Never Standing Still

Today we have a blog post written by one of our volunteers, Rod Cooper.


Ever wondered about the activities of The Children’s Society and how these have evolved? I have been lucky enough to research a remarkable period in The Children’s Society’s history, and one that reflects significant changes in our society in general.

Annual review for The Children's Society, dated 1977/8, and a magazine sent to supporters of the charity, dated 1975, showing the change in emphasis in The Children's Society's work

Some time ago I was asked to help out with clarifying information in The Children’s Society Archive’s database, and to record the activities of The Children’s Society’s homes from the mid-1960s through to the latter part of the last century.

All very interesting I thought, and shouldn’t be too difficult. Just a few weeks work. But then just how wrong can you be?

Two years on, and after much scouring of The Children’s Society’s annual reports and supporters’ magazines (such as Gateway magazine and Children in Focus magazine), the consequence is a significantly more extensive than anticipated spreadsheet that records the year-by-year activities of The Children’s Society’s various homes and projects. In due course this will be compared against information already stored on the Archive’s database, and any amendments and revisions thus recorded.

Due to constraints in the availability of data, the greater part of the information relates to a period from the late-1960s through to the mid-1990s; the periods either side often lacking information of comparable depth and breadth. But this caveat aside, the period for which I have sourced data has – and I freely admit perhaps more by accident than design – resulted in a time-line charting broad-scale changes in The Children’s Society’s activities over a thirty year period. Changes that reflect significant shifts in the social, cultural and economic fabric of our society as a whole.

During the early part of this project, and as each snippet of information stood in relative isolation, there appeared to be little rhyme or reason behind The Children’s Society’s activities. However, it wasn’t long before developing themes and evolving strategies came much into focus.

Over the thirty year period, for example, I’ve traced declining activities such as the rapid closure of nurseries in the 1960s and the related fall in the number of infants for adoption (put rather succinctly in one article as a consequence of three things: more “unsupported” mothers wishing to keep their babies; the impact of the contraceptive pill; and changes in the abortion law). There was a significant change too in the number of children’s homes. More and more of these were either closed or transferred into local authority management whilst The Children’s Society chose to extend its focus towards the family unit and, more specifically, to help maintain family life and keep families together. Hence the rise of the Family Centre in the 1980s. The focus too shifted away from younger children to “young people” in their teenage years. In the face of rising unemployment and social stresses in the 1980s and beyond, this meant involvement in employment and training projects, hostels for homeless young people and provision of legal assistance. All a far cry from The Children’s Society’s activities of just few short years before, when the emphasis had been on nurseries and homes for younger children.

And this is just a taste of it. There is much more. But that can wait for another time. What started out as a relatively straightforward piece of house-keeping to help sort out a database has taken on a life of its own, and thrown up some revealing and fascinating insights into your organisation’s activities over the years.

St. Nicholas’ Orthopaedic Hospital, Body Braces and Little’s Disease

Today we have a guest post written by a member of our project team, Clare McMurtrie.


Girls at St. Nicholas’ Hospital and Special School, Pyrford, Surrey. Three are in wheelchairs. [1915]

As a volunteer indexing some of the 30,000 case files at The Children’s Society (previously known as the Waifs and Strays Society) and focusing on medical histories referring to children who were admitted into convalescent homes, what seems most prescient is their place in history. Travelling in an archivists’ TARDIS through the case files we discover allusions to mystery diseases and children who suffered lifelong debilitating disability, many of which were unrecognised or untreatable at the time.

One of these conditions is cerebral palsy (CP), or spastic diplegia as it was commonly referred to. Historically known as Little’s Disease, spastic diplegia is a form of CP, a chronic condition seen in a high and constant muscle tightness or stiffness, usually affecting the legs, hips and pelvis. Dr William John Little named the condition in the mid-1800s. His first recorded encounter with CP is reported to have been with children who displayed signs of spastic diplegia; this condition is by far the most common type of CP, occurring in around 70% of cases. Little’s personal childhood experience of mumps, measles, whooping cough, polio and clubfoot (all conditions seen in The Children’s Society’s case files) led him to establish pioneering treatments for the condition. Some of these early treatments included the use of a wheelchair or crutches to aid movement, as well as full body braces!

