Patricia Crawford: Pioneering feminist historian who focused on women's lives in 17th-century England (Obit)

Historians in the News

The Australian historian Patricia Crawford, who has died aged 68, was a feminist pioneer. In 1980, when she started writing about 17th-century women, there was almost nothing in print on the subject. Today there is barely any aspect of ordinary women's lives in this extraordinary period that has not been written about; and in very many cases, the groundwork was done by Crawford. It was customary, until recently, for historians to lament the dearth of sources for the history of women in an era when most women were illiterate. Trish was among those who refused to believe this was the case: she learned to look, not just for the presence of women in archival documents, but for their absence.

Born Patricia Mary Clarke in Melbourne, Australia, Trish was the daughter of Jim Clarke, a marine surveyor, and Enid Fussell. She studied history at Melbourne University. In 1962 she moved with her husband, Ian Crawford, to Perth, where he took up a post in aboriginal studies at the Western Australian Museum, and she began postgraduate work at the University of Western Australia (UWA), where she was to spend the rest of her career.

Her early research reconstructed the complicated internal politics of the Long Parliament of the 1640s, resulting in a book, Denzil Holles, 1598-1680, which won the Royal Historical Society's Whitfield prize in 1979. Her first scholarly article, Charles Stuart, That Man of Blood, published in 1977 in the Journal of British Studies and still much valued, explained with stark clarity the contemporary rationale behind the trial and execution of Charles I. He had endangered his people; he was no longer immune to the laws of the kingdom....

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