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Papers of Marjorie Rackstraw

Identifier: Coll-705

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of: sorted letters, cards, newspaper cuttings; photographs; a file on displaced persons, notes of reminiscences for broadcast; Automobile Association documents; letters from Sara Margery Fry (1874-1958); book on Sara Margery Fry; cassette tapes; biographical papers; pamphlets on Masson Hall, Edinburgh University; a report on women students; album of photographs relating to Masson Hall; newsletter of the Masson Association; several dozen foreign and domestic picture postcards from 1908-1980; a document from Buckingham Palace announcing the award of OBE; and, a box of Ilford lantern slides depicting images from the Great Famine in Russia, 1921-1923.


  • Creation: 1904-1981


Language of Materials

Mostly English; some correspondence in French, and some newsletters in Polish.

Conditions Governing Access

This material is mostly open but some documents dating from less than 100 years may be subject to Data Protection restrictions. Please contact repository for details in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Marjorie Rackstraw was born 24 June 1888. She studied at the University of Birmingham and was a Postgraduate Scholar at Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania, USA. In 1913 she became Bursar at University House, Birmingham, and from 1915 until 1917 did relief and reconstruction work in France. From 1917 until 1921, Rackstraw was warden of the Students Hall of Residence, Moray House, Edinburgh, and then in 1921 did relief work in the Soviet Union until 1923. In 1924 she worked at the Headquarters of the League of Nations, and from 1924 until 1937 was Warden of Masson Hall, Edinburgh University. During this time too she was Adviser of Women Students, Edinburgh University. From 1937, Rackstraw was in London doing social work and in 1939 was involved in the evacuation of day nurseries and nursery schools for London City Council (LCC). In 1940 she did relief work for refugees in France until the fall of France in June 1940. She then did emergency war work, and in 1944 joined the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration in Germany. There she worked with refugees, community feeding, and the welfare of old people, including the setting up of hostels. In 1945, Rackstraw was elected Labour Councillor for Hampstead and from 1945 until her death she set up and worked with the Hampstead Old peoples' Housing Trust. Rackstraw was Chair of the Hampstead Committee of the Lord Mayor's National Air Raid Distress Fund, Chair of the Standing Committee on Communal Feeding, Governor of St. Olave's and St. Saviour's School, and Honorary President of Niddrie School Association. She was awarded the OBE in the New Years Honours List, 1960. Marjorie Rackstraw OBE died on 28 April 1981.


4 boxes

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The material was acquired in a suitcase from Rackstraw's executors, November 1995, Accession no. E95.81.

Processing Information

Top-level description first created by Graeme Eddie in 2014. Fonds catalogued by Elise Newcomer in October-November 2018. Catalogue updated and published by Aline Brodin in November 2018.

Papers of Marjorie Rackstraw (1888-1981), Warden of Masson Hall, Edinburgh University Coll-705
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379