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Sources for the history of health and work

This guide provides an outline of the main sources on the subject of health and work which are held at the Modern Records Centre (hereafter MRC), most of which form part of the records of the Trades Union Congress archive or the British Employers Conferation archive. Relevant files from other archives, including examples of health problems affecting individual trade unions, are also indicated. Links are given to relevant on-line finding aids, or to sections of finding aids in the case of the Trades Union Congress archive.

The guide is divided into the following main sections:

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) archive

The TUC was established in Manchester in 1868 as a voluntary association of trade unions and the records held by the MRC date from 1920, when the General Council took over from the work of the Parliamentary Committee and a central registry of records was established. The TUC files demonstrate the growing interest and involvement of the trade union movement in health issues, providing evidence of the numerous ways in which the TUC and individual unions sought to investigate health risks and participate with other agencies to find solutions.

The catalogues of the TUC archives are available both in the MRC and online and provide a detailed description of individual files. In addition to the material on health and work described here, the TUC archive also includes sections on general health issues, with sequences on non-industrial diseases, on hospitals, on medical personnel, on medical organisations and nutrition and food hygiene (MSS.292/840/1 - 846.2/3). A series on the National Health Services is also held and includes files on costs and services, representation on boards and committees, pharmaceutical and ophthalmic services, mental hospitals and mental health, general practitioners and dentists (MSS.292/847/1 - 847.92/4). The archive is arranged in accordance with the TUC’s central registry system which was developed in the early 1920s. Files from all time periods are arranged by subject according to a decimal classification scheme and the prefixes MSS.292, MSS.292B and MSS.292D identify the records belonging to the periods 1920-60, 1960-70 and 1970-90 respectively. Supplemental material for the period 1920-60 is denoted by the prefix MSS.292C.

The British Employers Confederation (BEC) archive

These TUC sources are matched where possible with the corresponding files held in the archives of the British Employers’ Confederation, which had its origins in the Employers’ Advisory Council that was established in 1917 to consider questions of labour relations. The BEC merged with the Federation of British Industries and the National Association of British Manufacturers in 1965 to form the Confederation of British Industry.

Industrial Health: General Correspondence and Conferences

General Correspondence:

TUC files MSS. 292/140/1-3 and MSS.292B/136/3-4 contain varied correspondence on industrial health and illness, research into occupational health and occupational hygiene from the periods 1924-60 and 1960-69 respectively.

Medical Advisor:

In 1930 the TUC appointed Sir Thomas Legge, a former medical inspector of factories, as their first medical advisor. After Legge’s death in 1932, Dr H.B. Morgan was appointed as his successor. Files include correspondence regarding the appointment of the medical advisors, queries from trade unions, medical cases, reports and notes for a book (MSS. 292/140.9/1-2: 1930-60; MSS.292C/140.9/1-5: 1932-41; MSS.292B/136/15-16: 1961-67).

The papers of Dr Robert Murray, Medical and Industrial Safety Advisor for the TUC between 1962 and 1974 include files on the Royal Commission of Medical Education, convalescence schemes and the occupational health services.

Industrial Health Conferences:

A series of TUC files contain correspondence, circulars and other documents regarding various area conferences on industrial health and workmen’s compensation held at Bradford, London, Nottingham, Cardiff, Manchester and Newcastle. (MSS.292/140.61/3/1-6: 1930-31; MSS.292/140.61/4: 1930-32 and MSS.292B/141.3/2: 1960-62).

There are also files within the BEC archive relating to a conference on safety in coal mines (MSS.200/B/3/2/C1021: 1949-57), a safety conference in Eastbourne (MSS.200/B/3/2/C1220 pts 1-2, pt B: 1957) and a 1962 conference on safety and health in industry (MSS.200/B/3/3/511.1-511.3: 1962-65).

Correspondence on Legislation Governing Working Conditions:

Included in this set of TUC files is correspondence relating to the development and application of the 1937, 1948 and 1959 Factory Acts and the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act. The files also contain correspondence regarding the Gowers Committee, which was established to enquire into the health, welfare and safety of places not regulated by the Factories, Mines or Quarries Acts (MSS.292/145/1-145.91/2: 1920-60; and MSS.292D/145.85/1-41: 1970-90).

