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Compassion in Crisis – A museum exhibition about 80 years of voluntary service

It may surprise you to learn that for three days last week the Archivist, Deputy Archivist and Archives Business Manager were setting up a new exhibition at Wiltshire Museum in Devizes. The Archive team have been planning this since the middle of last year writing content, selecting objects and preparing resources. Finally it is already in place ready to be seen by the public, this is a taste of what to expect from Compassion in Crisis.

 In 1938 Lady Reading started to mobilise an army of women who would be essential in winning the Second World War. By 1941 this was over 1,000,000 who were often referred to as ‘the women in green’ because of their uniform and they were known for offering tea and comfort to all who needed it in a time of crisis. At the end of the war dangers to civilians didn’t just fade away and a new threat of nuclear war was ever on people’s minds.

The exhibition looks at the emerging role of WVS inemergencies during the war and how this developed in the post-war world. Part of the exhibition explores the One-in-Five scheme which aimed to educate one in every five women on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. Women also joined the Food Flying Squads part of the Civil Defence Welfare Section. These women didn’t just have training exercises they also provided relief to those affected by floods in 1953. There were also other skills and services providedby WVS during the war which did not become obsolete in the post war era.

Dutch and Belgium refugees as well as evacuees had been helped by WVS; with the war, revolution and natural disaster in other nations fresh waves of refugees arrived in Britain in 1950s to 1980s. WVS or WRVS by the time Vietnamese, Ugandan Asian and Kosovan refugees arrived were always ready to comfort those in need and give them a safe place to stay. Compassion in Crisis looks at how WVS/WRVS showed compassion to refugees and gave them comfort intheir time of crisis. It also reflects on how voluntary service and what itmeans to be a volunteer has changed as we have moved into the twenty first century.

The Exhibition at Wiltshire Museum will run from the 7th May to 24th June, we hope you will take the opportunity to get a rare glimpse at some of the objects, uniform and records preserved by the Royal Voluntary Service Archive & Heritage Collection. If you have children we also have an exciting trail to follow round the exhibit and the chance to build a model emergency cooker. 

If you would like to know more about the history of Royal Voluntary Service or WVS in Devizes during World War II there are lectures from Matthew McMurray and David Dawson on 6th and 20th June.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 07 May 2018.

Labels: WVS, WRVS , Royal Voluntary Service, Museum, Archive, Heritage

Clothing Stores

The WVS Clothing Department was established in 1939 to run Regional Clothing Depots which provided garments, shoes and boots for children. Clothing was donated, sent from overseas by the Canadian and American Red Cross, and handmade in working parties. Volunteers would run regional and sub-depots; sorting, and distributing clothing as part of WVS’s Civil Defence role.

Clothing was also supplied to adult evacuees and the homeless from 1941 resulting in six and a half million garments being distributed between 1940 and 1943. The WVS also opened Clothing Exchanges from 1943 allowed parents to swap clothes for their growing children without using valuable coupons. As a result millions more garments were given out during 1944, 1945.

Although Depots began to close in 1946 many people still needed assistance and WVS carried on its vital role in clothing setting up County, Centre and County Borough Clothing Depots. It was also a huge part of WVS Civil Defence work providing clothing to flood victims in 1947 and 1953.

Clothing Depots were for people who had no other way of clothing themselves and they had to be recommended by certain bodies or organisations. This included the NSPCC, Ministry of Pensions, Hospital Almoners and Prohibition Officers, Doctors and Social Services.

Over the years clothing was also distributed to refugees from Hungary in 1956 and then Ugandan Asians in 1972. The demand for clothing continued to be high and by 1976 1.5 million garments were given out each year. In the late 1980s they were renamed Clothing Stores and distributed around 2 million garments a year. At that time stores could be found in Area, County, Scottish Regional, Metropolitan, District, Local and London Borough Offices.

As part of the Voices of Volunteering project 2014-2016 over 80 volunteers shared their experiences including for some clothing stores. Barbara Sparks a volunteer in Somerset was one of those volunteers.


