Biographical Note

MS 90-25

Finding aid | Series description | Container list | Index to manuscripts | Contact us | Home page

Dame Rachel Eleanor Crowdy (1884-1964) was born in March 3, 1884. She was the daughter of James Crowdy, a solicitor from Kensington, and Mary Isabel Ann Fuidge. Rachel completed her training as a nurse at Guy's Hospital in 1908, and three years later she joined the Voluntary Aid Detachments (VAD) to the Territorial Army of Great Britain. She served for the VADs during the Great War (1914-1918) participating in some relief efforts along the lines of communication between France and Belgium; some of these efforts implied attending wounded soldiers, setting up rest stations, ambulance depots, hostels for nurses and relatives of the wounded, and hospitals and sick bays. Her hard work earned her the Royal Red Cross 2nd class in 1916 and 1st class in the following year; after the War she was created Dame of the British Empire and was appointed chief of the Social Questions and Opium Traffic Section at the League of Nations, becoming the only woman to head a section at the League. She spent twelve years working with the League, being distinguished with many awards for her work. Among these were being named commander of the Order of Polonia Restituta in 1922 and the Order of Alphonso XII of Spain in 1931; she was also granted the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws at Smith College in the United States in 1926.

The next decade saw Dame Rachel perform some international functions on behalf of the British Government. She attended conferences in Honolulu and Shanghai in 1930 and 1931, and was a member of the royal commission to investigate the traffic of arms in 1935-6. In the following year she was part of a parliamentary commission to overlook the Spanish Civil War; and in the next two years she served on the West Indies Royal Commission. The last major appointment Dame Rachel had was at the Ministry of Information in Great Britain, serving as a regions’ adviser from 1939 to 1946.

In 1939 Rachel married Colonel Cudbert John Massy Thornhill, who died in 1952. Dame Rachel died at her home in Outwood, Surrey on October the tenth, 1964, when she was eighty years of age.

Top | Finding aid | Series description | Container list | Index to manuscripts | Contact us | Home page