Thursday, August 9, 2012

Maria Emmeline Buchanan (Fuller)

As you walk up the impressive Jameson Steps at the University of Cape Town (UCT) with Devil's Peak in front of you, look to your left and you will see the women's residence, Fuller Hall. In a portico above the door is bronze bust of Maria Emmeline Fuller, nee Buchanan.
As today is Women's Day, I thought it would be appropriate to have something about this lady as Fuller Hall is so well known, but the person for whom it was named is not. It turns out the she was one of the first four women students to enrol at the South African College (the precursor of the University of Cape Town) in 1886 for her matric and teacher's certificate. The four were allowed to register for chemistry only; it was only in the following year that women were admitted to all classes.
In 1893 she married Dr Edward Barnard Fuller, a consultant at Somerset Hospital and part-time medical officer for the City of Cape Town, who later became chairman of the University Council (1938-1945). Maria was instrumental in establishing Arthur's Seat (a residence for women students of the South African College) in 1907, and served on the house committee for five years until a warden was appointed.
After the South African College officially became the University of Cape Town on 2 April 1918, Maria was a member of the Provisional Committee appointed to oversee the development of the new Groote Schuur campus. In the same year she was one of two women appointed to the newly constituted University Council.
Opened in 1928, the women's residence was renamed Fuller Hall in 1950 in recognition of her contributions to UCT. In the same year UCT awarded Maria an Honorary Doctorate of Laws.
As founder member and first president of the National Council of Women, and dedicated to promoting education and the enfranchisement of women, Maria was awarded the George V Silver Jubilee Medal in 1935 for more than 40 years of public service.
She died in 1957.
The bronze bust was commissioned by UCT's Works of Art Committee and created by sculptor Delise Reich.
Info from The Monday Paper.

I think she bears a striking resemblance to the actress Geraldine James!

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting story and I bet even a lot of women in ther residence won't know the whole of it. Happy Women's Day