Girls at St. Nicholas’ Orthopaedic Hospital and Special School, Pyrford, Surrey; with a kid goat third from the right [c1910s]

Group photo of a teacher and ten girls, one of whom is in a wheelchair and another is using a crutch; St Nicholas’ Orthopaedic Hospital and School, Pyrford, Surrey [1917]

The Children’s Society has six recorded cases of cerebral palsy, five of whom were received into St Nicholas’ Home, West Byfleet, Surrey or to St Nicholas’ Home when it later moved to Pyrford in Surrey. St Nicholas’ home originally opened in Tooting in London in 1887, the year of Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee, after founder Edward Rudolf saw a need for medical centres catering to the countries poorest children. The home moved to West Byfleet in 1893 and then to Pyrford in 1908, with the home in Pyrford also operating as a hospital. In many cases the cost and time needed to care for children with CP meant that children who otherwise would stay with their parents were taken into The Children’s Society’s care.

Cases resulting from poverty include Vera, whose parents also had a small baby and elderly parent to care for, and Mabel, whose father was regularly out of work and then fought France during the First World War. In other cases the loss of income of one parent, through death or absence, caused children with CP to be admitted to St Nicholas’. These include Dorothy, whose father had left, and George, Lora and Phyllis, whose fathers died, leaving families unable to keep them. In a time when men were typically the main money-earners in a household, The Society acted as a short term buffer in many of these cases, offering food and a home for the children, rather than medical treatment. In all cases the children were returned to their family after as little as a year with The Children’s Society. In the case of Mabel, received into St Nicholas’ in 1910, medical treatment was given at the revolutionary Great Ormond Street Hospital, twice (in 1912 and 1913), where she had an operation to straighten one of her feet. Great Ormond Street Hospital opened its doors in Bloomsbury in 1852, as The Hospital for Sick Children, and remains one of the world’s leading children’s hospitals.

The outside of the building of St. Nicholas’ Home, Pyrford, Surrey, c1910s

Overall the case files that refer to children with cerebral palsy reveal more of the lives of the children than of the treatments and conditions that they endured. We are left to fill in the gaps in early-20th century medical knowledge!

Find out more:

Learn more about cerebral palsy:

Discover the more about some of the conditions and treatments mentioned in the case files:

Learn about the history of Great Ormond Street Hospital:

Find out why a set of instruments in the Science Museum’s collection is important to the history of cerebral palsy:

Neglect, Ambition, Bad Fortune, and the Early Years of Blood Transfusion

Today we have a guest post written by one of our project volunteers, Ella St John-McAlister.


Reading Alfred’s case file left me with the impression that he had been a bright and ambitious boy. He came into the care of The Children’s Society (then known as The Waifs and Strays Society) in 1916. Unlike the subjects of most case files I come across (I am researching children’s illnesses and their medical history) he was a healthy boy. This was in spite of Alfred’s father having passed away when Alfred was five years old and his mother being jailed twice for neglecting her children – although the nature and extent of her “immoral life” is unclear.

We know little about Alfred’s life before he entered The Children’s Society except that he had six brothers and sisters, one of whom was the illegitimate child of a “sergeant who was called to France and killed”. It was for neglecting this child that Alfred’s mother was first jailed in 1916. We also know that all of Alfred’s brothers and sisters were in the workhouse: a desperate, destitute sanctuary for those who were unable to support themselves. Something of Alfred’s character comes across in the application form submitted to The Children’s Society, where it states that Alfred played truant despite being “quick and sharp”.

Alfred was admitted into The Children’s Society’s care at the age of eight in 1916, and at the age of 14 he applied for an apprenticeship on a Navy training ship called the Arethusa, indicating a desire to travel and a willingness to “obey his [the Commander’s] and [his successors’] lawful commands”.