"Then I started to work in the clothing store and thoroughly enjoyed it, absolutely
thoroughly enjoyed.
[Interviewer] Who would come into the clothing store?
[BS]: It, they were sent by Social Services, they had to have a need. And they
would be supplied with up to three changes of clothing twice a year so they
could come in the summer for summer clothes and then in the winter for their
winter stuff. And everything was logged down in a book and, if they came back
in between time and tried to swing the lead that they needed more because
they hadn't got any, the ladies would go and produce the book and say ‘Look, is
that your signature? Because on the such and such a date you were given this,
this, this, this, this and this, what have you done with it’? ‘Ah, I, well it wore out’
or well, and that was fair enough, that was fair comment. But if it was just that
they'd sold it because they thought they'd get a couple
of pennies for it, well no, they didn't get anything else. The ladies were quite strict like that, but you
needed to be. And it was quite, quite sad to see some of the people that came
in some days because one lady came in, no names obviously, but she’d, she’d
been pregnant and she's got a maternity grant and she’d blown the lot on a pink
baby dress because it was something she’d never had when she was a child,
and she just loved this dress, and she blew the entire maternity grant and then
she had a red headed boy. And poor lady, she came in and she said ‘What am I
going to do’? And they said ‘Don't worry, don't worry, we’ll sort you out’. And
they gave a complete layette, so she had everything from nappies right the way
through to vests and booties and, and, and little rompers, everything that the
baby needed for a little boy. And it was so tragic to think that she’d, she’d been
so much in need when she was a child that all she wanted was this dress for
her child. Really, really sad. And yes, I used to go in
there on a regular basis, well three times a week.
Some people you, you thought ‘Well, why did you do it’? One of my relatives
was quite high up in Social Services elsewhere and he said he loved WRVS,
absolutely loved WRVS clothing stores because their s
taff were being asked for
money and they knew it wasn't being spent on what it was being asked for
whereas they could give them a letter for our clothing store and we would make
sure that they actually got what they are supposed to need. And that they could
use it that way. He, he couldn't sing their praises high enough. So it was a much
needed facility at the time."

  You can find more oral histories and information about clothing stores by serching Archive Online.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 09 April 2018.

Labels: Clothing, Volunteering , WVS, WRVS, School Resources, Social Services

Scrapbooks the Pinterest of the twentieth Century

Or even the fifteenth century if you count the commonplace book which emerged as a way to compile information such as sketches, poems, documents, recipes, etc. sound familiar?

Pinterest is a web and mobile app, founded in 2009, to enable people to find and collect ideas on various topics. Royal Voluntary Service has its own boards including preserve and bread making and you can find and pin many posts about WVS or WRVS on the site. However this blog isn’t about our history or records on Pinterest; it’s once again time to think what did we do before the internet. How did we collect memories, images and news stories to inspire others and create a record of our own interests? We created scrapbooks of course. 

Scrapbooking is a method for preserving, presenting and arranging personal and family history in the form of a book. Typical memorabilia includes photographs, printed media, and artwork. In the twentieth century WVS/WRVS centres and services made scrapbooks to record their work in a more personal and less official way than the Narrative Report they produced monthly. Of course some of these have made their way to the Archive shelves included in local office collections or as personal donations to the collection. Like any other traditional archive item they need to be preserved but also made accessible here are some of the issues faced by archivists when caring for scrapbooks.

One of the major issues we face is how to preserve scrapbooks which have usually been created using the enemies of the archivists; glue, sellotape and paper full of acid I could go on but there isn’t enough time.  The major issue when preserving a scrapbook is its condition. When it has just arrived in your collection you look inside and some things have come loose. You have to think about how you put it back/mark where it originally belonged; perhaps some corn starch glue of a paper clip but it must be reversible. The book itself may also be fragile and you should handle it carefully proper storage can help with this acid free paper, folders and boxes can be a good start. The condition of scrapbooks may also deteriorate where it contains materials which can cause damage in the future, there are conservation treatments available however in terms of preservation we must constantly monitor the condition of our archives. We do a very good job here at Royal Voluntary Service the memories of service users and volunteers carefully preserved. Today being an archivist appears to be like standing in the middle of a seesaw and trying to balance it perfectly on one side sits preservation, on the other access.

