Born Helen Jack, at 175 Cumberland Street in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, Helen's parents were Helen L Kyle and William Jack. Her family moved to Ipswich while she was young, and she later went to school in London and Ipswich beford moving back to Glasgow as a teenager. Her father, a Master Baker, was a Catholic but converted to the Church of Scotland and was a conservative trade unionist.
Initially religious herself, she married widower Alexander Montgomerie Crawfurd (29 August 1828 - 31 May 1914), a Church of Scotland Minister, at 9 Park Avenue in Stirling on 19 September 1898, but became increasingly radical. Alexander died aged 85 at 17 Sutherland Street in Partick, Glasgow.
In 1944 Helen remarried, to widower George Anderson, Blacksmith and a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). He died on 2 February 1952 and Helen died at Mahson Cottage, Kilbride Avenue, Dunoon, Argyll, aged 76.
Crawfurd first became active in the women's suffrage movement around 1900, then in 1910 during a meeting in Rutherglen, she switched her support to the more radical Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) of the Pankhursts. In 1912, she smashed the windows of Jack Pease, Minister for Education, and received a one-month prison sentence. In March 1914, Helen was arrested in Glasgow when Emmeline Pankhurst was speaking, received another month in prison, and went on an eight-day hunger strike. Following one more arrest, she left the WSPU in protest at its support of World War I and joined the Independent Labour Party (ILP).
During the war, Crawfurd was involved with the Red Clydeside movement, including the Glasgow rent strikes in 1915 when she led the South Govan Women's Housing Association to resist rent increases and prevent evictions, and became secretary of the Women's Peace Crusade. She organized on 23 July 1916, the first demonstration of the Women's Peace Crusade, attended by 5,000 people. In 1918 she was also elected as Vice-chair of the Scottish division of the ILP. Shortly afterwards, she was a founder member of the ILP's left-wing faction which campaigned for it to affiliate to the Communist International. When this policy was defeated, she joined the new CPGB, within which she served on the Central Committee, and was involved with various journalistic projects. She also became secretary of Workers' International Relief.
Crawfurd ran in 1921 as the first Communist Party Candidate in the Govan Ward.
Crawfurd stood for the CPGB in Bothwell at the 1929 general election and Aberdeen North in 1931, but did not come close to election.
During the 1930s, Crawfurd was prominent in the Friends of the Soviet Union. She retired during World War II but was elected as Dunoon's first woman Town Councillor shortly after the war, retiring in 1947 due to poor health.