Alfred’s acceptance letter from the Arethusa Navy Training ship, 1922 (case number 20702)

The fact that he was allowed to join the ship indicates that he must have been at a certain level of health because there were strict requirements on the height and health of those who joined:

Age: 13½-15   Height: At least 4ft. 8 in. (without boots.)
Age: Over 15   Height: At least 4ft. 10½in. (ditto.)

Once on board a typical daily menu aboard the Arethusa might have looked something like this:

  • 1lb soft bread
  • 8oz biscuit
  • 7oz fresh meat
  • 8oz potatoes
  • 3/4oz cocoa
  • 1/8oz tea
  • 2/3oz sugar

A pretty meagre and dour menu by today’s standards. After he joined the Arethusa Alfred vanishes from view. Sadly, it is a letter from Alfred’s mother reporting his death in 1926 at the age 18 that enables us to piece together an idea of his last years.

A letter from Alfred’s mother informing The Children’s Society of his death, 1926 (case number 20702)

A letter from Alfred’s mother informing The Children’s Society of his death, 1926 (case number 20702)

Dear Sir,

I feel I must write to tell you the sad news of
my poor boy, Albert [middle initial, surname], he went out to America 2 ½
yrs. ago. I was Expecting him home last Easter, I received
news a fortnight ago to-day to say he met with an accident
on Jan 11th and died Jan 19th it is a terrible shock to me,
I shall never, never get over it, he had an operation and
transfusion of blood, but they could not save him.

When the snow was about, he was in a sled coasting
down a steep hill, when the sled struck a stick, causing it
to swerve into the gutter seriously injuring him, they took
him to St. Vincent’s Hospital, West New Brighton, he was
provided with a private room and two trained nurses, at the
expence [sic] of the New York Telephone Coy. [Company] where he had been
employed only two months, previous to that, he
served 12 months in the U.S Army, so ten of his soldier
friends acted as ball [sic] bearers and firing squad over his
grave, he put his age on 3 years, by letters I have had his
friends were surprised at his correct age, he was a fine
fellow. The British Society and his firm gave him a good
burial, plenty of flowers, in fact, he was far better
treated than he would have been in England, I hope you don’t
mind me writing, but I felt I must.

I don’t know what I shall do without him, he
was always a man in his ways, I would not mind so much if
I could have seen him the last of him, or if I only I could see
his grave.

I hope this will find Matron quite well,

I am,

Yours Truly,

(Sgd. [Signed]) Alice [middle initial, surname]

It is a sad ending to what looked as if it could have been a very promising future, but this letter also holds some fascinating information. The reference to a blood transfusion is the first instance we have found of this procedure in The Children’s Society’s case files. The technology behind the procedure for extracting, storing, and transfusing blood was still developing at the time Alfred received his transfusion.

The first recorded, successful attempts at blood transfusions happened in the 1600s, although these experiments used animals. Even in the late 1800s blood transfusions were shunned by medical professionals and considered extremely risky. In fact, in Britain in the early 20th century, surgery textbooks referred to blood transfusions as a quaint relic of medical history. If only they had known! However, just as the idea of blood transfusions was being cast aside, the discovery of different blood types was made. The medical and surgical needs brought on by World War I also acted as a catalyst for the idea of blood transfusions gaining respectability within the medical field.

Click here for more information about blood transfusions (including an interesting image) from The Science Museum.

What makes Alfred’s story so exciting is that in 1926 when he received his blood transfusion, the first hospital blood bank in the United States had not even been established. Whilst blood was donated voluntarily in Britain from the early 1920s onwards, donors were being paid up to $100 for a pint of blood in the U.S., meaning Alfred’s procedure could have been quite a costly one.

Although Alfred’s case file is fairly slender, it contains useful information on what it was like to be a child at that time and a child under The Children’s Society’s care, and also on an important medical advance, one many of us might take for granted today.

Becoming an Archivist

Have you ever thought you’d like to work in archives? You could be just about to enter the world of work or thinking about a career change; could archives be the career for you?