Scrapbooks are a unique way for showing current and future generations the ideas and activities of people in the past while Pinterest boards and digital scrapbooks are easily accessible (for the moment) archived physical scrapbooks often sit on shelves and access means visiting the archive. You may ask why don’t we just catalogue and digitise these collections however there is a major issue here, copyright.

Scrapbooks are often compiled using many different sources of course the creator but then they may have used newspaper articles, publications and other documents whose copyright belongs to someone else so before they can be made publically accessible in a digital format we’d need to gain permission from several different people. Here many of our scrapbooks contents will still be in copyright because are collection is a very modern one (in terms of history). This isn’t the only barrier there is also the question of how this would be hosted and maintained as some digital formats become obsolete but of course were archivists I’m sure we could find a solution. Perhaps a national project called save our scrapbooks (inspired by save our sounds of course) a campaign to preserve these unique insights into history and make them more accessible.

Obviously all traditional archives have similar issues which we have to apply expertise to. As archivists we preserve scrapbooks in our collection and find ways to allow the public access to them. However In the twenty-first century we must also ask how we do this and do we need to start focusing digital equivalents such as Pinterest or even people’s own artwork on their home computers? But this is a blog for another day.

Posted by jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 05 February 2018.

Labels: Scrapbook, Pinterest, WVS, WRVS, Preservation, Access

Waste Food for Pigs, Ayr Scotland

During the war the Scottish section of the WVS tended to maintain a more independent status from the rest of the organisation. This is evident within our collection of Narrative Reports; the National Headquarters series has no records from 1942 to 1960, we hope they survived somewhere in Scotland. For many years WVS/WRVS had a Scotland Headquarters in Edinburgh which did not send Narrative Reports to London till after the establishment of the Archive in 1958. Fortunately, we still have other sources mentioning the activities of WVS Scotland and the Narrative Reports which made it to London HQ between 1939 and 1941 draw attention to the wide array of activities performed by Scottish volunteers in the early years of the war, one such report recorded the decisions of a local meeting held in January 1941 in the town of Ayr; it provides an excellent example of WVS Salvage work.



The Waste Food for Pigs campaign was created as part of the Government’s National Salvage Scheme to help maintain a constant supply of feed for the nation’s livestock. In order to accomplish this, kitchen waste was boiled and concentrated at special plants, thus resulting in what is commonly known as pig swill. Working in tandem with the local authorities, the WVS helped organise this scheme to ensure that salvage became an integral component of wartime society.

To help address this issue, the above meeting was facilitated by Mr J.B, Crookes, the National Controller of Salvage for Scotland and also by Mr Strain of the local Cleansing Department and Regional Salvage Advisor for the West of Scotland. Their attendance to this meeting also demonstrated its significance, because it is quite possible that their solutions for tackling ‘pig swill’, may have filtered down to other WVS centres.Such as members of East Barnet, Hertfordshire featured in the two photographs in this week's blog. The meeting in Ayr laid out the schemes structure.

After a series of discussions, they concluded that the Burgh of Ayr would be divided into districts for the collection of pig feed. To ensure there were enough collection points, a bin would be placed on each street for every ten or twelve households. One member from the WVS Housewives’ Service would be responsible for each bin. The members were keen to implement this system swiftly, so shiny new bins were distributed to five locations around the town to then be placed on an appropriate street corner.

a) Allotment Schemes.

b) Fruit Shops, Multiple Stores, Canteens.

c) Tenement Properties.

d) Villas, Bungalows, Mansion Houses.

e) Hotels, Boarding Houses.

Royal Burgh of Ayr Centre Report January 1941

Due to the fact that this is the last year of reports we hold for the Burgh of Ayr until 1961, it is very difficult to ascertain whether or not the solutions proposed in this meeting were a resounding success. Although you might wish to scour the Scotland reports featured in the WVS Bulletin during the war. Nevertheless, the centre organiser for Ayr was more than complimentary about how the meeting was received.

