Lucy Perkins Carner was born in York, Pennsylvania on November 30, 1886 to Albert Bigelow Carner and Mary Perkins Carner. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1908 (where she developed a life-long friendship with peace activists, Tracy Mygatt and Frances Witherspoon), and received an M.A. in Sociology from Columbia University in 1924. She worked with the YWCA from 1910-1936 in various roles, in Pennsylvania and New York. Of note was her involvement in organizing young factory workers to agitate for union organization and racial integration. From 1937-1953, Carner was the Secretary of the Education Division of the Council of Social Agencies in Chicago, Illinois. Carner was a Quaker by conviction. Because of her interest in peace and justice, she served on the board of such organizations as the American Friends Service Committee, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, the War Resisters League, and the United World Federalists. She also joined the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and served as a member of the national board and chair of its policy committee, and gave leadership to the Pennsylvania State Branch and the Germantown Branch. She joined the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP. Her interests were broad, and her desire to actively resist injustice was demonstrated over and over throughout her life. While living in Chicago she was engaged in the struggles in Chicago for decent housing, jobs, recreation and access for minorities. In the early 1940s, she joined members of the Congress on Racial Equality in sit-ins all over Chicago, and in many quiet ways she made her position known to stores and restaurants that discriminated against minorities. For a number of years she withheld taxes in order to protest the amount of the federal budget that went toward military spending. She protested the war in Vietnam, and petitioned against the use of anti-ballistic missiles. At the age of 85 she participated in a demonstration at Fort Detrick against germ warfare, where she stood for two days at the camp entrance with a sign that read "Make This a Health Center."
After Carner's retirement in 1952, she moved back to Philadelphia. She joined the faculty of Bryn Mawr College as an adjunct professor of the School of Social Work, where she taught community organization. Carner died on February 20, 1983.