Patricia "Trish" Crawford, born Patricia Mary Clarke in Melbourne, Australia, studied history at Melbourne University. In 1962, she moved with her husband, Ian Crawford, to Perth, where she began postgraduate work at the University of Western Australia (UWA). She spent her entire career at UWA, becoming a pioneering feminist historian along the way. She achieved tenure in 1976, and was named the first female professor in UWA's Department of History in 1995. In 1980, she started writing about 17th-century women when there was very little in print on the subject, laying the groundwork for scholarship today. Her first book, Denzil Holles, 1598-1680: A Study of His Political Career, which described the complicated internal politics of the English Long Parliament of the 1640s, won the prestigious Whitfield Prize from the Royal Historical Society in 1979. Prof. Crawford eventually turned from political history to social history, producing a series of articles and books whose topics included motherhood, religion, and sex. In 1981, she published an article called "Attitudes to Menstruation in Seventeenth-Century England," noting that some of the most unlikely beliefs about menstruation were still being debated in The Lancet as late as 1974.
Prof. Crawford was passionate about the importance of women's everyday lives and objects as archival documents and primary sources. She was a mentor and collaborator to many women students and colleagues. Women in Early Modern England (1998) was the culmination of nearly 20 years of work and friendship with her co-author Sara Mendelson. Prof. Crawford died after a long battle with breast cancer at age 68. Parents of Poor Children in England, 1580-1800, her final book, was published posthumously.