WVS later WRVS Scotland acted as both Region 11 and in some ways a separate organisation with its own Headquarters up until 1980s/1990s.  However, it is evident from the earliest records that their commitment to Lady Reading’s vision of voluntary service was and is at the same level as the rest of Great Britain. Especially true when it came to the establishment National (UK wide) schemes such as salvage and the collection of waste food in the burghs.





Posted by Jacob Bullus, Archives Assitant (Digitisation) at 09:00 Monday, 27 November 2017.

Labels: Ayr, Scotland , WVS, WRVS, Salvage, Pig

Archives and exploring peoples motives



This week the Heritage Bulletin Blog comes to you in the form of our second podcast. As it’s Explore Your Archive Week we thought we would treat you to a clip from one of our oral histories. We're exploring the ideas behind why people volunteer and Mary Gibbons a volunteer in South Wales told the project why girls taking part in volunteering for Duke of Edinburgh got involved and the impact that had.

Hopefully you will then be inspired to visit Archive Online and explore the Voices of Volunteering collection for yourself. Clips and resources based on oral histories are also available on the Voices of Volunteering School Resources page.




For those who can't listen to the podcast, which I whole heartedly recommend, the transcript is below.

The Duke of Edinburgh Award. There was a school in, in Swansea, a girl’s school, and one of the Masters at the girl’s school had always been interested in Duke of Edinburgh Award, and he persuaded the Head Mistress there to let him use some of his pupils for Duke of Edinburgh. Now he was using girls who were challenged. They seldom went to school, they had got very little home support, they really were not bright. And he had said to them would they like to do this, you see, because in Duke of Edinburgh you have to do a certain amount of service. And so the service was our service, helping out at WRVS Luncheon Clubs for the elderly, which the girls thought was wonderful. So he sort of said to us ‘Will you do the rest of it’? Because they obviously had to know all about WRVS and they had to do a certain amount of, of work with it, so we had said ‘Yes’, and the girls were good. But the girl, he said to the girls ‘You only go to the Luncheon Club if you go to school’.

Now truancy was the thing.  So in fact, for the year that we were doing it there, or for the two years, they went to school every day because they wanted to go to the Luncheon Club. And we used to go and we would do lessons with them, but we knew that they couldn't really take things down because possibly they couldn't write, they couldn't read and it was just very unfortunate for them. But we, even when it came to the test or, or sort of making sure they'd got it all, we had an oral rather than a written. Now for other schools we would do written things whereas with them it was… And we didn't do the testing at the end, but other people did, and that was quite amazing because they all got through.

And I can see it now, we had the Head Mistress was there the last, they, they had to have the certificates given to them and the badges. And they had got, he had organised a very special coffee morning. All the girls had been in the day before to help make cakes and things. And their parents had been invited. And it, she had sort of introduced the girls, and how superb they had been, and the WRVS had been doing this and that, and then I had to say something about them because I was Emergency Services, I had to say something about what we’d done with them. And then, you know, sort of say, we had given them their things and praise and everything else.

And afterwards I was going round talking to the parents who were there. And I can remember going up to this dad and his daughter was there as proud as punch, and I said to him ‘Well, what did you think’? He said ‘Oh’, he said ‘how I didn't cry’, he said, ‘I had to take time off work because I never ever thought she would get anything’. And I thought that was lovely. He’d, he was so chuffed that she’d got something, you know. you know. Out of all of this, so different, so different. So it did do very well, and actually he [the Duke of Edinburgh] came to Swansea on one occasion and we were there, there were two of us, somebody, Julie, another girl, and the two of us were there with some of our, with some of us, the school girls. And, and he had talked to them, which was, he thought, they thought was wonderful. But, no, that was good.  

Mary Gibbons Volunteer

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 20 November 2017.

Labels: oral history, Voices of Volunteering, WRVS, volunteers, Luncheon Club, podcast

Tea & Co at Addenbrooke’s

On 23 August the Tea & Co. Café at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridgeshire was officially opened. It is one of a range of developments in the charity’s Healthier Choices retail transformation programme which also includes Shop & Co. The Café is run by a staff and volunteer team in Cambridgeshire. This week we thought it might be interesting to look at the history of Addenbrooke’s and Royal Voluntary Service.

