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Alice Ravenhill was born March 31st, 1859, in Snaresbrook, Essex, England. Much of her childhood and young adulthood were spent in various schools, travelling, ill, and self-education. Her life in social welfare and education began in her preparations to be a County Council Lecturer with the National Health Society. In 1892 she commenced her studies and following these by 1893 she was touring villages and offering instruction on health, welfare, and hygiene. Then, from 1894 through 1897, she worked in London as the secretary to the Royal British Nurses Association. In 1897 she undertook training at a business school in London after which she lectured to the Co-operative Society and Women’s Co-operative Guild until 1898. At the same time she acted as the secretary of the School of Hygiene Section of the Royal Sanitary Institute Congress at Southampton, while also speaking at New College, Oxford.
In 1899 she started instructing teachers on health and welfare for the County Council of the West Riding of Yorkshire. She continued with the County Council until 1904 before falling ill. Alice remained convalescent for much her time through 1906. Then, after conducting research while commissioned to write an article for Cyclopaedia of Education in 1907, she was instrumental in the development of a degree course in Social and Household Science through Kings College, attached to the University of London; the course launched in 1908 at King’s College for Women.
In 1910, Alice, along with her brother, nephew, and sister, moved to Canada, settling in Shawnigan Lake, B.C. During the next seven years she worked with and delivered lectures on home economics throughout the province to the Women’s Institutes. In 1917, Alice took a position in Logan, Utah reorganizing and expanding the Department of Household Economics at the State College. In 1919, due to ill health, she returned to Vancouver Island, this time settling in Victoria. For the next four years, she again spent much of her time ill, followed by an extended period of caring for her subsequently ill sister.
In 1926, in conjunction with her work with the Women’s Institutes, she took an interest in indigenous art and began a study of West Coast indigenous cultures and their ethnology. This research culminated in various publications on the subject and in 1936 she assisted the Provincial Department of Education in the development of a school grade curriculum on the subject. In 1940 she helped found the Society for the Furtherance of B.C. Indian Arts and Crafts (currently the British Columbia Indian Arts and Welfare Society) in an effort to promote and preserve indigenous arts. In 1948 she was awarded an honorary doctorate of Science from the University of British Columbia for her contributions. Alice Ravenhill died May 27, 1954 in Victoria.
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Ravenhill, Alice. (1951). Memoirs of an Educational Pioneer. Toronto: J. M. Dent and Sons (Canada).