Five facts about: Helen Crawfurd

1 Along with Mary Barbour, from Kilbarchan in Renfrewshire and Springburn’s Agnes Dollan, Helen Crawfurd set up the Glasgow Women’s Housing Association, and co-ordinated the successful Rent Strikes of 1915, which led to the victory of the Rent Restriction Act.

2 She was also a key architect in the launch of the Women’s Peace Crusade, which included public speaking, huge demonstrations and protests involving women with husbands and sons killed in the war.

3 Ms Crawford was born in the Gorbals. She was appalled by the hardships endured by the women of Glasgow from an early age and her desire to fight injustice led her to join the Women’s Social and Political Union in 1910. Like many other women, she was jailed and badly treated for standing up for women’s right to vote. She was arrested for breaking the windows of the Minister of Education’s residence in central London, and sentenced to one month in Holloway Prison.

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4 Glasgow Women’s Library recently held an exhibition called Our Red Aunt, which was dedicated to this inspiring anti-war crusader and curated by her great-niece Fiona Jack. Within the works displayed was Ms Crawfurd’s autobiography, which reveals her love of reading and writing. During her first marriage she read novels in ‘open defiance’ of her disapproving first husband, minister Alexander Montgomerie Crawfurd (although she would later notice his bookmark appearing in the pages.)

5 Crawfurd was a member of the British delegation to the Conference of the Women’s International League at Zurich in 1919. In 1946 she was the first woman councillor to take her place on Dunoon Council. The following year she married fellow Communist Party member George Anderson. She died in 1954.