The National Archives and the Pilgrim Trust launched Archives Revealed last month, a new programme of grant funding for organisations including charities to scope archiving projects and create new collections. So I thought I’d share some charity histories that I’ve found over the past few weeks.
Charity histories are important because they tell our stories in their own right, but they also tell our stories as part of the fabric of society – how do we fit into the grand narrative of the welfare state? How have we changed as society has changed? How do we respond to crises and opportunities in the communities we serve?
Our stories also tell us something about how we see ourselves. Some make use of extensive archives. Others present a particular face or image. They are written for a purpose; researchers should be alive to whether some bits are emphasised or downplayed, and how they exist in a wider context – the narrative of our collective sector.
We need more stories – big and small, national and local, from all types of organisations. There are all kinds of records in the back of filing cabinets, in people’s attics or buried in hard drives, waiting for someone with the time or motivation to go through them all. Archives, national or local, might be interested in your records (and researchers like me always are), or you might want to tell your own story. Charlotte Clements, Georgina Brewis and the Charity Finance Group have produced some great resources that can help you to both think about cataloguing and archiving, and to improve your record keeping overall – find them at Voluntary Sector Archives. The new funding from Archives Revealed could be the perfect opportunity to get started, if you’ve got the right project.
In the meantime, I’ve been searching out (mostly late 20th century) charity histories for a project, so I thought I’d share them here. I’ll keep updating the list as I find more, and do send me yours if I’ve missed it!
|Action Aid||Action Aid has a brief history on its website; it was founded in 1972 by businessman Cecil Jackson-Cole.|
|Addaction||Addaction was set up in 1967 after Mollie Craven, who was caring for her son, wrote to the Guardian calling for people with lived experience to come together. The Guardian has the original letter, linked to here.|
|Carers UK||Carers UK was founded as the National Council for the Single Woman and Her Dependents by Rev. Mary Webster in 1965.|
|Charity Finance Group||CFG started in 1987 – here’s a timeline of its history and achievements.|
|Child Poverty Action Group||CPAG has published a report by Pat Thane and Ruth Davidson about their 50 year history. They also have a timeline on their website, including images of archival material.|
|Crisis||Crisis was started by Bill Shearman, a Conservative activist, who used his political connections to gain cross-party support for the campaign. The Crisis website has a full timeline of its history.|
|FPA||The Family Planning Association (full disclosure – I’m a trustee) was set up in 1930. The website includes their history in two parts, and the organisation’s archives are in the Wellcome Trust.|
|Friends of the Earth||Their first campaign involved dumping thousands of empties at Schweppes HQ. FoE’s website includes a 45 year timeline of the UK organisation.|
|Friends of the Earth Birmingham||This local branch is running a project documenting its 40 year history, tweeting stories and archival material.|
|Greenpeace||Greenpeace’s history includes the history of the global movement as well as the UK campaign, started in 1977.|
|Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants||JCWI was founded in 1967. Its 2016-17 annual report includes a celebration of its 50 year history.|
|Motor Neurone Disease Association||Set up in 1979 by a group of people with lived experience of the disease. This PDF provides a brief history.|
|NACRO||Crime and social justice charity NACRO celebrated its 50th birthday in 2016. Its website includes a timeline of its history.|
|Oxfam||Oxfam has a timeline of its history since its beginnings in 1942.|
|Parkinson’s UK||Parkinson’s UK was founded as the Parkinson’s Disease Society in 1969. It has a timeline of its history and research progress on its website.|
|Rethink||Founded in 1970 as the National Schizophrenia Fellowship, Rethink’s website includes the original letter to the Times from John Pringle, who was living with the condition.|
|Runnymede Trust||Runnymede Trust has an oral history project documenting its history in the context of the struggle for race equality between 1968-1988 (nb some links are broken)|
|Shelter||Shelter, formed in 1965, has a dedicated mini-site celebrating its 50th birthday.|
|Stonewall||Stonewall was set up in 1989 – there’s a history of the organisation and its place in the fight for LGBT equality.|
|Toynbee Hall||Toynbee Hall was the original Settlement in the UK, established by Canon Samuel Barnett in 1884. Eleanor Sier (@trulynella) also shares archive finds on twitter.|
|Victim Support||The first Victim Support scheme was set up in Bristol in 1974. The website provides a brief timeline.|
|Women’s Aid||Established as the National Women’s Aid Federation in 1974. The website includes a timeline of its history.|
|Royal Voluntary Service||RVS has an extensive archives project. It also tweets material at @RVSarchives.|
|Muslim Aid||Muslim Aid was founded in 1985 by community leaders from 17 Islamic organisations in response to the humanitarian crisis in Africa. The website includes a brief overview of the organisation’s history.|
|Big Issue Foundation||The Big Issue Foundation was founded by Gordon Roddick and John Bird in 1991, in response to concerns about increasing levels of rough sleeping. The website states: ‘The two believed that the key to solving the problem of homelessness lay in helping people to help themselves.’|
|Leonard Cheshire||The disability charity was founded in 1948. Its mini-site, ‘Rewind’, features over 600 digitised items from its archive, focussing in particular on the history of its early ‘Cheshire Homes’.|
|Disabled Living||This Manchester-based Charity was formed in 1897 as the Band of Kindness and Children’s Help Society, to encourage children to be kind to animals and in turn their fellow citizens. It evolved into a charity supported disabled children,
and now provides information, advice and support around aids, appliances and equipment for disabled people of all ages.