The University of Edinburgh's rare and unique collections catalogue online.

Women in archives

TitleWomen in archives

Women who made an impact on society are well represented in our archives, especially in the many collections of personal papers of female artists, educationalists, researchers and scientists. These women, who were mainly British, lived in different centuries and were involved in a wide variety of activities: from the 19th century folk songwriter Louisa Matilda Crawford to the geneticist Lady Noreen Murray, including the WW2 codebreaker Irene J. Young and the theatre and ballet designer Yolanda Sonnabend.

Some highlights include:

Papers of Lady Noreen Murray (1935-2011), Coll-1528: Noreen Murray was a molecular geneticist who became well known for the work she conducted with her husband Sir Kenneth Murray developing a vaccine against hepatitis B using gene cloning technology. The material includes her research papers, notebooks and correspondence with students, colleagues, societies and institutions.

Papers of Rosalind Mary Mitchison (1919-2002), Coll-1066: Rosalind Mitchison was a Scottish social historian who taught at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow. She was successively a Lecturer and Reader in Economic History, and then Professor of Social History at the University of Edinburgh. The collection is of academic material, letters from publishers and societies, and some personal letters, cards and reprographics.

Papers of Irene J. Young (1919-2017), Coll-1657: Irene Jessie Brown (née Young) was an author and codebreaker who worked at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire during the Second World War. She was employed as a linguist and translator working in the Registration Room and the main Decoding Room. Her papers include notes and certificates relating to her education, as well as notebooks, correspondence, autobiography proofs, and albums relating to her wartime service.

Papers and artwork of Yolanda Sonnabend relating to her collaboration with C.H. Waddington, Coll-1461: From the late 1960s until his death in 1975, British designer Yolanda Sonnabend collaborated with the biologist and embryologist C.H. Waddington. She was employed as his research assistant on various projects, and produced the artwork for his book 'Tools for Thought: how to understand and apply the latest scientific techniques of problem solving'. The collection contains artwork, correspondence, manuscripts and printed and photographic material relating to this collaboration.

Papers and Correspondence of Marjory Kennedy-Fraser (1857-1930), Coll-1036: A major figure in the Celtic Revival, Marjory Kennedy-Fraser was a singer, pianist, folk-song collector and arranger. She travelled the Scottish Isles to research and record folk songs in Gaelic from declining populations, and later published them as Songs of the Hebrides. Her collection includes a manuscript volume of Gaelic songs, manuscripts and proofs of Songs of the Hebrides, papers relating to Granville Bantock’s opera The Seal Woman, proofs of her autobiography, memorabilia, and family correspondence.

Papers of Helen B. Cruickshank (1886-1975), Col-81: Helen Burness Cruickshank was a Scottish poet and suffragette who played a major role as a mentor to other writers of the Scottish Literary Renaissance movement. Her poems, in Scots and in English, are rich in the sights and sounds of 20th-century Scotland and show a sharp political perception of the position both of women and of Scotland in general. Her papers and correspondence include manuscripts of poems, plays, short stories, lectures and articles, correspondence with other authors, autobiographical notes, contributions to Scottish PEN, and pencil sketches, photographs, and press cuttings.

OriginUnited Kingdom; Scotland; England

Image: Marjory Kennedy-Fraser and her daughter Patuffa