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A brief biography of Rhoda Fraser

by Graham Stevenson

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The first Women's Department in the Scottish district of the Communist Party was run by Agnes Maxwell in 1944. Rhoda Fraser (nee Jupp), an Edinburgh Party member, very soon was to take over as Secretary of the Scottish Women's Advisory Committee.

She led around a hundred women to invade the Board of Trade in February 1947, demanding price reductions and better quality goods. A campaign on crèches and nurseries began. That year, she was elected to the Executive Committee of the national Party.

Rhoda organised a peace bus which toured Scotland in June 1949, being sent off by Scotland's veteran Communist women's leader, Helen Crawfurd Anderson, who was by then very old and this was as the last public appearance she made.

A lot of the Scottish Party’s women's energy went into the Women's Assembly - a broad based national body. In 1953, the first Scottish National Assembly of Women took place. By 1956 there were committees of the Women's Assembly in Glasgow, Aberdeen and Dundee but the Scottish Party was critical of itself and its women’s groups for not done more to boost the potential of this work. In 1955, Rhoda left the role of Scottish Women's Organiser and came off of the Executive Committee. In due course, she also left the Party. Marion Henery took over in 1956.

Having moved back to Edinburgh, Rhoda Fraser was a peace campaigner during the 1960s. In 1969 she interrupted a reception for the Ambassador for South Vietnam, the pro-US segment that would not survive, to denounce his government. Suffering unhappy personal circumstances and clinical depression, she committed suicide in 1970.