a book ‘A History of the Leicester Ladies Reading Society, 1869-1930’ which was produced and presented to the University of Leicester which is still in the University library today. Gertrude was heavily involved in raising money for the University of Leicester. She was honorary secretary for the women’s committee which was formed to help in the efforts to fundraise for the University scheme by hosting a Grand Bazaar and Fete in 1922

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Puppet Show arranged by Gertrude Vincent, 1929

This was a way of helping in the appeal to fundraise money and gifts for the newly founded Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College (opened in 1921). Gertrude was heavily involved in appealing to make this Bazaar & Fete happen. This was a huge success and subsequently raised a huge amount of around £15,206 for the University. Later in 1929 Gertrude also arranged a Puppet Show.

During this time Gertrude was also the Vice-President of the College and was Vice-President for many years until 1935 when she retired to Devon. In her correspondence Gertrude writes about her retirement from her position and urges them to replace her position with another woman.

Letter written by Gertrude Vincent, 1935

Page 2 of the letter written by Gertrude, 1935

The college's response to this shows how it was a ‘great loss’ and that Gertrude had ‘done so much’ for the college in her role as Vice-President. They also urged that Gertrude would reconsider this decision showing how much she had an influence on the college. When she moved to Devon, Gertrude still corresponded to the college saying, ‘I often think of you all’. Gertrude died around 30 years later in 1965 at the age of 88.

Letter responding to Gertrude's resignation as Vice-President, 1935

Gertrude’s Gift to the University

In 1921 Gertrude donated a large collection of books for the University library. This included The New Oxford Dictionary (9 volumes), Cambridge History of English Literature (14 volumes), Cambridge Modern History (14 volumes), Smith and Hamilton’s French Dictionary (2 volumes), Muret Sanders German Dictionary (2 volumes) and the Dictionary of Classical Antiquities.

Newspaper cutting on donation of books, 1921

Gertrude’s contribution just shows the importance of donating by other means and donating what they had to provide the university with important resources. Subsequently Gertrude helped to build up a University library for students and staff to use. This demonstrates the determination of people like Gertrude to provide better higher education at Leicester. Gertrude is someone who dedicated their life to the college giving her time, talent and treasure.

Page curated by Josephine Barnes


Astley Clarke Scrapbook, University of Leicester Archives, ULA/D2/1, p.206.

Golden Book, University of Leicester Archives, ULA/HIS/FOU/1

Leicester, Leicestershire, and Rutland College Reports and Accounts (1921-22), University of Leicester Archives, ULA/P/AR1, p.4.

Newspaper cutting 'Gifts to the Library' (1921), University of Leicester Archives, ULA/PCB1, p.56. 

University of Leicester. Our Founders. Available at: