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Fact sheets

We've produced some useful fact sheets based on the most common enquiries to our Heritage Collection team.

Origins of WVS

A detailed account of the lead up to the formation and founding of WVS in May 1938, compiled from surviving documents in the Royal Voluntary Service Heritage Collection and The National Archives.

The story of the WVS Housewives' Service

The Housewives Service was formed in Ilford in 1938 to assist the Air Raid Wardens Service and by 1942 had nearly 240,000 members, one on almost every street in Britain.

Hidden Histories of a Million Wartime Women - Kickstarter updates

Between 1938 and 1992, members of WVS wrote monthly Narrative Reports to document their activities in the local community. Our Hidden Histories project digitised these diaries from 1938-1942.

Welfare Work in Hospitals 1938-2013

WVS hospital work from 1938 helped 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.

WVS and Evacuation 1939-1944

WVS was instrumental in the preparations, billeting and ongoing care of millions of children evacuated to the countryside during WW2. This 1973 booklet gives insight into the forgotten role of WVS.

Story of WVS Bristol 1939-1945

WVS provided canteens to feed dockers and those affected by air raids. Clothing depots, and a Housewives Service was created to help communities in Bristol during the war.

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.

Roll of Honour

The WVS Roll of Honour lists the 245 members of the WVS sadly killed during WW2 including their names, centres, occupations and how they were killed. The original is on display in Westminster Abbey.

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.

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.

WVS Uniform

A detailed and illustrated look at the development of the WVS uniform from 1939 through to 1945. Compiled using documents and surviving examples of uniform of the time from the Heritage Collection.

A history of the uniform of Royal Voluntary Service

Watch our short film about the evolution of our uniforms from 1939 right through to the modern day.

NOTE: Some of these files are large and may take some time to download.

Darby & Joan Clubs

A brief history of WVS’ work for older people from 1946 and the beginnings of WVS Darby & Joan Clubs; day clubs for older people to meet up. Compiled from records held in the Heritage Collection.

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.

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.

WRVS Court Canteens

Between 1964 and 2005 WVS/WRVS ran hundreds of canteens and tea bars in HM Courts. This fact sheet explores their origins in Derby, their rise over three decades and their decline as our aims changed.

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 and to keep in touch through reunions and events.

Narrative Reports

A brief overview of the Narrative Reports, their inception, purpose and importance.

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.