Oldham, Alice (1850–1907), lecturer at Alexandra College and pioneer of women's higher education, was born 24 June 1850 in Dublin, elder daughter among two sons and two daughters of Eldred Oldham, Dublin silk merchant, and Annie Oldham (née Alker). As a strong advocate of women's education, she worked with Isabella Tod (qv) to extend the Intermediate Education (Ireland) Act, 1878, to include girls. She became secretary of the newly formed Central Association of Irish Schoolmistresses in 1882. After the establishment of the RUI (1880) she sought to enable women to obtain degrees from the university, and was among the first nine women to matriculate at the RUI in 1882. To prepare for her degree, she attended classes in Alexandra College and the RCSI. She graduated with a BA (1885), with honours in Latin, logic, and the history of philosophy. Her fellow graduate Mary Hayden (qv) recorded the ceremony in her diary, and was pleased at how well they all looked, despite noting the verdict on them of Michael Morris (qv), later lord chief justice, ‘having only seen Alice Oldham’, as ‘an ugly lot’ (O'Connor & Parkes, 45). In 1884 Oldham began teaching domestic economy at Alexandra College, Dublin, and became one of the first female lecturers in the college in 1889 when appointed as lecturer in English. She also taught botany, Latin, and logic, and gave a series of lectures on history and the history of philosophy in the 1890s.
She remained an active leader in the matter of women's higher education. She gave evidence to the Robertson commission on university education on 27 September 1901, alongside Henrietta White (qv), prinicipal of Alexandra College. Whereas White maintained a belief in separate but equal education for women, Oldham advocated complete equality in education and the admittance of women to TCD. She became the first president of the Irish Association of Women Graduates and Candidate Graduates in March 1902.
She died 21 January 1907, aged 56, of heart failure after a brief illness, at her home at 2 Anglesea Villas, Ballsbridge, and was buried in Deansgrange cemetery. Her brother Charles Oldham (qv) and sister Edith Best (qv) presented Alexandra College with her portrait. In tribute to her dedication to the college and to women's higher education, a collection of books, known as the Oldham library, was donated to the college, and the Alice Oldham Memorial Prize was endowed by TCD.