Two BEC files relating to factory legislation also exist and contain correspondence, memoranda, publications, reports and minutes (MSS.200/B/3/2/C675 pt 2: 1952-57 and MSS.200/B/3/3/515 pts 1-2: 1958-59).

Industrial Disease

A series of TUC files relate to industrial diseases (MSS.292/144/1-144.6/5: 1924-48; MSS.292B/174.1/1-174.7/7: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/174-174.91: 1970-90). Files in the earlier MSS.292 series are mainly concerned with the campaign to have these diseases scheduled as industrial diseases under the Workmen’s Compensation Acts; including resolutions and deputations to the Home Office. Later files in the MSS.292B and MSS.292D series contain more material relating to research and prevention.

Occupational Diseases:

File series include Boilermakers’ Deafness (MSS.292/144.13/2: 1932-33); Writers’ Cramp (MSS.292/144.13/3: 1925-31); Health problems associated with the use of pneumatic tools (MSS. 292/144.13/4-5: 1924-47); Anthrax (MSS.292/144.211/6: 1924-47; MSS.292B/174.1/9-10: 1960-70); Dermatitis and Skin Diseases (MSS.292/144.2/2-5:1925-47; MSS.292B/174.1/5-6: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/174.21-194.21/2:1970-90)

Lung Diseases:

A series of files on silicosis are held which include correspondence, individual cases, memoranda, deputations, Home Office regulations, details of the Silicosis (Medical Arrangements) Scheme and silicosis in particular trades (MSS.292/144.3/5-9:1927-45; MSS. 292/144.34/1-4: 1928-47; MSS. 292/144.341/1-9 1924-41 and MSS.292B/174.34/7: 1961-64). Files MSS.292B/174.3/1-2: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/174.3/1-5: 1970-90 contain general material on lung diseases. Files are held containing material on Asbestosis (MSS.292B/174.331/1-3 and MSS.292D/174.331/1-12: 1970-90); Byssinosis (MSS.292/144.3/2: 1930-44; MSS.292B/174.3/3-4: 1961-70 and MSS.292D/174.31: 1971-80); Pneumoconiosis (MSS.292B/174.34/1-9: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/174.34: 1970-75); Tuberculosis (MSS.292B/174.34/10-11: 1960-69); Farmer’s Lung (MSS.292B/174.36-3-4: 1961-68) and Brucellosis (MSS.292B/174.36/5-6: 1964-70).

Ear and Eye problems:

Several files contain reports and correspondence on the subject of visual display units and other hazards posed to eyesight (MSS.292/144.6/1-5: 1925-47; MSS.292B/174.535/4-5 and MSS.292D/174.6/1-3). Other files contain correspondence, reports and minutes of the Health and Safety Working Group on the subject of industrial noise and deafness (MSS.292B/174.62/1-3 and MSS.292D/174.62/1-10 ).

Industrial Poisoning, Systematic Diseases and Radiation:

Files in this series include correspondence on systemic poisoning and systematic diseases such as jaundice, hepatitis, and cancer (MSS. 292/144.4/1: 1931-48; MSS.292B/174.5/1-7: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/174.5-174.52: 1970-90). There are also files on poisoning by lead, fumes and chemicals (MSS.292/144.4/2-144.54/10:1920-60; MSS.292B/174.4/1-174.43/11: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/174.4/1-174.48: 1970-90). A further series of files cover radiation risks and include correspondence, booklets, details of courses and conferences and minutes of committees (MSS.292B/174.53/1-174.535/3: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/174.53/1-174.54: 1970-90).

