Motto: विद्यया विन्दतेऽमृतम्
The motto is taken from Chapter 2, Verse 4 of Kena Upanishad which translates to ‘by knowledge one attains immortality.’ Immortality here means freedom from all the bondages of nescience or ignorance permanently. Women’s College, Calcutta was founded on July 2 nd , 1937, with this motto of imparting knowledge and empowering women through higher education by a group of scholars under the guidance of Dr. D.L. De. A brief history of the college shows the then avant-garde ideas which enforced innovative and progressively radical mindsets for the upliftment of the community at large. The founder D.L. De returned to India after pursuing his M.A, Ph.D from London, he worked with an advisory board who wanted to set up a model institution for women. This advisory board consisted of eminent personalities.
The first Advisory board members
Sir Manmanath Chowdhury, Maharaja of Santosh
Mr. S. K. Basu, Ex-Mayor, Calcutta Corporation
Sir U. N Brahmachari
Sir A.H. Ghuznavi
Mrs. Nellie Sengupta, Alderman, Calcutta Corporation,
Mrs Kumidini Basu, Ex-Councillor, Calcutta Corporation
Ms. S. B. Das, Fellow, University of Patna
Mr. Durgaprasad Khaitan
Mr. S.M. Chowdhury
Mr. K. K. Bhattacharjee
Mr. K.C. Chatterjee
Mr. A.C Gupta
Mr. S. N. Mitra
The Advisory Board with the President Sri. A. T. Ganguly submitted the application for affiliation to the University of Calcutta. This affiliation was recommended for the Bachelors in Arts (B.A) Programme on 27 th April, 1940 to be finally sanctioned on June, 1940. The college was established in a building in Vivekananda Road, which was then transferred to Parshi Bagan Lane. During the Second World War, the building was taken over by the British Government and the college shifted to 204, Cornwallis Street, Calcutta.
On December 1982, the college moved to a permanent residence in P-29, Kshirode Vidyavinode Avenue, Baghbazar, Kolkata, 700003 with Smt. Hena Maitra as the principal. The Department of Bengali and the Department of English were the first two departments to offer an Honours degree. Subsequently, other departments like Economics, Education, Food and Nutrition, Geography, History, Hindi, Journalism and Mass Communication, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, were added to the college.
The Women’s College family in its initial years worked towards empowerment of women despite inadequate resources. The college encouraged women education in a conservative society through various methods such as providing lunch to students, providing clothes and shoes twice a year and a vigorous engagement with students to ensure a holistic development. This tradition of contribution to the community at large continues as with Srijan, a Centre for Community and Welfare (estb. 2003) that caters to children and women that reside in the slums nearby.
The college history is also intertwined with the Baghbazar area. The area has a rich cultural heritage and personalities who have been the vanguard of literary and journalistic activities, dramatics, art, religion and spirituality. The college is proud of its environment and the various personalities that are associated with its immediate neighbourhood. Some of these personalities who have influenced the philosophy and working of the college are Ramakrishna Parmahansa, Swami Vivekanada, Sister Nivedita, Girish Chandra Ghosh, Nandalal Basu, Jamini Roy, and lastly Kshirode Prasad Vidyavinode the person after whom the Avenue has been named. Maa Sharda’s house in Baghbazar located just behind the college adds to the religious and cultural impression.
In this context, the college has strengthened and matured with powerful influences of progress and educational empowerment. The NAAC Accreditation in the first cycle was B++ in 2007 and the second cycle accredited B++ in 2016.