A few weeks ago, as part of The Children’s Society Archive’s Unexplored Riches in Medical History project, I gave a talk to students at Kingston University, describing what it’s like to be an archivist and how you can get into the profession. Here’s a summary of what I told them:

Why work in archives?
This is a question that only you can answer for yourself! But if you need some suggestions, here are a few of mine:

Firstly, a lot of archivists really like working with archival documents; I know I do. There’s nothing quite like holding a piece of history in your hands and thinking about who created it and what it meant to them. Like the letter below:

Letter from Edward to his mother, 1911 (case number 12589)

Letter from Edward to his mother, 1911 (case number 12589)

November 12th 1911.

Dear Mother,

I hope you are
still well & happy. I have
not heard from Jack yet
but when I have I will
let you know. If I come
home it will cost 3s 1d
but I shall have to out

how long I can stay. I
shall be glad when I can
come home. Could you send
me some stamps. My stamp-
-album is nearly full. I
have a page of United States,
Austria, France & Germany.
We all had a magic-
lantern last night and

I enjoyed it very much.
I shall be glad when
I can live in London again.
As Jack come home from
Canada yet, or, is (his) he
coming at all. Give my love
to Kate & Harriett. I should
like to see you and Kate
again soon & also Gladys.
I hope Stanley still likes

living in Surrey. I think
I must close now.

I remain your loving
Son Edward xxxx.

It’s hard to read this letter without feeling some kind of connection to 13-year old Edward, with his drawing and stamp-collecting and hopes for his family. Read the rest of Edward’s story here.

Every archival document, just like this one, is unique and has its own story to tell. As an archivist, you’ll find yourself discovering those stories and learning all the time.

You may also want to become an archivist to work with people and to help people. Archives exist to look after documents so that people can read and use them, so a large part of your job as an archivist will be helping people to access documents and to understand them. If you think that being an archivist involves interacting only with documents and not with people, you’ll have to think again.

But archivists don’t just look after documents for people in the present; they also act as custodians to protect documents so that people in the future will be able to read them too (perhaps even hundreds of years into the future!) In this way archivists are really important: what we do not only affects how we understand ourselves today, it affects how people of the future will understand us as well.

What do archivists do?
The main things that archivists do can be grouped into three categories:

  • Providing access to collections
  • Preserving documents
  • Developing collections

Providing access to collections can come in many shapes and sizes. You could be working in a reading room, directly helping researchers to find documents, read them and understand the context they were created in. Or you could be answering questions that come in through emails and on the phone. Then there are other ways of providing access: running activities for school groups, for example, creating exhibitions, or writing web pages and blogs (hmm, that last one sounds familiar somehow).

Not to mention, it’s impossible to provide access to your documents if you don’t know what you have in the first place. Cataloguing your collections to create a database or list of all the documents you look after is really important; as an archivist, you’ll be rather stuck without a catalogue.

And then there’s preserving documents. As I’ve already mentioned, archival documents aren’t just important to us today, they’re important for future generations too; so archivists try their hardest to keep their documents in good condition and readable.

There are all sorts of tasks involved in preservation. You could be packaging documents into archival-quality boxes and folders, you could be checking that you don’t have any book lice or other pests in your archive store, or you could be checking that the temperature and humidity levels in your archive store are good for the documents. (For any of you wondering, unstable environmental conditions can really do a lot of damage to archives, especially if the conditions are unstable for a number of years.)

Digital records, being those created on computers, are a completely different kettle of fish. Anyone who’s tried, unsuccessfully, to open an old file from a floppy disk will know just how difficult and frustrating accessing old digital records can be. Considering that floppy disks were all the rage only 15 years ago, you can see just how proactive archivists need to be to make sure that their digital records remain accessible and readable for years to come.

As for developing collections, this is all about collecting more material for your archive and making sure you’re documenting the things that are happening today. All archives will have a collecting policy, which will help them to decide what types of documents they should add to their collections.

