We've produced some useful fact sheets based on the most common enquiries to our Heritage Collection team. Can't find what you're looking for? Tell us what fact sheets you'd find useful.
Origins of WVS
A detailed account of what happened in the months which led up to the formation and founding of WVS in May 1938, compiled from surviving documents in both the Royal Voluntary Service Heritage Collection and The National Archives.
Download Origins of WVS
WVS Housewives Service
A history of the WVS Housewives Service from its origins in Ilford in 1938 up to mid 1942 written by Mrs Atkinson, Head of Personnel and Training at WVS in 1942. The Housewives Service was formed to assist the Air Raid Wardens Service and by 1942 had nearly 240,000 members, one on almost every street in Britain.
Download WVS Housewives Service
Hidden Histories of a Million Wartime Women - Kickstarter updates
Between 1938 and 1992, members of the WVS wrote monthly Narrative Reports to document their activities in the local community.
As part of our Hidden Histories of a Million Wartime Women project to digitise the first few years of these diaries (1938-1942), you can now follow their journey through this compilation of weekly blogs.
Welfare Work in Hospitals 1938-2013
WVS began working in hospitals in 1938 to assist with preparations for war, staff shortages in non-medical jobs, emergencies and recruiting people to fulfil specific jobs such as ward maids or ambulance drivers.
Download Welfare Work in Hospitals 1938-2013
WVS and Evacuation 1939-1944
The WVS was instrumental in the preparations, billeting and ongoing care of millions of children evacuated from cities and high risk areas to the countryside during the Second World War. This booklet written in1973 by the women who helped organise the evacuation gives a fascinating insight into the forgotten role of the WVS.
Story of WVS Bristol 1939-1945
WVS provided an essential service to communities in Bristol during the war; they set up static and mobile canteens to feed the dockers and those affected by air raids that hit the city. Clothing depots and 'make do and mend parties' provided clothing for evacuees and a Housewives Service was created which helped with all aspects of war, such as salvage and blood transfusions.
Download Story of WVS Bristol 1939-1945
Salvage on the Home Front
Between 1940 and 1945, the WVS helped assist the National Wartime Salvage Scheme. Thousands of members devoted considerable time and effort to ensure that salvage became a daily activity.
Download Salvage on the Home Front
Roll of Honour
The WVS Roll of Honour lists the 245 members of the WVS from Great Britain and Northern Ireland sadly killed during the Second World War. It includes their names, WVS centres, WVS occupations and how they were killed. The original is on display in Westminster Abbey.
Download Roll of Honour
History of the Roll of Honour
Information sent to the press after the unveiling and dedication of the Roll of Honour in 1951 by HM Queen Elizabeth.
Download History of the Roll of Honour
Origins of Meals on Wheels
A detailed account of the starting of the first Meals on Wheels service in Welwyn Garden City in 1943, using records from the Heritage Collection and reports in the Welwyn Times.
Download Origins of Meals on Wheels
A detailed and illustrated look at the development of the WVS uniform from its inception in 1939 through to 1945. Compiled using documents and surviving examples of uniform of the time from the Heritage Collection.
Download WVS Uniform
A history of the uniform of Royal Voluntary Service
Darby and Joan Clubs
A brief history of the concerted start of WVS’ work for older people in 1946 and the beginnings of the WVS Darby and Joan Clubs; day clubs where older people could go for a friendly chat and a cup of tea and perhaps a quiet game of cards or half an hour with the wireless. Compiled from records held in the Heritage Collection.
Download Darby and Joan Clubs
Ten Years' Work 1938-1948
A copy of ‘Ten Years' Work’ published in 1948 by WVS detailing thematically, by activity, the work of the service over the previous ten years.
Download Ten Years' Work 1938-1948
One in Five
A history of the WVS and WRVS One in Five (1955-1985) which demonstrated how to cope during the event of a nuclear war.
Download One in Five
WRVS Court Canteens
Between 1964 and 2005 WVS/WRVS ran hundreds of canteens and tea bars in HM Courts up and down the country. This fact sheet explores their humble origins in Derby, their rise over three decades and their end in the new millennium as the nature of our work began to change.
Download WRVS Court Canteens
History of the WVS/WRVS Association
The WVS/WRVS Association was set up following the death of WVS founder, Lady Reading, to encourage local groups of members to meet through reunions and events. Members would reunite "not only to remember the past, but to keep in touch with old friends and with those who were carrying on the ideals of our founder against the background of an ever-changing society with varying needs."
Download History of the WVS/WRVS Association
A brief overview of the Narrative Reports, their inception, purpose and importance.
Download Narrative Reports
Books on WVS and WRVS
Bibliography of printed sources for information about WVS and WRVS from all periods of our history, with brief descriptions of their subjects.
Download Books on WVS and WRVS
NOTE: Some of these files are large and may take some time to download.