Farewell V, Johnson A† (2010). Hilda Woods (1892-1971).

© Vern Farewell and Tony Johnson†, MRC Biostatistics Unit Institute of Public Health, University Forvie Site, Robinson Way, Cambridge CB2 2SR UK.Email: vern.farewell@mrc-bsu.cam.ac.uk; tony.johnson@mrc-bsu.cam.ac.uk

Cite as: Farewell V, Johnson A† (2010). Hilda Woods (1892-1971). JLL Bulletin: Commentaries on the history of treatment evaluation (https://www.jameslindlibrary.org/articles/hilda-woods-1892-1971/)

Hilda Woods was born in 1892 in Doddershall, Quainton, England, the daughter of William Ashburnham Woods and Mary Ann Woods (formerly Markham). She started government work in 1916 with Major Greenwood at the Ministry of Munitions. Moving with Greenwood, she worked subsequently at the Ministry of Health in Statistical Services being later seconded to the Medical Research Council’s National Institute of Medical Research. She moved again with Greenwood to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in 1928 and was appointed the first female assistant lecturer in the school. Woods was elected a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society in 1926, proposed by Major Greenwood and seconded by THC Stevenson, the Superintendent of Statistics at the General Register Office from 1909 to 1933. In May 1933 Hilda Woods was awarded a DSc by the University of London, titled “Vital Statistics” and based on nine works on medical statistics and epidemiology. Her examiners were Major Greenwood (internal) and Sir George Buchanan (1869-1936) who in 1934 was Master of the Society of Apothecaries of London. On 17 November 1933, Woods sailed from London on the Orama (Orient line) which was bound for Australia; she disembarked at Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and in December married Roger Warburton Fowke. After her husband’s sudden death two months later, she undertook a range of social service work and on 23 June 1936 she was awarded Membership of the Order of the British Empire (MBE, Colonial Office List) for social services in Ceylon. She returned to England due to ill health but recovered and worked in the Ministry of Food during World War II, again collaborating with Major Greenwood on some studies of nutrition. After the war, she moved to Kenya with family members and did not work in medical statistics subsequently. In later years, she lived in Australia, Rhodesia and again back in England. In 1970 she moved to the Transvaal, South Africa where she died on 29 November 1971

A detailed biographical article has been published in the Journal of the Royal Statistical Society and is available here


It is our great pleasure to acknowledge the help we have received from Rosemary Gear the niece (and adopted daughter) of Hilda Mary Woods.

Nine publications (in order of presentation) submitted by Hilda Mary Woods for her Doctorate in Science, May 1933

Woods HM. Epidemiological Study of Scarlet Fever in England and Wales since 1900. MRC Special Report Series No. 180, HMSO, 1933.

Woods HM. On the statistical epidemiology of respiratory disease. Lancet 1928: 17 March:539-543.

Woods HM. Statistical study of scarlet fever and diphtheria. Journal of Hygiene 1928:XXVIII(2):147-162.

Woods HM. The influence of external factors on the mortality from pneumonia in childhood and later adult life. Journal of Hygiene 1927:XXVI(1):37-43.

Woods HM. A note on the graphic method of graduation in the construction of life-tables. Lancet 1929:4 May:941-942.

Greenwood M, Woods HM. “Status thymico-lymphaticus” considered in the light of recent work on the thymus. Journal of Hygiene 1927:XXVI(3):305-326.

Durham FM, Woods HM. Alcohol and inheritance: an experimental study. Medical research Council Special Report Series No. 168, 1932.

Woods HM, Stallybrass. The part played by meteorological conditions on respiratory mortality in Liverpool. Journal of Hygiene 1932:XXXII(1):67-78.

Greenwood R, Thompson CM, Woods HM. Heights and weights of patients in mental hospitals. Biometrika 1925:XVII(I+2):142-158.

Other papers not included in her thesis

Fowke H. The effect of supplements of vitamins and minerals on the health of girls. British Medical Journal 1943:ii:519.

Fowke HM. Discussion of The statistical validity of methods used in budgetary and dietary surveys by Greenwood M (Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 1945:3:23-28), Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 1945:3:28-30.

Greenwood M, Woods HM
A report on the incidence of industrial accidents upon individuals with special reference to multiple accidents. Reports of the Industrial Fatigue Research Board, no. 4, London, 1919.