You can’t collect everything, though, or you’d be overwhelmed. One of an archivist’s most important jobs is to decide what things to keep for the future and what things to leave behind. It’s not an easy decision, because it will directly affect how the people of the future understand and learn from their past. I told you archivists were important!

How to become an archivist?
To be an archivist, you need to have a recognised postgraduate qualification. There aren’t too many universities in the UK that offer this qualification, so competition to get on the course can be high.

For anyone looking to get on an archive course, you’ll need to have some experience in an archive first. This experience can be paid (there are a number of jobs out there that are specifically for this purpose) or it could be voluntary. Want to volunteer at an archive? Just get in touch! Many archives take on volunteers, so if you know of an archive that you’d like to volunteer at, one of the best ways is to just ask.

And for anyone wondering: no, you don’t have to have a background in history to become an archivist. My own undergraduate degree was in biochemistry!

A girl who has completed her training and is ready, with her uniform, to go out to work in domestic service, 1910

Where to find out more?
Firstly, you might want to take a look at the hand-out that I made for the talk at Kingston University: Careers in Archives hand-out

The hand-out contains a list of links to places that will give you more information, but two of the most comprehensive guides are:
The Archives and Records Association

If you have any more questions, we’d be happy to answer; just leave a comment below, or email:

Funding for research available

Did you know that the Wellcome Trust gives out research bursaries of £5,000 to £25,000 to fund research into collections, like The Children’s Society Archive, that have received Wellcome Trust funding previously?

Click here to find out more about the Wellcome Trust’s research bursaries.

Our Wellcome Trust-funded Unexplored Riches in Medical History project here at The Children’s Society will be coming to an end in the next few months, and we’ve done so much since we started. We have catalogued and conserved thousands of records that can be used to study medical history. Soon our catalogue will be online for you to search and see what we have for yourself.

And this is where you come in. At the moment our medical history records are an untapped resource, crying out for research. We didn’t call these records ‘Unexplored Riches’ for nothing; they now need to be explored further! A quick browse through this blog will show you just some of fascinating things that you could find in the collection, but that really is just the tip of the iceberg.

Children receiving fresh air treatment in the outdoor ward of St Nicholas' Home, Pyrford, Surrey, early 20th Century

Thanks to the Wellcome Trust’s research bursaries, you can give your research the financial help you need. The bursaries will fund academic research using collections like ours, and it doesn’t have to be historically grounded research either. If you’re not an academic, the bursaries will also fund work in the creative arts, whether you’re an artist, writer, performer or broadcaster wanting to use our collection.

So what medical history sources do we have? Check out these links:

Our records can be used to research many things, but some of our strengths include:

  • Children’s health
  • Victorian and Edwardian healthcare
  • Diseases of poverty
  • Contagious diseases
  • Orthopaedic conditions
  • Historic medical treatments
  • Charities and pre-NHS healthcare
  • Sanitation
  • Vaccination
  • Diet and nutrition

Will you be at the forefront of discovering what our medical history records have to offer? See the Wellcome Trust’s website for more details on how to apply for a research bursary.

If you have questions about the bursaries or about using our collections for research, please email us at:

Our Changing Brand

Today we have another guest post written by one of our Archivists, Richard Wilson.


The Children’s Society was founded in 1881 and has a long history of innovating and adapting to improve the lives of children and young people. Just as the organisation has changed, so too has our branding. Here we’ll take a look at how The Children’s Society has presented itself over the last 130 years.

We started our work by establishing a single residential care home in Dulwich, South London for children living on the streets. The organisation was initially known as the Church of England Central Home for Waifs and Strays, but this soon changed to the Church of England Central Society for Providing Homes for Waifs and Strays as additional homes opened (the word ‘Central’ was changed to ‘Incorporated’ in 1893). Despite this rather long title, we were commonly known as the Waifs and Strays Society or often just the ‘Waifs and Strays’. The composite below shows branding from 1888, 1903 and the 1930s.

