Records of the Girls' Day School Trust and predecessors (GDST)

Scope and Content

Central records of the Girls' Day School Trust and its predecessors split into the following series:

constitutional records, 1872-1992; papers regarding honorary members of the Trust, [1889]-2004; records of the Council of the Trust, 1872-2005; papers regarding annual and extraordinary general meetings, 1872-1968; annual reports, 1871-2002; papers regarding the committees of the Council, 1872-1998; shareholders' records, 1872-1966; financial records; general administration records, 1876-1994; papers regarding the relationship between the Trust and local and central government, 1876-1986; papers regarding the central governance of Trust schools, 1920-2000; miscellaneous papers regarding schools owned by the Trust, 1873-2006; miscellaneous records regarding former Trust schools, 1873-1997; property records, 1906-1965; records regarding staff, 1875-2001; records regarding pupils, 1901-2005; papers regarding the curriculum in Trust schools, 1868-1985; papers regarding teacher training in Trust schools, [1900]-1952; papers regarding examinations and assessment in Trust schools, 1916-1994; school inspection records, 1879-2005; scholarship records, 1894-1994; publicity material, 1879-2005; publications, 1923-2002; papers regarding events, 1890-1998; artefacts, [1872-1992]; photographs; papers regarding old girls' associations and the Minerva Network, 1976-2004; and miscellaneous papers regarding the development of the Trust, [1870-2004].

The collection also contains the papers of Maria Grey and Emily Shirreff, 1843-[2000]; and records of the Friends of the Girls Public Day School Trust, 1946-2003.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Girls' Day School Trust is an independently run but centrally supported group of girls' schools initially created in 1872 to advance the education of women. In 2007 the Trust was responsible for 29 schools located across England and Wales.

The Trust was created in 1872 as the Girls' Public Day School Company (GPDSC), a limited liability company founded by the National Union for improving the Education of Women of All Classes (also known as the Women's Education Union). The Union had been created a year earlier by sisters Maria Grey and Emily Shirreff with the support of Lady Henrietta Stanley of Alderley, Mary Gurney, and HRH Princess Louise, who all played active roles in the early years of the GPDSC. The Company was created to establish good and cheap academic day schools for girls of all classes above the level of elementary education. New schools would only be founded were they were most needed and they were expected to become self-supporting. The first school opened in January 1873, and by 1901 the GPDSC was responsible for 38 schools.

Initially the schools only provided secondary education but soon opened junior and kindergarten departments. Most of the schools had teacher training departments and provided domestic science courses for girls over 17. Some of the schools also developed specialisms, such as Kensington High School which trained music teachers and Liverpool High School (later Belvedere School) which trained art teachers. Headmistresses were also an important part of the GPDSC policies and were engaged in experimental education techniques.

From 1875 the GPDSC amended its constitutions to enable it to become a charitable Trust to continue to receive government grants, which was wary of giving public grants to a company with share holders. In 1906 the GPDSC was reconstituted as the Girls' Public Day School Trust Limited, a limited company with charitable status which had to be wound-up by 1 January 1956 if the Trust failed to buy all the existing share capital. The Trust continued to amend its constitution until it was able to make an offer to buy the entire share capital in 1950 to become the Girls' Public Day School Trust.

The Trust was faced with many financial problems in the first half of the 20th century due to the demands of shareholders and competition from new state secondary schools. The schools began to take free scholars from state elementary schools, whose fees were paid by the local education authority. The less profitable schools were closed, amalgamated with other Trust schools, or transfer to the local education authorities. World War Two plunged the Trust into more financial trouble as the schools accepted refugee children at reduced fees and the inner city schools were evacuated.

After the 1944 Education Act, the Trust schools had to cater for the sudden increase in number of pupils. They joined the government's new Direct Grant Scheme in the same year. The scheme required that a third of school governors had to be representative of the local education authorities and a minimum of 15 percent of their intake had to be transferred from state elementary schools, though they could remain academically selective.

The Trust schools became fully independent in 1976 when the scheme was withdrawn.

In 1980 the Trust applied for the Government's Assisted Place Scheme for all schools and registered as a private company under the Companies Act 1980. The schools remained in the scheme until it was discontinued in 1997.

In 1992-1993 the Trust effected a corporate reorganisation resulting in the division of the Trust's operations into two separate but connected charitably companies. The Girl's Public Day School Trust (1872), a company limited by guarantee, and managed the property and investments and The Girl's Public Day School Trust (GPDST) ran the operation of the schools. In 1994 the Girl's Public Day School Trust (1872) acquired 'GPDST (Enterprises) Limited, which was responsible for promotional merchandise for the Trust and to administer the new Minerva Network, a club for all former pupils of the Trust. The reorganisation was finally completed in 1998 when the Trust became the Girls' Day School Trust.

