‘Let us offer higher education as our war memorial’: the philanthropic origins of the University of Leicester

2020-02-06T11:50:09Z (GMT) by Simon Dixon
This paper presents the findings of research carried out during 2017 and 2018 under commission from Leicestershire County Council’s Heritage Lottery Funded project, A Century of Stories. The paper considers the foundation of Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland College, predecessor to the University of Leicester, as a case study in philanthropic giving and voluntary action in the immediate aftermath of the First World War. It re-evaluates arguments made in the closing months of the war for the creation of a utilitarian memorial to benefit the young. Consideration is given to the mechanisms of fundraising employed prior to the founding of the College, followed by a statistical analysis of the donors. The role of existing forms of voluntary association in supporting the scheme are assessed, as are the motives of individual donors who made financial or in kind contributions. The paper draws heavily on a database containing biographical details of early donors, which has been made freely available online.