The Children's Society's branding from 1888, 1903 and the 1930s

The middle part of the composite is taken from a letterhead and includes a lozenge shaped drawing on the left-hand side depicting Jesus with three young children. The drawing was frequently used by the Waifs and Strays Society in the early twentieth century and reflects the organisation’s Christian ethos. A complete form of the picture served as the cover image for our supporter magazine, Our Waifs and Strays, and is reproduced below. You will note that the drawing includes biblical quotes about the care of children, which are taken from Exodus 2:9 and Luke 18:16-17.

The Waifs and Strays Society's logo from the early 20th Century

In 1946 the Waifs and Strays Society changed its name to the Church of England Children’s Society. This is still our official name today, although we started to use our abbreviated title, The Children’s Society, for most purposes in the 1980s.

The name ‘Waifs and Strays Society’ enjoyed widespread recognition and fondness amongst many supporters. It had, however, become archaic by the 1940s and no longer represented the variety of children and young people with whom we worked. There were also concerns that the name could stigmatise those in our care.

The composite below comprises letterheads from shortly before and after the name change.

Branding from the 1940s showing the change in name from the Waifs and Strays Society to The Children's Society

The Children’s Society used a sunflower as its logo between the mid-1950s and the early 1970s. The flower had already been used as a logo in connection with street collections and ‘Sunflower Days’ since before World War II and, in 1956, the Sunflower Guild was established for supporters who kept one of our collection boxes at home for regular giving. The composite below shows two letterheads bearing the sunflower logo. The top design was replaced with the lower one in around 1963.

The Children's Society's branding from the 1950s to the 1960s

In the late 1960s we considered changing the name of the organisation, developing a new corporate slogan, or both. Suggested names included ‘Care’, ‘Child Savers’ and ‘Aid Britain’s Children’ (ABC). Whilst we decided not to change our name, we did use ‘Aid Britain’s Children’ as a slogan for a couple of years (top left image in the composite below).

We adopted a new logo in the early 1970s showing an adult holding hands with three young children (lower image in the composite). A similar logo was used in connection with our Centenary celebrations in 1981 together with the slogan ‘Children First’ (top right image in the composite).

The Children's Society's branding from 1969 to 1981

Shortly after our Centenary celebrations we adopted new, simpler branding without a logo (top image in the composite below). This remained in use until 1988 when a colourful new logo was introduced depicting three children with the strapline ‘Making Lives Worth Living’ (middle images in the composite). The new logo was part of a wider rebrand which sought to focus on the positive difference that the organisation made to the lives of children and young people rather than the negative circumstances that caused them to seek our support.

A further rebrand took place in 1998, when our previous logo depicting a person reaching for the stars was adopted. The original version of the logo had 13 stars (bottom left image in the composite), which could be interpreted as a representation of Jesus (the larger gold star) and the 12 Apostles, underlining our connection with the Church of England. The 13 stars also had historical symbolism, depicting 13 penny stamps – the first donation that our founder Edward Rudolf received over 130 years ago. Bottom right in the composite is the last version of the ‘reaching for the stars’ logo, which was introduced in 2010 and used until 2014 when our current branding was launched.

The Children's Society's branding from the 1980s to 2014

The Golden Needle League

Happy New Year! We start 2015 off with a guest post written by one of our Archivists, Richard Wilson.


Around the time of The Children’s Society’s Golden Jubilee in 1931 we founded a needlework club for supporters willing to make at least one garment a year for the children in our residential care homes. The club was called the Golden Needle League (GNL) and local branches around the country were formed for volunteers to meet together on a regular basis to sew and knit children’s clothing. Once finished the clothing was donated to a specific local home or sent to our head office in London for distribution according to need. The idea behind the GNL was to reduce our ‘formidable’ annual clothing bill and source high-quality, individual clothing for the children in our care.

The GNL was a great success and by 1943 had over 8,000 members. It continued to operate until 1971 when it changed its name to the Children’s Gift Scheme. The GNL was not a completely new initiative for The Children’s Society. A similar club, the Silver Thimble League, had been operating in the Liverpool area since 1897, and our supporters’ magazine had already been urging readers to make and donate clothing for several years when the GNL was founded.

