Saturday, 13 June 2015

Belgian refugee scholars

With the PhD submitted and a viva in the pipeline over the next few weeks, many blog posts are being lined up, but for now we stick to what is appearing online, such as the latest publications that include a section on Belgian refugees.

The following section is taken from a recent publication by Irish on British, French and American universities in the period 1914-1925.

"The plight of Belgium had a double relevance to scholars in the first month of war. Its invasion was the casus belli for Britain, while the destruction of Louvain library outraged the learned world. As a result, there was an upsurge of academic solidarity with fellow academic victims of German invasion who had fled to Britain and France. Refugees began to arrive in Britain in October 1914. In September 1914, Cambridge University offered refuge to the entire Universities of Louvain and Liege, but the offer was politely declined in each case. Belgian professors, expert in many disciplines, settled at Cambridge, and courses were organized in Philosophy and Letters, Law and Engineering by November. The University Press also took over Le Museon, a quarterly publication which had been printed at Louvain. At Oxford, Grace Osler, wife of the Regius Professor of Medicine, William Osler, began organizing the settlement of Belgian scholars there and noted that 'we offered hospitality to one family and out of that has grown this business.'The University of Sheffield opened a hostel for Belgian refugees in November 1914, while Belgian academics also lectured at Glasgow University and elsewhere."

Tomás Irish (2015) The University at War, 1914-25: Britain, France, and the United States, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, p.22.

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