Papers of Marjorie Rackstraw (1888-1981), Warden of Masson Hall, Edinburgh University

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-705
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3 boxes, 1 large envelope, 1 box slides, 1 bundle picture postcards. Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.
  • Location

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: unsorted letters, cards, newspaper cuttings; a soft leather folder of unsorted letters; 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 picture postcards; a document from Buckingham Palace announcing the award of OBE; and, a box of Ilford lantern slides of Russia.

Administrative / Biographical History

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.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

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


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using material contained within the collection.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

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.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.