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Diaries of Eileen Younghusband, 1917-1930

Portrait of Eileen Younghusband

Dame Eileen Younghusband (1902-1981) was a key figure in the development of social work during the 20th century. Her archives, originally donated to the National Institute for Social Work, are held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick, and include documents relating to both her professional and personal life.

Eileen Younghusband’s diaries, written between 1917-1930, cover a transitional period in her life, beginning with her wartime childhood in an upper middle class home at Wimbledon and ending as she started her career as a tutor at the London School of Economics. They cover her ambivalent relationship with post-war ‘High Society’, growing interest in politics and issues of social justice, first steps towards social work (through the Whitechapel Care Committee and Bermondsey Princess Club) and education at the LSE, as well as the routine of daily life (particularly with regard to shopping, socialising and travelling).

All twenty two volumes of the diaries have been digitised and transcribed in full. A selection of other sources, including photograph albums from the First World War and immediate post-First World War period, have also been digitised.

Background information:

Who was Eileen Younghusband?

Who's Who in the Younghusband diaries

The diaries:

Diary, volume 1, September - December 1917

Subjects include: Holidaying at Minehead and Bath; daily life in Wimbledon; cultural activities (including "book mania", theatre-going and music); experiences of air raids; friendship with Peggy Leigh and confrontation with 'Bobs' Forbes; education at Miss Wolff's and private lessons from tutors; the murder of Cousin Eddy; war news.

Diary, volume 2, December 1917 - March 1918

Subjects include: daily life in Wimbledon; cultural activities (including acquisition of a gramophone, theatre-going and meeting Renee Kelly, her favourite actress); experiences of air raids; friendship with Peggy Leigh and confrontation with 'Bobs' Forbes; education; war news.

Diary, volume 3, March - May 1918

Subjects include: daily life in Wimbledon; cultural activities (including theatre-going, reading and music); experiences of air raids; viewing the tanks in Trafalgar Square; friendship with Peggy Leigh; education (including exams); holiday at Bath and in Devon; war news.

Diary, volume 4, May - September 1918

Subjects include: daily life in Wimbledon; cultural activities (including theatrical garden party, reading and music); friendship with Peggy Leigh (and blackmailing of Leigh by her governess); education; holiday at Minehead; moving to Warley Place, Essex, residence of famous gardener Miss Willmott; war news; the Spanish flu pandemic.

Diary, volume 5, September 1918 - February 1919

Subjects include: daily life at Warley Place and visits to London; cultural activities (including reading and music); education; Eileen's first dance; war news; Daddie's visits to France and Scapa Flow; Armistice Day and after in Brentwood and London; Spanish flu (including affliction of family members); moving to London.

Diary, volume 6, February - September 1919

Subjects include: daily life in London; cultural activities (including reading, music and theatre-going); education; royal encounters (including attendance at garden party); signing of the peace treaty; post-war celebrations and unrest; holiday in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

Diary, volume 7, September 1919 - March 1920

Subjects include: daily life in London; cultural activities (including reading, lectures and theatre-going); social events (including first dinner party, hosting a ball and meeting the Prince of Wales); clothes shopping; a stay in Bath; transport strike; Armistice Day commemorations; parental restrictions.

Diary, volume 8, March - June 1920

Subjects include: daily life in London; social events (including the Devonshire House Ball and wedding of Harold Macmillan and Lady Dorothy Cavendish); churchgoing, meetings with Rev. Dick Sheppard and Confirmation; joining St Martin's Guild of Fellowship and volunteering at St Martin's Girls' Club; German measles.

Diary, volume 9, June - August 1920

Subjects include: daily life in London; social events and cultural activities (including tennis at Wimbledon); holiday in Spa, Belgium, at the same time as the Spa Conference on post-war reparations (including observations on the conference of world leaders and information about the British community in Spa).

Diary, volume 10, September 1920 - March 1921

Subjects include: social and cultural activities; current events (including the coal strike and reading about Bolshevism); churchgoing and voluntary work; returning from Spa and holidays in Devon and Kent; joining the Near and Far Club committee; Armistice Day commemorations (including unveiling of the Cenotaph and burial of the Unknown Soldier); acting in St Martin in the Field's mystery play.

Diary, volume 11, March 1921 - June 1922

Subjects include: daily life in London; social events and cultural activities; current events; holiday in Scotland; news of the Everest expeditions; moving to Westerham, Kent.

