Martindale, Hilda (1875–1952)

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Martindale, Hilda (1875–1952)

British civil servant . Born in London, England, in 1875; died in 1952; daughter of William Martindale (a merchant) and Louisa (Edwards) Martindale (1839–1914, a suffragist and educational advocate); sister of Louisa Martindale (a well-known obstetrician and gynecologist); educated in Germany, Brighton High School, and the Royal Holloway College and Bedford College in London.

Hilda Martindale was born in London, England, in 1875, the second of two daughters of Louisa Martindale , a noted advocate of women's suffrage and an outspoken supporter of the Liberal Party, and William Martindale, who died when she was a child. After attending primary school in Germany, Martindale returned to England when her mother and sister, also named Louisa, moved to Brighton in 1885. She attended the Brighton High School for Girls before leaving to study hygiene and sanitary sciences at the Royal Holloway College and Bedford College in London.

Following her graduation from college, Hilda Martindale went on a world tour with her mother and sister to study state programs for the care of indigent children. (Her sister would later become a well-known obstetrician and gynecologist.) Upon her return to England, Hilda secured a position in the civil service as a factory inspector under the supervision of Adelaide Anderson . Martindale's work as an inspector led her in 1903 to write an influential report on lead poisoning suffered by workers in brick factories, and to become a supporter of Gertrude Tuckwell 's efforts to eradicate lead in household and occupational environments. Hilda went on to conduct an examination of working conditions in Ireland in 1905.

Martindale rose steadily through the ranks of the civil service, obtaining the posts of senior lady inspector in 1908, superintending inspector in 1921, and deputy chief inspector in 1925. She was especially noted for her work in integrating women into formerly male-dominated areas of industrial employment, which was of crucial importance during World War I. Notwithstanding her conviction that separate treatment violated the principle of equal opportunity, she was in 1933 named director of women establishments in the Treasury Department; this made her one of the first women to secure a position in the highest ranks of the civil service. Martindale served as a member of the Whitley Council Committee on the Women's Question and became an advocate of equal pay for women and an opponent of mandatory retirement for women who married while employed. She was awarded the Order of the Commander of the British Empire in 1935. Hilda Martindale retired in 1937 to pursue a writing career and published several books, including Women Servants of the State,1870–1938 (1938), One Generation to Another (1944), which was about her family, and Some Victorian Portraits (1948). She died in 1952.


The Concise Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford and NY: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Uglow, Jennifer S., ed. The International Dictionary of Women's Biography. NY: Continuum Press, 1989.

Grant Eldridge , freelance writer, Pontiac, Michigan

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Martindale, Hilda (1875–1952)

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