Student Blog

The Maitland History Society

Getting involved in new extra-curricular activities is often the best bit about coming to University. In our new series of posts for the Student Life Blog, we’ll be showcasing some of the teams and societies you can join at Downing College


Hey, my name is Deborah and I’m currently a third year history student at Downing. Before that, I was at the French lycée in London where I did the baccalaureate, majoring in science. I chose Downing because of the amazing grounds and facilities, especially the tennis courts.

But societies are about more than just  sports; I wanted to talk about subject societies, and, more specifically, about the Maitland History Society, which I will be president of this year. We have a couple of events a year, including speakers coming to talk, formals, and a small field trip in Easter term.  Admittedly, none of us historians were extremely enthusiastic in our first term. Why would you go to a history event when you already spend all day doing history?  But within a term or so we all really enjoyed going! Last years speakers included Dr Tom Hamilton on ‘The Magicians of Moulins’, covering witchcraft and crime, Dr Amy Erickson on ‘Fans and Fanny Burney’, the history of female entrepreneurs and Professor John Hatcher on ‘Mistaken Mediavalists’.

Maitland History Society 2017

First of all, from an academic perspective, subject society talks and events can be quite interesting. I know that as a secretary last year, I tried to pick speakers with quite varied areas of interest, so that there was something for everyone. Unlike a university wide society, you won’t have a huge number of people going, so you really get to talk to the speaker as well, ask your questions, hear about their research. Most of all, however, it really is the best place to get to know other people in your subject, especially in the years above you. Before every talk we have a small drinks reception, and afterwards we have a formal dinner (Downing has some of the best food in Cambridge), so there is plenty of time to socialise. That’s how I got to know the year above me quite well, and it comes in handy when you’re stuck on something in exam term or when you don’t know which options to choose next year!

Beyond that, participating in subject societies like the Maitland History Society, really encourages you to have a couple of evenings off a term all while feeling like you’re doing something productive for your degree! But subject societies aren’t at all limited to people doing that subject A lot of Classicists and English students like to come to history events, for example. Most people aren’t interested in just one thing, and going to a talk from another subject society can be a great way to take a break from whatever you’re studying.

All in all, belonging to one of the subject societies like the Maitland History Society, is one of the best things you can do here at Cambridge. It provides an opportunity to have a nice evening with your friends and properly get to know people in college, especially those in your subject!

Deborah Herzberg

Hi! I’m Deborah and I’m currently a third year historian at Downing. I went to the French Lycée in London, majoring in science. In my spare time at Cambridge, I love to play tennis, go to zumba and make dinner with my friends.