Ruth Crow was a passionate political and community activist for all of her adult life. Born in Ballarat, she studied in Melbourne, completing a Diploma of Institutional Management and Dietetics followed by studies in social work at the University of Melbourne. She took a keen interest in the health and nutrition of women and children during the Second World War and worked in various jobs relating to food and dietetics before moving on to roles in childcare and youth clubs.

Together with her husband Maurie, Ruth Crow was a lifelong member of the Communist Party and gained the tag ‘Red Ruth’. Throughout her life, she worked tirelessly in support of services for children, nutrition, energy conservation and housing. She was a dedicated member of the North Melbourne Association and advocated for responsible and sustainable urban development in Melbourne.

In 1972 she and Maurie received the Robin Boyd Award from the Victorian chapter of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and in 1973 the Barrett Medal from the Town and Country Planning Association for ‘notable contribution to planning’.

In 1990 Ruth Crow donated her and Maurie’s extensive collection of books, papers, pamphlets and artefacts to Victoria University Library. The Crow Collection is an important resource for researchers investigating a broad range of social issues.

Ruth Crow was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1993 and was inducted onto the Victorian Honour Roll of Women in 2008.



Victoria University Library

Wolfgang Sievers, Pictures Collection, State Library Victoria
Simon Lieschke




100 Cuppas – Ruth Crow

Episodes 1 and 2

Visionary activist Ruth Crow provided artists a way to explore ideas surrounding community gathering and change in North Melbourne. The two podcasts in this series follow the collaborative work of artists Lorna Hannon and Jen Rae, and their ongoing interest in Ruth Crow.

Artist & Deviser: Amy McMurtrie
Consultant Sound Artist and Technician: Michael Vescio
Commissioned by Arts House (2016) / Supported by City of Melbourne