Industrial Illnesses and Accidents Amongst Construction Workers:

Records of unions representing employees in the building trades contain material on the health hazards they faced during the course of their work. The Reports of the Friendly Society for the Manchester Unity Operative Bricklayers Society list funeral benefits, accident pay and new cases (MSS.78/MB/4/1/1-50: 1868-1918) while the union’s Monthly Report and Trade Journal includes reports of legal cases involving workmen’s compensation (MSS.78/MB/4/2/1-20: 1902-21). The balance sheets from branches contain the names and ages of members receiving sickness benefit, listing the nature of their illnesses (MSS.78/OB/2/2/1-90: 1908-20). The records of the Operative Society of Masons, Quarrymen and Allied Trades include the Society’s publication Fortnightly Returns, which gives details of individuals applying for benefits (MSS.78/OS/4/1/1-98: 1834-1910). The archive of the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers contains a series of files relating to silicosis, including efforts to obtain evidence regarding the incidence of silicosis amongst stoneworkers, correspondence and compensation schemes established under the Workmen’s Compensation Act (MSS.78/AU/3/2/1-7: 1921-33). A further series of files contain workmen’s compensation case papers (MSS.78/AU/6/Com/1-19: 1925-30).

Accidents, Injuries, Safety and Rehabilitation


TUC files MSS.292/146.1/1-6: 1927-34; MSS.292B/146/1-7: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/146/1-7: 1971-90 contain correspondence on the subject of accidents and accident prevention with groups such as the trades councils, the International Labour Office and International Federation of Trade Unions, Ministry of Labour and the British Safety Council.

BEC files MSS.200/B/3/2/C583 pts 8-9: 1931-48 contain correspondence, circulars and reports on international safety regulations and the prevention of accidents.

Accidents on the Railways:

Files for the National Union of Railwaymen, hereafter NUR contain publications, papers and statistics on railway accident and safety (MSS.127/NU/GS/3/21A-D:1899-1945). Files regarding the Railway Employment Safety Appliances Committee which was appointed by the Board of Trade, are held by the NUR and by the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants which amalgamated with other unions to form the NUR in 1913. The files contain reports, correspondence and memoranda (MSS.127/NU/GS/3/22: 1906-1947) and the papers of the MP Richard Bell regarding the Committee (MSS.127/AS/3/1/4b: 1906-10). Other files contain reports of a sub-committee which was preparing evidence to the Departmental Committee on Railway Accidents (MSS.127/NU/1/1/2: 1914) and a NUR publication, Railway Accidents. Report of Committee of Investigation (MSS.127/NU/1/1/23: 1935). A series of cases of workers seeking compensation for accidents or injuries arising from their work are also held (MSS.127/NU/LE/7/1-17: 1915-39).

Injuries and Protective Clothing:

On the subject of industrial injuries, the TUC archive holds a series of general correspondence and papers (MSS.292/170/1:1946-60; MSS.292B/170/1: 1961 and MSS.292D/170/1-2: 1973-90). The MRC also holds a series of files containing the correspondence, documents, minutes and papers of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, a statutory body established in 1948 under the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act 1946 (MSS.292/171.7/1:1947-60, MSS.292B/170/2-3: 1961-70 and MSS.292D/171.7/1-6: 1970-89 for the TUC files and MSS.200/B/3/2/C475 pts B, C1-C2: 1946-56 for the BEC files). Protective clothing forms the subject of a series of TUC files, which includes correspondence, minutes and memoranda of the British Safety Standards Institution (MSS.292B/147.6/7-8: 1962-70 and MSS.292D/147.65/1-4: 1970-90).

Safety First and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents:

A series of files can be found in the TUC and BEC archives relating to the Safety First Association, which became the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents in 1941. Files include correspondence, documents, reports, papers, publicity, appeals for assistance and minutes of the National Health and Safety Committee. (MSS.292/146.2/1-7b: 1928-60; MSS.292B/146.2/1-8: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/146.2/1-5: 1970-90 for the TUC files and MSS.200/B/3/2/C560/1-2: 1923-57 for the BEC files).

Safety Committees:

There is a series of files on Joint Safety Committees on which both the TUC and the BEC (later the Confederation of British Industries) were represented: MSS.292B/146.18/1-4: 1964-70 and MSS.292D/146.18/1-6: 1970-86. Files are also available for the BEC’s Safety, Health and Welfare Standing Committee, including circulars, minutes and correspondence (MSS.200/B/3/2/C1150: 1954-57).

