In retrospect of what will be our nostalgia / Footprints of Sophia

By Anita Thomas

The college days will be soon over, and what we will be left with me is its education and nostalgia. This article is written in an attempt to know my college better, through its history. The research was done with the help of the records in the library.

The history of Sophia College is almost seven decades old, though the history of the Sophia College ‘building’ goes far beyond. The building owned by the erstwhile East India Company was granted, sold and resold to many prominent personalities. The East India Company granted the building, then a bungalow, and approximately 10 acres of its surrounding land to the Parsi family of Ashburner in the early 19th century, who named the bungalow as Somerset House. In 1882 Honourable Badruddin Tyabji acquired the property which was then sold to Mr. Hormusji Nosherwanjee Vakeel in 1917 who made some additions to the house. In 1923 the Maharaja of Indore acquired possession of the house and sold it to the Maharaja of Bhavnagar. It was from him that the Society of Sacred Heart, a society originated in France, working for the education and empowerment of women, bought the property in 1940.

Thus began a new history, the history of Sophia College, from 1940 with a Home and Social Culture Course for women, run by the functionaries of the society of the Sacred Heart. In 1941 with the introduction of the Arts programme, Sophia became the only college affiliated to the University of Bombay that catered exclusively to women’s education.

Though, the number of students in the college increased very slowly, with 29 in 1941 to 287 students by 1951.  In the second decade with the many additions to the building, initiation of the science faculty and the NCC (National Cadet Corps), etc. the numbers increased to 966 by the end of 1960, it had more than trebled. The second decade saw an altogether different Sophia College, with the introduction of the teaching of various new languages, subjects, departments, construction of the then ‘Multi-purpose hall’ but now called the  Bhabha hall and yes, the Canteen.

The period from 1961-1971 i.e the 3rd decade was one of the most eventful decade in the history of Sophia College. In this decade the college saw great expansion and the commencement of a number of new activities. In 1962 college received the permanent affiliation for the BA subjects, 1966 saw the construction of the science building and in 1968 to much of the student’s excitement unsupervised exams were introduced for the first time. The end of this decade also witnessed the housing of the Sadhana School, a school for the developmentally challenged children in the Sophia Campus and run by the College Trust. Also the Polytechnic, known as Sophia Shree Basant Kumar Somani Memorial Polytechnic was opened.

The fourth decade was marked by a number of new educational ventures. In 1976 Sophia had its first batch of SYJC students for both Science and the Arts. Between 1977 and 1980 a number of new departments were set up namely, Political Science, Life Science, Bio-Chemistry, and Education. Courses in Office Management and Banking were also introduced. The most significant student activities were the inter-collegiate youth- festivals. The first Kaleidoscope was held on December 16th 1977.

 The college has additions and improvements made to it every year and today it comprises of the main building (arts), the science building, the Anderson Annex and the Polytechnic. Thus, all in all Sophia College for Women throughout it’s long history has grown and developed like a tree with not only it’s  branches spreading wide and high but also it’s roots going deeper and stronger, standing firm and true to its motto- ‘Urudhva Mulla’.

 (NB: A written record of the events from 1977- present, was not available in the library)

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2 Responses to In retrospect of what will be our nostalgia / Footprints of Sophia

  1. Ruth Sequeira says:

    Wow! Anita! So glad you did this! I knew the vague details of how it was once owned by a Maharaja, etc. This is so interesting! 🙂 Thanks for doing this!

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