Papers of Anna Bidder

Scope and Content

This collection comprises a wide variety of material that encompasses the life of Anna Bidder from early childhood through to retirement, taking in her education, research and teaching career, her role in the foundation and development of Lucy Cavendish Collegiate Society, and her membership of the Society of Friends. It includes correspondence, photographs, printed publications, notes and writings, press cuttings and ephemera. The collection also includes correspondence and biographical material relating to the parents of Anna Bidder, namely George Parker Bidder III and Marion Greenwood, both of whom were prominent scientists in their field. And, it also includes material concerning the respective histories and commercial interests of the Bidder and Greenwood families.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born in Cambridge on 4 May 1903, daughter of George Parker Bidder III, zoologist, and Marion Greenwood, biologist. Educated at Perse Girls School, Cambridge (1915-1921) and University College London (1921-1922), and then to Newnham College, Cambridge where she read Natural Sciences and Zoology (1922-1926). She was a research student at the University of Basle, Switzerland (1926-1928), and then undertook research at the Marine Biology Laboratories in Banyuls-sur-mer, Italy and Plymouth, England (1928-1934). She was awarded a Ph.D. on 'Functional morphology of the Cephalopod digestive system' in 1934. The digestive system of the Pearly Nautilus remained a principal research interest throughout her life. From 1929 until 1965 she taught in the Zoology Laboratory at the University of Cambridge and Newnham College, and was the Hugh Watson Curator of Malacology in the Museum of Zoology (1961-1970). She served as President of the Zoological Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science for 1973, and was elected as Fellow Honoris Causa by the Linnaean Society of London in 1991. Publications: Co-author of the volume on Cephalopods in P. Grasse's Traite de Zoologie (1989) Anna Bidder was one of three Newnham graduates (the others being Margaret Braithwaite and Kathleen Wood-Legh) who instituted the Dining Group in 1950. The Dining Group became formally known as The Society of Women Members of the Regent House who are not Fellows of Colleges, and its purpose was to have concern for the needs of women with home responsibilities trying to maintain or resume their academic responsibilities. The group was formally recognised by the University of Cambridge, as an Approved Society for women graduates in 1965. Anna Bidder was a Founding Fellow of the Lucy Cavendish Collegiate Society and served as its first President from 1965-1970, becoming an Honorary Fellow in 1970. Anna Bidder joined the Society of Friends in 1926 and remained active in the Society throughout her life. She served on the Society of Friends Peace Committee (1939-1946), and in 1951 attended the World Peace Council Conference in Berlin. In 1963 she was a co-author of the controversial Towards a Quaker View of Sex. She died in Cambridge on 1 October 2001. Catharine M. C. Haines (2001) International Women in Science: A biographical dictionary to 1950 includes an entry for Anna Bidder.


The papers are arranged into twelve series: childhood and early education; family and personal; domestic residences; wartime papers and memorabilia; religion and Quakerism; academic matters; the Dining Group and Lucy Cavendish Collegiate Society; university memorabilia; correspondence; photographs; printed material; and ephemera

Access Information

The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Lucy Cavendish College Archive. A prior appointment and proof of identity are required.

Acquisition Information

Assorted personal and family papers were received from Anna Bidder in the mid-1990s. Correspondence to Anna Bidder and papers relating to family business or estate were transferred from Cambridge University Library in 2000. These two collections were brought together as a single archival collection in March 2002

Other Finding Aids

Listed to file level. As at 2008 a collection level description was also available on JANUS. A paper copy of the full catalogue is available in the Archive Reading Room.

Archivist's Note

Description by Karen Davies, College Archivist, 10 May 2002. Amended August 2004. Collection Description transferred to the Archives Hub in 2008 as part of Genesis 2008 Project

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from Anna Bidder's own writings must obtain permission from the copyright holder.


Following the death of Anna Bidder in 2001, science research papers and further personal and family papers were gifted to the College. These await cataloguing.


Catharine M. C. Haines (2001) International Women in Science: A biographical dictionary to 1950 ABC-CLIO, Oxford

Geographical Names