Health and Safety in Offices and Shops:

The MRC holds the records of the National Federation of Professional Workers, which was founded in 1920. The Federation’s primary function was to act as a lobbying organisation and to provide information for its members. The records of the Federation contain a series of correspondence files on health and safety, including subjects such as ionising radiation, lighting standards, noise, and the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act (MSS.239/3/1/87-103: 1931-72).

The Avebury (Shop Hours) Papers, 1882-1973 contain the papers of the MP Sir John Lubbock relating to his campaign for the rights of shop workers, which led to the passage of the Bank Holidays Act (1871) and the Early Closing Act (1904). The archive contains parliamentary papers, notes, correspondence, material relating to the Early Closing Association, reports, agendas and minutes from other associations, publications, press cuttings and three volumes of testimonials from shop assistants.

Disability and Rehabilitation:

A series of TUC files contains documents relating to the rehabilitation of disabled people. These files include material on particular schemes and institutions, such as Roffey Park and the Queen Elizabeth’s Training College. Also included are files describing Remploy Limited, set up under the Disabled Persons (Employment) Act, 1944 (MSS.292/146.9/1-146.95/5:1935-60; MSS.292C/146.9/1-2: 1937-57; MSS.292B/146.9/1-4 and MSS.292D/146.9/1-9: 1970-90). The BEC archive contains files on accident rehabilitation (MSS.200/B/3/2/C890/6-7: 1944-56) and a file of miscellaneous papers (MSS 200/B/1/6/22: 1961-62).

TUC correspondence files, including minutes, reports and papers are also held on Disablement Advisory Committees (MSS.292B/146.93/1-2: 1963-69 and MSS.292D/146.93/1-3: 1971-90); the British Council for the Rehabilitation of the Disabled (MSS.292B/146.93/4-5: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/146.94/1-5: 1970-89) the Central Council for the Disabled (MSS.292B/146.93/6-7: 1965-70 and MSS.292D/146.941/1-2: 1971-90) and the National Advisory Council on Employment of Disabled People (MSS. 292C/146.9/3: 1953 and MSS.292D/146.931/1-5: 1971-90).

Industrial Welfare

The Industrial Society

The industrial welfare movement that emerged in the twentieth century sought to improve conditions within factories and provide facilities for employees that ranged from canteens and cloakrooms to sports clubs and libraries. The MRC holds the archives of the Industrial Society, which was founded in 1918 as the Boys’ Welfare Society by the Reverend Robert Hyde and subsequently renamed the Industrial Welfare Society (1919), the Industrial Society (1965) and the Work Foundation (2002). The Society was concerned with industrial welfare and personnel management. The collection contains a large series of subject ‘archive’ files including correspondence and papers, training course prospectuses and programmes, historical papers and ‘history box files’ including annual and other reports and various publications and pamphlets, press-cuttings and the journals Industrial Welfare, Industrial Welfare and Personnel Management and Industrial Society.

The Institute of Personnel Management

The Institute came into being in 1913 following a conference held in York where a Welfare Workers’ Association was established. Holdings of the Institute’s records comprise minutes of committees and branches, financial records, correspondence, Annual Reports, publications and the Institute’s Journal. Files include documents regarding welfare work in wartime (MSS.97/3/W: 1940-42) and miscellaneous publications on topics such as industrial welfare, the employment of married women and personnel management (MSS.97/4/5/1-43: 1925-68). A further series of miscellaneous items includes talks, reports and articles on subjects ranging from the health of the girl in industry to cloakrooms in factories, welfare supervision and the effects of the menstrual cycle (MSS.97/5/18-55: 1919-63).

TUC Files on the Welfare of Factory Workers:

The TUC conducted its own investigations into the effects of industrial welfare schemes upon trade unionism in the 1930s and two files contain correspondence with individual trade unions on the subject, publications of the Industrial Society, memoranda and reports (MSS.292C/146.9/6: 1923-32 and MSS. 292/147.7/1: 1931-46). Several TUC files of correspondence with the Industrial Society are also held (MSS.292B/147.68/4-6: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/147.8/1-4: 1970-90).

