During fifty years of political and social activism in Melbourne, Ruth Crow A.M. (1916–1999) and Maurie Crow (1915–1988) resourced several generations of urban campaigners, particularly during their residence in North Melbourne.

Their collection of printed material and working papers constitutes an important basis for understanding the wide variety of causes with which they were associated – from Ruth's work with women and children in Brunswick during World War II, and Maurie's in the Clerk's Union, to the pioneering work they did from the 1960s onwards in relation to public participation in urban planning, building neighbourhood communities and creating a sustainable future.

Who were Ruth & Maurie Crow?

Ruth Crow (born 1916) and Maurie Crow (born 1915) were involved in movements on urban issues from the mid-1930s. Their commitment to social justice and collectivism was founded in their membership of the Communist Party as young people, and their ongoing involvement in trade unions and activist organisations throughout their lives.

Hugely influential was their pioneering work A Plan for Melbourne: Part I (1969), Part II (1970), and Part III (1972).

In recognition of the Crows' lifetime of achievement, the City of Melbourne unveiled a memorial plaque in the Australian Native Gardens, Royal Park on 16 September 2000. The inscription reads:

"Commemorating the lives and work of Ruth and Maurie Crow. Activists in social and environmental planning. They inspired, guided and encouraged our communities in seeking to make a better world."

What's in the collection

The Ruth and Maurie Crow collection contains:

  • approximately 2000 books and 700 pamphlets
  • periodicals
  • reports
  • working papers
  • news clippings
  • educational aids
  • other miscellaneous materials.

Themes across the material include suburban communities and neighbourhoods, social welfare, health, children's services, housing, transport, and women’s issues. The Crow collection has been extended by many donations and unique material from the Victoria University Library.

The collection includes personal papers of Ruth and Maurie Crow, the archives of the Crow Collection Association, and research files from the Crow Collection Library. Many research files in this collection complement the research files already listed in the Victoria University Library index Classified listing of cuttings and unpublished material.

Some of the unpublished material include:

  • alternative plans to the MMBW 1972 Metropolitan Plan
  • material on the campaigns against freeways and urban renewal in the 1970s
  • the inner urban action movement from 1965 to 1990
  • community planning and the preparation and implementation of the Melbourne City Council Strategy Plan from 1973 to 1987
  • the development of community newspapers, community health services and neighbourhood houses
  • the preparation of publications such as Seeds for Change, Nunawading Energy Study and Frayed Nerves or Freight Centres.

A digitisation project of significant unpublished and out of print material from the Crow Papers has made some documents available through Crow Papers category on the VU Research Repository.

Further information regarding the Ruth and Maurie Crow collection can be viewed on the VU Special Collections - how to access and use guide.

Access to the collection

The Ruth and Maurie Crow collection is a research collection. The items can't be borrowed, but may be viewed on appointment.

In the library catalogue, these items have the prefix FTS CROW COLL. before the shelf number.

To access material in the collection, please email our Special Collections librarians. You will receive an emailed response within five working days (Monday–Friday) and a suitable time will be arranged.

You can view the items in the Special Collections reading room on level 4 of the Footscray Park campus library.

Email: [email protected].

Contact us

The Special Collections at Victoria University are currently closed to all visitors.

You can still contact the Special Collections Librarians with your questions.

Email: [email protected]