Among the archives of Newnham College is this letter home from student Margaret Higham (Mrs Langford, 1898 – 1965), with her hopes for a bright future following the Armistice. Women could not at the time be members of the University of Cambridge, but there were high hopes for a change of attitude as a result of women’s vital contribution to the war effort. Her brief mention of the flu brings a sombre note – the influenza pandemic of 1918-1920 would kill at least 50 million people worldwide. The following transcription is a short extract:
My dearest Mother and Father
What a wonderful week of joy and relief it has been. The rejoicings here have been very light-hearted and everyone seems to look so much better and happier. It was so good to get news from home and to see that you were all happy like me with the thought of the return of peace on earth and with the knowledge that our dear Joe has been brought safety through in God’s great mercy to us. I suppose his illness is not serious or we should have heard more so we may look forward to a delightful reunion at Christmas. I can hardly believe it will be here so soon for the term only seems to have properly begun with the cessation of flu and beginning of meetings etc.
I shall have a lot of amusing details to tell you about armistice celebrations when I get home. It has seemed so strange to be really frivolous after two and a half serious years. I feel it is good for all of us and then the rest of the year will bring many changes and perhaps an inclusion in the University life.
The Steve [the College Principal, Katharine Stephen] is really a sport and has been very good indeed. She has said we may have a mixed dance on the last Saturday of term. I hope it will be a success and the beginning of more organised social gatherings between the Colleges. Everything is merry in that direction. …