University of Cambridge, 4 Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RZ, UK
Dame Myra Curtis DBE (October 2, 1886 – June 27, 1971) was an editor, civil servant, and the principal of Newnham College, Cambridge from 1942 to 1954.
Curtis was born on October 2, 1886 at Sunderland. She was the daughter of George Curtis and Annie Johnson. The former worked at the Post Office while his wife was an elementary school teacher. Curtis was educated at Allan's Endowed Girls' School, Newcastle upon Tyne, Winchester High School and Newnham College, Cambridge.
After finishing school, she became the editor of the Victoria County History, where also worked Madeleine Hope Dodds, her college friend. In London she shared a flat with historian Marjory Stephenson, a British biochemist.
Curtis' civil service career began in 1915 when she became part of the temporary staff of the War Trade Intelligence Department. By 1918, she transferred to the Ministry of Food and became the Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Establishment Branch from 1920 to 1922. She became a permanent civil servant in 1923 after passing the first competitive examination for super-clerical grade women, in which she placed first. She then held positions in the Ministry of Pensions and the Post Office. Later, she was assumed the Assistant Secretary and Director of Women's Establishments in the Treasury, which was considered the premier women's post in the Civil Service. She retired from government work in 1942.
Curtis headed a government committee addressing children care for England and Wales in 1946. This resulted to the so-called Curtis Report, which was described as "the first enquiry in this country directed specifically to the care of children deprived of a normal home life". It was presented to the Labour government, which replaced the war-time coalition government in 1945. The report led to the enactment of the Children Act of 1948, which mandated that every local authority must set up a children's committee to advance children's interests.
Curtis was created a Dame of the British Empire in 1949.
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