The Residencia de Señoritas (1915-1936): A commitment to the future

Although the female part of the Residencia has not left a historical footprint quite as celebrated as the masculine one, both have played a crucial role in our recent past. Indeed both took part in the same project, they shared the same principles, chased similar goals and, between 1915 and 1936, had very much parallel paths. Much like in the Residencia de Estudiantes, in the Residencia de Señoritas, residents also had a laboratory where they could practice, a comprehensive library to compliment their studies and a program of classes, meetings, concerts and poetical lectures in order to expand their academic training. All these features were imbued by a thoughtful environment to “offer the students the guaranty of a spiritual home surrounded by beneficial influence, to be able to enjoy the benefits of corporative life, by a healthy moral environment and by all kinds of stimulus and abilities to work”, according to a pamphlet published in 1933.

All the Residencia de Señoritas’ activities were fundamentally supported by the International Institute for Girls in Spain, which was originally a North American institution which moved to Spain in the beginning of 20th century and brought material means to the Residencia de Señoritas - with the cession of its buildings and the participation of its faculty. The infrastructure provided by the International Institute for Girls in Spain was hugely beneficial to the students of the Residencia de Señoritas. Equally, with the collaboration of the Instituto Internacional, agreements with different North American female colleges were drawn up in order to provide grants for exchanges between them.

Almost all women that had something important to say in Spanish society in the first third of 20th century were related to the Residencia de Señoritas. Individuals of high renown such as Victoria Kent, Matilde Huici, Delhy Tejero or Josefina Carabias were some of its residents. Not to mention other luminaries such as María Govri, María Zambrano, Victoria Durán or Maruja Mallo who also took part in its faculty as well as Zenobia Camprubí, Gabriela Mistral, Victoria Ocampo, María Martínez Sierra, Clara Campoamor and Concha Méndez, who participated in its activities. In the halls of the Residencia de Señoritas the female Lyceum Club/ Lyceum Club Femenino and the Asociación Universitaria Femenina were born.

But as well as those who gained a higher level of recognition, the group of the residents overall, formed by women of all parts of Spain, constituted an avant-garde model of professional and independent women, which was still considered remarkable in society at that time.


Room of the Residencia de Señoritas in its headquarters in Fortuny Street, 30, Madrid, around 1923. Residencia de Estudiantes, Madrid.

Students of the Residencia de Señoritas playing tennis in Fortuny Street, 53, 1920s.

“Las mil estudiantes de la Universidad de Madrid”, article by Josefina Carabias published in Estampa, Madrid 24th June 1933.