One set of files contains correspondence regarding the welfare of factory workers; including the employment of doctors; canteens; washing facilities, music while you work, compulsory rest breaks, seating facilities and a Ministry of Labour pamphlet, Fighting Fit in the Factory (MSS.292/147.6/1-3: 1940-60 and MSS.292B/147.6/1-2: 1960-70). Other TUC files include correspondence on hostels for workers (MSS.292/147.672/3: 1941-55; MSS.292B/147.68/1: 1961-64 and MSS.292D/147.68: 1972-73) and factory canteens, including the establishment of British Restaurants for workers (MSS.292/183.18/1-7: 1938-1952; MSS.292/147.672/4-5: 1940-58 and MSS.292B/147.68/2-3: 1960-69).

Rest Breaks:

BEC file MSS.200/B/3/2/C955: 1942-46 and TUC files (MSS.292/147.66/2: 1942-51 and MSS.292/147.66/4: 1943-61) contain correspondence, circulars, minutes and papers regarding the Rest Breaks National Advisory Committee, including discussion of rest breaks schemes for men and a resolution on rest periods for young persons.

Hours of Work and Holidays:

This series of TUC files charts the campaign for holidays with pay and shorter working hours, including the campaign for a forty hour and five day week, consideration of shift work, night work and overtime, and hours for women and young persons. Documents contained within the files include evidence to committees, correspondence, pamphlets and reports (MSS. 292/114/1-114.31/4:1926-62; MSS. 292/120-128: 1920-60; MSS.292B/119.91/2-128.9/4: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/120-128.9: 1970-1990).

Recreational Facilities:

A series of TUC files contain material regarding recreational clubs established for war workers during the Second World War, including correspondence about clubs for transferred war workers, for girls and for boys. The files also include replies to a TUC circular enquiring about recreational facilities and a memorandum summarising replies (MSS.292/147.66/3: 1943-45 and MSS.292/147.672/1-2: 1944-45).

International Labour Office (ILO):

Several TUC files contain material appertaining to the ILO, which was established in 1919 to formulate international standards of working conditions through conventions and regulations. There is a file which contains ILO reports on welfare facilities for workers and subsequent correspondence between the TUC and the Ministry of Labour regarding these reports (MSS.292/147.7/2: 1954-56). Further files include correspondence regarding an ILO questionnaire and subsequent report on protecting the health of employees in workplaces, and a further questionnaire and report on the organisation of occupational health services in places of employment (MSS.292/140.61/2:1951-59; MSS.292B/136/13-14: 1961-69 and MSS.292D/140.7/1-3: 1970-90).

Health Provisions and Services

The TUC archive contains information on health provisions and services to benefit workers either within or outside the workplace. The question of responsibility for such provisions and the involvement of individual unions and the TUC in providing such services or helping to manage them often feature in these files.

Factory Inspection:

The papers of Lucy Anne Evelyn Streatfield who was appointed a Factory Inspector in 1894, contain photocopies of business diaries relating to factory inspection between 1893-97.

Other TUC files contain correspondence, reports, evidence and memoranda regarding factory inspection (MSS.292/143/3-4 and MSS.292/145.1/1-9: 1924-60; MSS.292B/144.12/3-4: 1960-70; MSS.292D/145.1-145.15: 1971-85)

First Aid and Industrial Nursing:

The files MSS.292/844.9/2:1936-60 and MSS.292B/147.6/9-10: 1960-65 contains correspondence, reports and memoranda regarding first aid, including classes, regulations and industrial first aid. Several files in the TUC collection relate to industrial nurses and contain correspondence regarding training courses (MSS.292/147.62/2: 1940-60 and MSS.292B/147.6/3-4: 1960-70)

Mental Health:

One file, MSS.292/140.1/2, contains correspondence and memoranda on the subject of mental health for the period 1935-39 and the feasibility of establishing clinics and improving rehabilitation. A 1945 report by Russell Fraser, The Incidence of Neurosis Amongst Factory Workers, can be found in MSS.292C/140.2/1.

