Sylvia Thrupp was remarkable for various reasons, not the least of which was her decision to get married at age 83.

A UBC-based historian from 1925 to 1944, Sylvia L. Thrupp was once described as a "foremother of medievalists."; Her book, The Worshipful Company of Bakers (1933), describes the London Bakers guild which has been around since the 12th century.

In British Columbia, she expressed her view that knowledge of local history is essential. Accordingly she wrote, A History of the Cranbrook District in East Kootenay. University of British Columbia (1929).

A friend and colleague of Syvia Thrupp, Raymond Grew, of the University of Michigan, once admiringly recognized Sylvia Thrupp's ability to thrive in male-dominated academe and provided a concise summary of her professional career.

"Thrupp had made her way in a scholarly world reluctant to grant women permanent positions, battling without bitterness for ideas more than status.

"Born in Surrey, England, in 1903, Sylvia Thrupp immigrated to British Columbia with her family when she was five. She received her BA from the University of British Columbia in 1925 and her MA in 1928. After teaching in high schools in British Columbia from 1926 to 1928, she went to England, receiving her Ph.D from the University of London in 1931 and remaining abroad as a postdoctoral fellow until 1935.

Thrupp was an instructor in history at the University of British Columbia from 1935 to 1944 and a special lecturer in history at the University of Toronto the following year. From 1945 to 1968 she was assistant professor and then associate professor of history at the University of Chicago, with visiting professorships at the State University of Iowa and the University of Wisconsin. In 1961 Sylvia was named to the newly established Alice Freeman Palmer Chair at the University Michigan, a chair named for the founding president of Wellesley College, a Michigan alumna.

At the age of 83 she married a fellow medievalist, Joseph R. Strayer, who had retired from Princeton, and spent a happy year with him there before his sudden death. She then moved to California to live with her nephew, Dr. Lauri Thrupp.

Publications and awards can hardly capture, however, the importance of her personal ties to leading scholars in many disciplines, her influence on students and colleagues, her gift for friendship, and the delight of her charm and irrepressible wit. All of that is remembered with gratitude by all who knew her."

Dr. Thrupp died of Alzheimers disease in 1997.


A History of the Cranbrook District in East Kootenay. University of British Columbia, 1929.

The Worshipful Company of Bakers (1933)

The Merchant Class of Medieval London

Change in Medieval Society

Millenial Dreams in Action

[BCBW 2015]