Eleanor McDougall (1873-1956) was born in Manchester, and was educated at Manchester High School and the Moravian School in the Black Forest. She passed her London Matriculation in 1892.
In 1893, she entered Royal Holloway College, and in 1894 passed the London Intermediate Arts course, achieving Latin Honours Class II and German Honours Class I. During her time at Royal Holloway, McDougall was awarded several scholarships and awards, including an Entrance Scholarship in 1893, a Founder's Scholarship for Classics in 1895, and the Driver Prize in Latin Prose in 1895 and 1896. She was also awarded the Gilchrist Medal and Prize for Class I Honours in Classics in 1896. This prize was often awarded by the Gilchrist Educational Trust to provide financial aid to academically gifted women with insufficient means to finance their studies. McDougall graduated with a first class BA Honours degree in Classics in 1896.
The University of London awarded McDougall her MA in Classics in 1897, the same year she went on to pursue postgraduate research in archaeology at Cambridge. Many years later, in 1926, she was awarded her DLitt.
McDougall was appointed Resident Lecturer in Classics at Westfield College in 1902, and developed teaching in the area of archaeology. Her students fondly recalled evenings in her rooms when 'the origins and meanings of Greek myths and their influence on modern philosophy and creative thinking' were eagerly discussed.
In 1915, she moved to India and became the Founder Principal of the Women's Christian College in Madras, which is now affiliated with the University of Madras. She led the Women's Christian College for 23 years and made a lasting impact on staff and students alike. A former student and colleague, Somakumari Samarasinha, noted McDougall's 'powers of leadership' and how she was 'admired for her true womanliness of character and unshakeable faith in the power of Christ'. The McDougall Memorial Nursery School in Madras was founded in McDougall's honour at the time of her retirement in 1938.
During her long career in women's education, she was often requested to give counsel to colleagues within academic circles. She is noted as saying: 'We can do no better service to India, than to liberate the energies of wisdom and devotion which are latent in her women and to infuse into them the vital ideals of Christianity'. McDougall was awarded the Kaisar-i-Hind Gold Medal for service in British India in 1924.
Dedicated to both women's education and her Christian vocation, her work to establish the women's college in Madras strengthened both Westfield's international links and that of the 12 inter-denominational missionary societies in England and the USA.
The College Archives hold papers relating to Eleanor McDougall's time as Classics lecturer at Westfield and her work at the Christian Women's College in Madras. The Archives at Royal Holloway also hold papers relating to McDougall's time as an undergraduate.