Industrial Health Education:

Files MSS.292/141.1/1-7 contain correspondence between the TUC and the Industrial Health Education Society, which was founded in 1925. The correspondence relates to health lectures for workers, fundraising and the effectiveness of the society’s work. Various pamphlets, memoranda and Annual Reports are also contained within the series.

The BEC archive also contains a series of files on industrial health societies, including correspondence with the Industrial Health Education Society, circulars and miscellanea (MSS.200/B/3/2/C693/1-5: 1926-46).

Correspondence with the Central Council for Health Education on the subject of industrial health, alongside papers, are available for consultation (MSS.292B/141.3/1: 1961-63 and MSS.292D/141.3/1-3: 1972-86).

A TUC correspondence file also exists for the Industrial Museum, which was established by the Home Office and contained an exhibition of methods to promote the health, safety and welfare of factory workers (MSS.292/146.21/1: 1928-51).

Hospitals and Convalescence:

The series of TUC files MSS.292/842/1-842.92/1 relate to hospitals and convalescent homes from 1920-1960, some of which included specialist provision for the treatment and rehabilitation of victims of industrial illnesses or accidents. The series includes general files on hospitals (MSS.292/842/1-2: 1924-59) and files on the Manor House Labour Hospital, which was run by the Industrial Orthopaedic Society, including correspondence, reports, memoranda and appeals for financial support (MSS.292/842.1/1-4: 1925-60; MSS.292B/842/2: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/842.1/1: 1970-77). Three files contain correspondence from organisations affiliated to the TUC regarding the availability of convalescent homes and giving details of some homes (MSS.292/842.2/1-2 1929-65; MSS.292B/842/3: 1961-77).

Llanelly Workers’ Medical Committee and Llanelly Medical Service:

The TUC files MSS.292/844.8/1-3: 1935-48 relate to the Llanelly Workers’ Medical Committee, which was set up following alleged dissatisfaction with the surgery in that locality. The files contain details of the settlement of the dispute with the local doctors and the continuing disputes between the general practitioners and the Llanelly Medical Service. Documents include correspondence from affiliated bodies, reports, memoranda and press-cuttings.

Amalgamated Engineering Union Survey:

One file in the National Union of Railwaymen archive contains a two part report on health and welfare at work carried out by the Amalgamated Engineering Union which summarised the results of a questionnaire filled in by members in 1,253 workplaces covering 1,300,000 workers. The report analysed workshop conditions, risk of accidents, hours of work, factory inspection, works doctors and nurses, welfare departments, ancillary health services, canteens, special facilities for women, research and information, joint production committees, works committees, health sub-committees and propaganda (MSS.127/NU/GS/3/87: 1944-46).

Proposals for an Industrial Medical Service:

File MSS.292/142/1: 1943-49 contains correspondence with trade unions and others regarding industrial medicine; including evidence to be submitted to the Royal College of Physicians, information supplied by trade unions in response to a Trades Union Congress circular enquiring about existing arrangements not covered by the Factories Act; Congress Resolutions and memoranda on an occupational health service. A further file contains circulars, memoranda and a Socialist Medical Association booklet (MSS.292C/142.5/2: 1957-59) while other files hold correspondence and memoranda on the subject of an occupational health service with trade unions, the British Medical Association and the Medical Practitioners’ Union (MSS.292/142.9/2: 1952-55; MSS.292B/142.5/3-4: 1960-70; MSS.292D/142.9/1-3: 1970-85).

In the BEC archives, files MSS.200/B/3/2/C693/A-G: 1947-53 contain correspondence, circulars, press notices and memoranda on the subject of industrial health and industrial medical services.