The Head Quarters of the Trust has based in London, firstly in 21 Queen Anne's Gate. By 1919 the Trust had moved into new premises at Broadway Court in Westminster. In 1963 it moved opposite its original home into 26 Queen Anne's Gate. In 1997 The Trust moved into 100 Rochester Row.


It is difficult to tell how the collection was originally arranged as it has been rearranged several times, so the structure of the collection attempts to reflect the structure of the Trust rather than an original filing system. Approximately half of the collection was re-sorted, weeded by the Trust before it was catalogued by the British Records Association. This catalogue had 13 series which was felt to be insufficient to cover the all the aspects of the collection, therefore the collection now has 27 series and two subfonds. There has been an attempt to retain or recreate the originally filing system where it is apparent. The papers of the Friends of the Girls' Public Day School Trust and the papers of Maria Grey and Emily Shirreff where created independently of the main series of records and have been treated as collections within the collection (subfonds). Further notes on arrangement of individual series can be found in the series level descriptions.

The Alt Ref field has been used to record the former references of the material in the collection. 'Old Ref' has been used to signify the numbers used in the Trust's catalogue. 'BAC' refers to the number used in the list written by the Business Archives Council in 1981. The numerical reference (1-719) refers to material which was held in Wimbledon High School at the time it was listed and the other references refer to were the material was originally held (see GDS/28/6 for details).

Material held on digital storage media have been removed from the body of the collection and placed in the Digital Physical Media Storage Area (Jessica Womack, March 2014)

Access Information

Restricted access

All administrative papers are subject to 30 year closures unless it is or has been publicly available. Papers which contain personal data on living persons are subject to closure under the Data Protection Act, including information on heads; staff files; student files; material regarding employment matters; papers regarding bursary funding; scholarships; specific information regarding grants and bequests; and salaries and wages. Permission to access this material must be obtained from the Girls' Day School Trust.

Some records have been closed because they are too fragile to be produced, though Archivists can provide information on request.

Other Finding Aids

The collection has been catalogued and is available on the on-line catalogue. An electronic copy of the catalogue is also held by the Archives.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The majority of the collection has been reboxed but some material still needs specialised packaging.

Conditions Governing Use

A reader wishing to publish any quotation of information, including pictorial, derived from any archive material must apply in writing for prior permission from the Archivist or other appropriate person(s) as indicated by the Archivist. A limited number of photocopies may be supplied at the discretion of the Archivist.

Appraisal Information

The collection was partially weeded before it was sent to the Institute. The collection was weeded further to remove duplicate material; records which duplicated information held by other records in the collection; records created by individual schools; records which were thought to not be historical relevant. All appraised material was returned to the Trust.

Custodial History

In 1981 the Business Archives Council compiled a company archive survey of the records of the GDST. At this date the records were mainly held in the Trust's headquarters at Queen Anne's Gate; Wimbledon High School; and the Trust's Surveyors Department in Sutton. Some point after this date the material was resorted in series and much of the original filing system has been lost as it appears the original files were often separated or amalgamated. Also some documents relating to more than one topic were photocopied and placed in multiple files. Most of the records were transferred to the Institute by the GDST from Croydon High School in August 2006 where they had been listed to series level by the British Records Association. In August 2009 the remaining material was transferred from Croydon to the Archives.



Related Material

Trust schools which still exist today hold their own records or will be held at the appropriate local archive respository.

Papers regarding the Trust can also be found in other collections in the Archive, including SM/1/1 and NCE/N/248. Members of the Library can access the journal of the Women's Education Union through the 19th century periodicals database and the original journal is held in the British Library.


Published histories of the Trust, publications which have used the records of the Trust, or publication which refer to the history of the Trust:Laurie Magnus (1923) 'The Jubilee Book of Girls' Public Day School Trust 1873-1923', Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. Kathleen D B Littlewood (1951) 'Some Account of the History of the Girls' Public Day School Trust', republished in 1960.Josephine Kamm (1965) 'Hope Deferred: Girls' Education in English History, Methuen & Co Ltd, London. Robin Davis (1967) 'The Grammar School' Penguin Books, Harmonsworth.Josephine Kamm (1971) 'Indicative Past: A Hundred Years of The Girls' Public Day School Trust' George Allen & Unwin, London.Mary Price & Nonita Glenday (1975) 'Relunctant Revolutionaries: a century of headmistresses 1874-1974' Pitman Publishing, London. Celia Haddon (1977) 'Great Days & Jolly Days: The Story of Girls' School Songs', Hodder and Stoughton, London.Sheila Fletcher (1980) 'Feminists and Bureaucrats: a study in the development of girls' education in the nineteenth century' Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.