The archive consists of letters from Louisa to her mother Elizabeth Garrett Anderson from Holloway, letters to her family from the Women's Hospital Corps, Paris during First World War, a scrapbook relating to Endell Street Military Hospital and photographs.
Papers of Louisa Garrett Anderson
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
Louisa Garrett Anderson (1873-1943) was the daughter of James Skelton and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson. She had one brother, Alan Garrett Anderson, and a sister, Margaret, who died of meningitis in 1875. She was educated at St Leonard's School (May 1888-Apr 1891) and later Bedford College (1890-3). In 1892 she entered the London School of Medicine for Women, and qualified with a MB in 1897, and BS in 1898. In 1900 she gained her MD. Louisa did a postgraduate year at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore in 1902.As well as becoming established as a doctor Louisa was politically active, taking a keen interest in suffrage activities, like many of her family. She was a member of: the London Society for Women's Suffrage; the London Graduates' Union for Women's Suffrage (where she chaired the inaugural meeting); the Women's Social & Political Union (WSPU); the United Suffragists (Vice-President); and the National Political League.On 4 Mar 1912 Anderson smashed a window in Rutland Gate in protest at a speech made by an anti-suffragist Cabinet minister. She was arrested and sent to Holloway Prison for 6 weeks with hard labour (later reduced to one month by direct intervention of the Home Office).Louisa founded the Women's Hospital for Children, 688 Harrow Road, with Dr Flora Murray, in 1912. Murray was a former student of the London School of Medicine for Women, also an active supporter of the WSPU, and it is likely that the two women met in the course of their suffrage work.Louisa was also on the staff at the New Hospital for Women as an assistant surgeon.In Aug 1914, together with Flora Murray, Louisa founded the Women's Hospital Corps, under the auspices of the French Red Cross. Louisa was the Chief Surgeon. The two women established a hospital in the Hotel Claridge in Paris, which ran from Sep 1914 to Jan 1915. In Nov 1914 they were asked to open a second hospital at Wimereux, under the Royal Army Medicine Corps (RAMC), which also ran until early 1915. They were then offered hospital premises in London, so closed both hospitals in France and returned to England. The Endell Street Military Hospital, the first hospital in the UK established expressly for men by women, ran from May 1915 until Dec 1919, and during that time treated over 26,000 patients, 24,000 of them male. The hospital has been largely forgotten today, partly because of its relatively small size, and partly because of its anomalous position as a women-run institution in a largely hostile RAMC. The best source of the activities of the Women's Hospital Corps in World War One is the account by Flora Murray, published in 1920: Women as Army Surgeons: being the history of the Women's Hospital Corps in Paris, Wimereux and Endell Street, Sep 1914-Oct 1919 (London: Hodder and Stoughton). In 1917 Murray and Anderson were awarded the CBE for their war work.Flora Murray was Louisa Garrett Anderson's close friend and companion from about 1910 until Murray's death in 1923. They jointly owned a house, Paul End, at Penn in Buckinghamshire. Before meeting Murray, Anderson had had a close relationship with the suffragist Evelyn Sharp - there are a few passionate letters from Anderson in the Evelyn Sharp Papers in the Bodleian Library. In her diary, Evelyn Sharp describes how she wrote an obituary of Anderson, published in the Manchester Guardian (a copy is in the Women's Library Biographical Press Cuttings collection).After the war the two women continued to work at their hospital in the Harrow Road until forced to close it because of lack of funds in 1921. They then retired to the country. Murray had a brief illness in 1923 and was diagnosed with rectal carcinoma. She had a series of operations at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital and died at a nursing home in Belsize Park in 1923. Anderson continued to live at Penn. She was a magistrate, and remained interested in women's issues. When war broke out she let her house and came to London to stay with Louie Brook, former Secretary of the London School of Medicine for Women, in Russell Square. She was given a place on the surgical staff at the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital. In 1943 she was found to have disseminated malignant disease, and was taken to a nursing home in Brighton, where she died on 15 Nov 1943. Louisa was cremated at Brighton and her ashes scattered there, but her family arranged for an inscription commemorating her friendship and work with Flora Murray to be placed on the latter's tombstone in the churchyard at Holy Trinity, Penn.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.
Deposited in 2006 by Mrs Catriona Williams (a great great grand-daughter of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson), with thanks to Jennian Geddes.
Other Finding Aids
The Women's Library Catalogue