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Charity Begins at Home

This is an on-line version of an exhibition staged at the Centre for a workshop organised by the Economic History Society and the Voluntary Action History Society on 27 March 2010. The items were chosen to illustrate some of the research interests of those attending.

Click on the thumbnails to see a larger version of each document. Reference codes link to document descriptions in our on-line catalogues.

Encouraging thrift and providence

Mary Stewart Memo on almonerMemo on almoner 

Left: Mary Stewart, who in 1895 became the first hospital almoner when she was appointed at the Royal Free Hospital in London under the auspices of the Charity Organisation Society, a body which sought to make the administration of charitable giving more efficient and systematic. She was the founder of the profession which came to be known as medical social work.

Right: Part of a memorandum on the report by one of Stewart's successors [Maud Brimmell] to the board of the Royal Free Hospital, 1903. This describes the efforts the hospital had made since Stewart's appointment to relieve pressure on the out-patients department by "systematic enquiry into the circumstances of applicants for Medical and Surgical relief".

Institute of Medical Social Workers archive: MSS.378/IMSW/A/1/2/58 and MSS.378/IMSW/A/1/2/41

Homes for working girls

YWCA institutes  

“A place where she can spend a pleasant social time after the day’s routine is over” 

A description of the Young Women’s Christian Association institutes from Y.W.C.A. sketches. A record of the “Young Women’s Christian Association,” from 1855 to the diamond jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Victoria, June 22 1897.

Young Women's Christian Society archive: MSS.243/12/9

A sense of adventure

Crawley Adventure PlaygroundCrawley Adventure Playground diary (1) Crawley Adventure Playground diary (2)  
Adventure playground radio script (1)Adventure playground radio script (2) 

“I don’t mind the noise and I don’t think it is an eyesore”

Above left: a view of the Crawley Adventure Playground from a booklet issued to mark its first year of operation, 1955, in which the above comment by a tolerant neighbour appears. Above right: part of the sometimes hair-raising diary kept by the playground’s leader, which also features in the booklet. Left: script for a radio talk giving a clear insight into the motives for establishing such playgrounds, 1952.

Papers of Marjory Allen, Lady Allen of Hurtwood, promoter of child welfare: MSS.121/AP/3/11/1/1-2 and MSS.121/AP/7/4/2i-ii


A national treasure

Illustrations of An account of almshouses published by the National Association of Almshouses, 1950s

This booklet was sent to Sir Vincent Tewson, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, and was placed in a TUC file on various aspects of social services for old people. The aim of the booklet was to remedy the general ignorance about almshouses and “to arouse a justifiable pride and interest in so characteristic and valuable an aspect of our national heritage”. Pictured here are Ford's Hospital in Coventry (left), Sackville College in East Grinstead (top right) and Sir Baptist Hicks' Almshouses in Chipping Campden (bottom right).

Trades Union Congress archive: MSS.292/805/4

Almshouse booklet