Diary, volume 12, June 1922 - July 1923

Subjects include: daily life in Westerham, Kent, and regular visits to London; social events and cultural activities (including dances, parties and being presented as a debutante at Court); short stays with friends and acquaintances (including in several country houses and at Cambridge); current events.

Diary, volume 13, July - December 1923

Subjects include: daily life in Westerham, Kent, and regular visits to London; social events and cultural activities; short stays with family and family friends (including in Norfolk and Suffolk); hospitalisation and recovery from appendicitis; holiday in Sandwich, Kent.

Diary, volume 14, December 1923 - June 1924

Subjects include: daily life and a fire in Westerham, Kent; regular visits to London; social events and cultural activities (including acquisition of a radio); holiday in France with the Talbots; meeting Edith Ramsay and starting voluntary work as a London County Council Care Committee health visitor in Whitechapel, East London.

Diary, volume 15, June - October 1924

Subjects include: daily life in Westerham, Kent (including Westerham and West Kent W.I. pageants); regular visits to London; social events and cultural activities (including Naval Review); short stays with family and friends (including in Hampshire, Dorset, and yachting at Cowes); voluntary work in Whitechapel; transatlantic voyage and time in Massachusetts, USA (including stay with the Forbes family on Naushon Island).

Diary, volume 16, October - December 1924

Subjects include: social life and tourism in the United States (including in Boston and New York); return voyage to Britain on the SS America; re-adjusting to English ways; a return to daily life in Westerham, Kent (including the installation of electric lighting in the house); visits to London.

Diary, volume 17, December 1924 - June 1925

Subjects include: starting work at the Princess Club, Bermondsey, and doing London County Council Care Committee visits; weekends at Westerham; staying with Bermondsey girls at Miss Bulley's cottage, Wrotham; social events and cultural activities.

Diary, volume 18, June - December 1925

Subjects include: work and lodging at the Princess Club, Bermondsey, and doing London County Council Care Committee visits; weekends at Westerham; staying with Bermondsey girls at Miss Bulley's cottage, Wrotham; short stays with family and friends (including in Dorset and at Stoneleigh); social events and cultural activities.

Diary, volume 19, December 1925 - April 1926

Subjects include: work and lodging at the Princess Club, Bermondsey, and doing London County Council Care Committee visits; weekends at Westerham; holiday in Italy (including time in Baveno, Genoa, Rome, Assisi, Perugia and Florence); social events and cultural activities.

Diary, volume 20, April - July 1926

Subjects include: holiday in Italy and Switzerland (including time in Florence, Milan, Zermatt and Montreux); Westerham and London during the General Strike; return to the Princess Club, Bermondsey; events at a 'religious conversion' house party.

Diary, volume 21, July 1926 - November 1928

A diary interrupted by two serious illnesses (polio and concussion). Other subjects include: becoming a student at the London School of Economics; the death of Mrs Short; visits to the Princess Club and other welfare institutions; a yacht trip to the Netherlands; holiday in Scotland; attending the Universal Religious Peace Conference in Geneva, and visiting the League of Nations, the Saar and the battlefield of Verdun; social events and cultural activities.

Diary, volume 22, November 1928 - August 1930

Subjects include: time as a student and tutor at the London School of Economics; the death of Mrs Idie; visits to the Princess Club and other welfare institutions; social events and cultural activities.

Other sources:

These documents are available through Warwick Digital Collections.

Photograph album, 1913-1914

Mostly holiday photographs taken by Eileen Younghusband at Westgate during Jun-Jul 1914.

Photograph album, 1913-1916

Photographs taken by Eileen Younghusband. Includes views of holidays at Weston-super-Mare in 1913 and 1915, shots of family and friends, and views of the family home at Bath and Wimbledon.

Photograph album, 1916-1918

Photographs of holidays, family and friends. Includes views of Wimbledon, Minehead (and surrounding area), Bath, Kew Gardens and 'The Glen'.

Photograph album, 1916, 1918

Photographs taken whilst staying with Major Dunlop at 'The Glen', Leusden, Devon.

Photograph album, [1917-1918?]

Photographs likely to have been taken whilst the Younghusbands were living at Mill Cottage, Wimbledon. Includes images of family and friends, scenic views and pictures of the family dogs

Notebook of books read, 1922-1925

A record of Eileen Younghusband's fiction and non-fiction reading.

Princess Club autograph album, 1925

Contains short messages from young women connected with the Princess Club, Bermondsey.