Local Industrial Health Services and Schemes:

One development in the post Second World War era after the exclusion of industrial health from the National Health Service was the establishment of collective industrial health schemes for groups of firms too small to establish a service individually. One TUC file contains correspondence and memoranda on the organisation of industrial health schemes (MSS. 292/142/5 1947-60). Other files exist for individual schemes and typically contain correspondence, memoranda, minutes and reports: North of England Industrial Health Advisory Service (MSS.292/142.32/1:1959-60, MSS.292B/141.3/8: 1966-67 and MSS.292D/142.32: 1970-76); Slough Industrial Health Service (MSS.292/142.32/2: 1947-48; 1957-58, MSS.292B/141.3/9-10: 1961-70 and MSS.292D/142.33: 1970-77); Harlow Industrial Health Service (MSS.292/142.32/3: 1956-60, MSS.292B/142.34/1-2 1960-70 and MSS.292D/142.34: 1971-81); Central Middlesex Industrial Health Service (MSS.292/142.32/4:1958-64); Rochdale Industrial Health Service (MSS.292B/142.34/3: 1961-63); Dundee Occupational Health Service (MSS.292B/142.34/4: 1962-63) and West Bromwich, Smethwick District Manufacturers’ Occupational Health Service Ltd (MSS.292B/142.34/5-6: 1962-66).

Joint Committees and Boards concerned with Health and Work

The MRC holds the records of several joint committees on which the TUC was represented which dealt with issues of health and work.

Relations with the British Medical Association:

The British Medical Association and TUC Joint Committee was established in 1937 in the wake of the Llanelly dispute. Records include minutes, correspondence, reports and memoranda (MSS.292/840/3-4: 1937-60; MSS.292B/840/1-5: 1960-70 and MSS.292D/840.11/1-4 1970-85). A file from the BEC includes material of the BEC’s involvement with the Joint Committee and its refusal to participate from 1950 onwards (MSS 200 B/3/2/C693/B: 1949–54).

Industrial Health Research Board (hereafter IHRB):

The IHRB was appointed by the Medical Research Council to advise and assist in work relating to occupational health. MSS.292C/141/2: 1934-43 holds minutes and circulated papers of the IHRB. MSS.292/141.2/1-2: 1939-60 contains correspondence with and regarding the above; including TUC representation, meetings, minutes, reports and reconstitution of the Board in 1948. MSS.292/141.2/2: 1940-50 contains replies from trade unions to a TUC circular enquiring about industrial health research, also submitting views on the reconstituted IHRB. One BEC file contains correspondence and memoranda from the IHRB Liaison Committee (MSS.200/B/3/2/C1054: 1949-50).

The Industrial Safety Sub-Committee:

There are TUC and BEC files for the Industrial Safety Sub-Committee of the National Joint Advisory Council, both of which contain correspondence, circulars and papers (MSS.292B/146/6-7: 1960-70 and MSS.292B/146.17/1-2: 1961-70 for the TUC files and MSS.200/B/3/2/C1156 for the BEC file). Files MSS.292D/146.18/1-6 contain papers from the Joint Safety Committee of the TUC and Confederation of British Industry for the years 1970-86.

Government Committee on the Industrial Health Services (the Dale Committee):

Files on the Dale Committee, which was appointed in 1949 to examine the use of medical manpower and possible overlap between the National Health Services and the Industrial Health Services, are held for both the BEC and the TUC. The files from the BEC archive contain minutes of evidence, reports, circulars, memoranda and correspondence (MSS.200/B/3/2/C1024/1-2: 1947-54). The TUC file contains various memoranda and correspondence about the Committee and its Report, including the subject of trade union representation, replies from trade unions to a TUC circular requesting information to be presented as evidence to the committee, and a meeting with British Medical Association Occupational Health Committee regarding the formation of an occupational health service (MSS.292/142.9/1 1949-60).

Industrial Health Advisory Committee:

The MRC holds a series of files relating to the Industrial Health Advisory Committee, which was established by the Ministry of Labour. TUC files include correspondence, Committee papers, minutes, memoranda, press cuttings, pamphlets and two reports of the IHRB (MSS.292/141.2/5: 1943-46 and MSS.292C/142.5/1: 1943-45). Two other files cover the minutes and correspondence of the Industrial Health Advisory Board from 1960-70 (MSS.292B/142.5/1-2). A BEC file is held on the subject of the Industrial Health Advisory Committee and contains memoranda and correspondence (MSS.200/B/3/2/C1024/B: 1954-57). Files containing minutes of conferences of local Advisory Councils on occupational health and industrial medicine and correspondence with the British Medical Association are also available (MSS.292/142/2-3: 1943-60; MSS.292B/141.3/3-4: 1961-70 and MSS.292D/142.1: 1971-76).

