Scran has recently been a part of the Audacious Women’s Festival and, as a result of some fortuitous meetings, we were delighted to learn about Chrystal Macmillan. We were aware that there is a Chrystal Macmillan Building at Edinburgh University, but were blissfully ignorant of her achievements; there was certainly very little mention of her on Scran before this February. Luckily, we crossed paths with Helen Kay who thought we might be interested in some digitised archive materials that were in the care of the Macmillan family. To cut a long story short, we were very interested, and these materials are now on Scran. Many thanks to Helen for bringing these images to our attention, and to John Herdman and Iain Macmillan for kindly allowing us to share them with our users.
Chrystal Macmillan was a a suffragist, a feminist, a peace activist and barrister. She was educated at St Andrews and the University of Edinburgh, where she was the first woman to graduate from the science faculty in 1896 with a first class honours degree in mathematics and natural philosophy. She became active in feminist causes, joining the Edinburgh National Society for Women’s Suffrage and later becoming an executive committee member of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS).
In 1908 presented her case to the House of Lords that female university graduates should be given the right to vote, later becoming secretary of the International Woman Suffrage Alliance. With the outbreak of World War I she turned her attention to peace activism, and following the Armistice she was an envoy from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) to the Paris Peace Conference, which was held in 1919. She went on to become a barrister in 1924.
You can read more of her story, see her family portraits and school life at scran.ac.uk/s/chrystal+macmillan.
Image © John Herdman| Licensor Scran