In 1968 a branch of the GNL was established in the village of Toton near Nottingham by Mrs Eileen Hall. As well as making clothes for children at several of our residential care homes in Central England and a family centre in Nottingham, the branch organised garden parties and other fundraising events for The Children’s Society.

Every member of the GNL was issued with a membership card containing a golden needle (not made out of real gold!), and the front of Mrs Hall’s card is reproduced below (left) next to an earlier promotional leaflet from the 1940s. Underneath these items is a picture of Mrs Hall at a fundraising event in 1979 with several knitted garments made by the Toton Golden Needle League.

Mrs Hall's Golden Needle League membership card (left) and a 1940s promotional leaflet for the Golden Needle League (right)

Photo of Mrs Hall with garments made by the Golden Needle League, 1979

Mrs Hall corresponded regularly with the homes and family centre supported by her group to ascertain what garments they required and obtain measurements for the children and young people. When the clothes were finished, she would often deliver them to the homes in person and meet the residents and staff. Below is a letter that Mrs Hall received from our Woodhouse Eaves home in 1983 thanking her for a donation of clothing and providing details of jumpers and cardigans required by the home. (Click the image for a larger version.)

Letter of thanks to Mrs Hall from the Woodhouse Eaves home, 1983

The Toton branch of the GNL continued to operate until 1993 (several years after the League had been discontinued at a national level) when it changed its name to the Toton Support Group for The Children’s Society. Mrs Hall ran the group until 2013 when she retired after an incredible 45 years of service. During this time she kept a meticulous account of the group’s activities in a series of 39 scrapbooks, which contain a wide range of material, including letters, photographs, publicity material, personal accounts of events and visits and financial records. Mrs Hall is pictured below holding the first scrapbook, which she started in 1968.

Photo of Mrs Hall with her first scrapbook

Mrs Hall has kindly donated her scrapbooks to our archive where they will be retained alongside our administrative and childcare records to help document an important part of The Children’s Society’s history – the work of our local volunteers and supporters.

If, like Mrs Hall, you hold the records of a local Golden Needle League, fundraising or supporters’ group and would like to donate them to our archive we would be delighted to hear from you. You can reach the archive sending an email to

Merry Christmas from The Children’s Society Archive

Cover of The Children's Society's Gateway magazine, Autumn 1979, showing a girl with a Christingle

Christmas is just under a week away, and here at The Children’s Society Archive we’ve been busy thinking about the history of Christingle. The first Christingle service for The Children’s Society took place 46 years ago in 1968. Since then, Christingle services have grown in popularity and are now a familiar sight every December.

See our latest blog post for more information about the history of Christingle at The Children’s Society.

Want to take part and help support our work with vulnerable children living in poverty? Click here to find your local Christingle service.

Merry Christmas to you all! We’ll be back with more posts in the New Year.

Unexplored Riches in Medical History – in action!

I’ve got something exciting to share with you today. The Unexplored Riches in Medical History project has now been captured on film!

In a short video that has been produced by the Wellcome Trust, Ian Wakeling, the head of The Children’s Society Archive, gives a really great introduction to the Unexplored Riches in Medical History project.

Have a watch and see us all in action! And, more importantly, see some of the wonderful archive documents that we’re working on.

Come hear a talk about our medical history project on 8 December 2014 in London

Here’s a reminder that I will be giving a talk about our Unexplored Riches in Medical History project next Monday, 8 December.

I’ll be discussing how far we’ve come in this project and I’ll also be looking at some of the fascinating medical history trends that we’ve discovered as we’ve gone along. For example: how was The Children’s Society affected by the flu pandemic of 1918? And just what was so unusual about chicken pox?

Please come along to find out more! The talk will be held at Senate House in London on Monday 8 December, starting at 5:30pm. Attendance is free.

Click here for more details.

Children undergoing hydrotherapy treatment at St Nicholas' and St Martin's Orthopaedic Hospital and Special School, Pyrford, Surrey, c1930s

I look forward to seeing you there!