CLARKE, Edith, 1896-1979, Jamaican anthropologist

Scope and Content

Field notes and working files collected by Edith Clarke and others for a survey of marriage and parentage in three rural communities in Jamaica, 1948-1949, known as the West Indian Social Survey. The two-year study was sponsored by the Colonial Social Science Research Council, and financed by the Colonial Office from funds provided for research under the Colonial Development and Welfare Act. The fieldwork was supervised by an advisory committee of the London School of Economics, comprising Professor Raymond Firth, Professor David Victor Glass and Professor Isaac Schapera.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born 1896 in Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, Jamaica, the daughter of Hugh Clarke, Custos of the parish; educated at Abbey School, Malvern, UK, and University College, London (1921-1923); obtained a Diploma of Anthropology at the London School of Economics, 1926-1931, studying under Bronislaw Kasper Malinowski; undertook anthropological work and studies in Africa, 1932-1933; returned to Jamaica, where she joined the local civil service in 1936; appointed Secretary of the Board of Supervision, 1936-1948; prepared information on social conditions in Jamaica for the West India Royal Commission of Enquiry, 1938; Assistant Secretary, Secretariat, 1948-1951; Director, Jamaica Welfare Ltd; retired from the civil service, 1951; appointed first female member of the Jamaican Legislative Council, 1958; put forward a motion in the Legislative Council to amend the Law for the Registration of Births to make the registration of the father's name compulsory, 1958; participated in a United States Information Service (USIS) sponsored tour of the USA, 1962; Fellow of the Royal African Institute; Member, and Chairman, Child Welfare Association; Vice-Chairman, Central Managing Committee, 4-H Clubs (for the prevention of tuberculosis); Member, Anti-Tuberculosis League; Honorary Secretary, King George V Tuberculosis Hospital; Member, Committee on Illegitimacy and Concubinage; Member, Central Council of Voluntary Services; Member, Jamaica Youth Organisation Committee; Member, Jamaica Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children; died 1979.
Publications: My mother who fathered me: a study of the family in three selected communities in Jamaica (Allen and Unwin, London, 1957).


The papers retain the arrangement imposed by Edith Clarke and other members of the Survey team.

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Archivist's Note

Compiled by Sarah Aitchison as part of the RSLP AIM25 project.

Conditions Governing Use

Apply to Archivist for copyright details. No documents may be photocopied.

Custodial History

Given by Edith Clarke in 1970.


Edith Clarke, My mother who fathered me: a study of the family in three selected communities in Jamaica (Allen and Unwin, London, 1957).

Geographical Names