Factory and Welfare Advisory Board:

The Factory and Welfare Advisory Board was convened in 1940 when the powers of the Home Secretary under the Factory Acts were transferred to the Minister of Labour and National Service for the duration of the War. The Board discussed welfare provisions within and outside factories to preserve the health of workers, including optimum working hours. Files exist relating to this Board for both the TUC (MSS. 292/145/2: 1940-44) and the BEC (MSS 200/B/3/2/C923/1 1940–50) and include minutes, agendas, reports and press-cuttings.

Women, Work and Health


A series of TUC files contain correspondence, reports, committee minutes and memoranda regarding issues of maternity and child welfare, including birth control, the employment of women before and after childbirth, the Washington Convention and its application to maternity; a national maternity service and maternity benefits and leave. For files on maternity and child welfare, childbirth, ‘women’s problems’ and maternity leave, see MSS.292/824/1-5: 1924-69; MSS.292B/823/2: 1962-70 and MSS.292D/824.3/1-3: 1970-90. The file MSS.292B/823/3 contains material on the employment of pregnant women and maternity leave arrangements, 1963-70. A series of files from the BEC archives deal with reports on the application of conventions, including material on the employment of women before and after childbirth, and also hold documents on hours of work and night work for female employees (MSS.200/B/3/2/C687/1-9: 1923-34).

Nurseries and Child Care:

A series of TUC files contain material on nurseries for the children of women workers, dating from the Second World War. Documents include correspondence about day nurseries, TUC questionnaires and papers by the Department of Education and Science/Department of Health and Social Security on low-cost day provision for the under-fives from a conference in 1976, memoranda on individual nurseries, minutes and papers of the Working Party on Facilities for the Under Fives and the TUC Charter on Under-Fives (MSS.292/147.62/3-4:1941-57, 1976; MSS.292B/147.6/5-6: 1962-69 and MSS.292D/147.63/1-10: 1971-90). There are also two files relating to the care of children after school hours which contain correspondence and replies from trade unions to a TUC circular about provisions (MSS.292/147.632/1-2: 1956-57).

Inquiries into the Health of Women Workers:

Files MSS. 292/134.1/5-8 relate to information gathered by the TUC from trade unions between 1928 and 1942 on the health of women in industry. The documents include National Women’s Advisory Council papers, reports and correspondence and statistics. Another file contains correspondence relating to a proposed general study of anaemia among women factory workers (MSS.292/6/RM/140.9/5: 1966-67) while file MSS.292/6/RM/140.9/33:1974 holds correspondence relating to a proposed symposium on the health of women at work.

Young Women’s Christian Association:

The YWCA archive contains several series of files relating to conditions of women’s work and the provision of welfare services. The Industrial Law Committee was established in 1897, and sought to enforce industrial laws and promote reform. In 1920, the Committee was renamed the Industrial Law Bureau. Files include minute books, details of individual cases relating to wages and conditions of work and minutes of the Factories Bill Sub-Committee (MSS.243/144/1-10: 1897-1910; MSS.243/139/3-8: 1922-35; MSS.243/143/1-2: 1925-32. A further series of files details the work carried out by the YWCA in both World Wars to assist women workers, including the provision of mobile canteens (MSS.243/61/1-2: 1914-18 and MSS.243/68-70) and the Portsmouth Club for war workers (MSS.243/153: 1918) Hostels for women workers were established in both the First and Second World War. Files include minutes of the hostel, canteen and holiday committees (MSS.243/151: 1914-16; MSS.243/122: 1939-45; MSS.243/126/1-4: 1941-55 and MSS.243/103/1-2: 1944-53). The Homes for Working Girls were founded in 1878 to assist girls and young women employed in London and were renamed Homes for Business Girls in 1952. Files include Annual Reports and Finance Committee Minutes (MSS.243/91/1-8: 1878-1904; MSS.243/89/1-12: 1905-59; MSS.243/90/1-10: 1903-59).

Guide compiled by Vicky Long, Centre for the History of Medicine, University of Warwick.