The first canteen was established in 1950 in “a passage between the out-patients' department and the hospital itself. There was room for only two people behind the counter and a row of customers in front, with a constant stream of stretchers, chairs and nurses passing behind”(WVS Bulletin January 1954, page 5). It quickly expanded as a new canteen with work space was opened; in the 1950s 80,000 people were served annually.

Canteen helpers were needed weekly to prepare food, defrost refrigerators, keep statistics and accounts, serve customers and wash up. In 1960 Cambridge City held a meeting of WVS Hospital Helpers to celebrate their ten years' service in the Out-Patients' Canteen at Addenbrooke's Hospital. “This very modern and up-to-date canteen was equipped from the profits” gifts from further profits given to the hospital in the 1960s included a television set for the Children's Ward, 160 trays, one carrying chair, and two geriatric chairs (WVS Bulletin May 1960). In the 1960s Addenbrooke’s opened a new hospital which meant the opening of a new canteen for WRVS in the late 1960s.

By the 1970s WRVS ran two canteens one in the old and one in the new hospital; they funded a house for the relatives of patients who lived a long way from the Hospital. When the old hospital closed a second canteen was opened to cope with increased demand. The new canteen opened in 1972, at the time WRVS also provided trolley shops, a patient helpers’ service, reception duties and flower arranging. The Narrative Reports which we talk about so often recorded the story of voluntary Service until the early 1990s in Cambridge. Reports mentioned Addenbrooke’s had canteens in Radio Therapy and Out Patients. They also started to serve new lines including toasted sandwiches. In the early 90s the Hospital Organiser continued to provide the service to the hospital as well as a trolley shop.

Unfortunately the archive does not hold many records of the charity’s activities in the 1990s however we do know that volunteers from Addenbrooke's went to London to assist Cilla Black with the launch of the “Give us a hand campaign” in 1998. It was designed to encourage people to volunteer with WRVS. The campaign embraced the power of celebrity, asking famous people to pledge their support by sending in an autographed outline of their hands. Over a hundred celebrities took part, including Imogen Stubbs, Stephen Fry, Sir Ian McKellen, Robbie Coltrane, Sean Bean and David Suchet. The campaign also saw ordinary people make colour paper cut-outs of their own hands at the WRVS stand at the Ideal Health Show, then hang them on a cardboard tree. The WRVS continued to run services at Addenbrooke’s into the 2000s when changes began to take hold.

The early 2000s saw a few changes to WRVS’ role at Addenbroke’s. A new Coffee Shop was opened in 2003 which was rebranded after the rebranding of Women’s Royal Voluntary Service to WRVS (Green and red to purple and orange) in 2004. In 2013 the charity was renamed Royal Voluntary Service and more recently plans for hospital shops, canteens and tea bars were updated to provide healthy options in hospitals and to bring back the red and green branding. Addenbrooke’s is now one of Royal Voluntary Service Tea & Co. cafés and the volunteers and staff will continue this partnership steeped in history.

If you would like to learn more about Royal Voluntary Services history with hospitals then read our fact sheet Welfare work in hospitals 1938 – 2013.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 09 October 2017.

Labels: Tea and Co, Royal Voluntary Service, WRVS, WVS, Cambridge, Addenbrooke's

My Archive Journey - Part Two

Learning to structure a catalogue for an accession at the Royal Voluntary Service

In my last blog I wrote about my first experience of the accession process, for the Royal Voluntary Service Archives & Heritage Collection, as I unpacked the extensive records of the Ebley Silver Threads over 60s Club, that had been collated by Mary Curtis the leader of the Gloucestershire Club from 1966 to 2008. In this month’s blog however I turn my attention to my first encounter of structuring and cataloguing, which began after the receipt of a signed gift agreement from the collection custodian to transfer the documents to the archive.

The first step was to design a suitable structure, so that the collection could be incorporated into the searchable archive, based on the initial review of the contents. It would have been a daunting task were it not for the helpful beginners guide to hierarchical archive structures, included in volume 6 of the WRVS Heritage Bulletin, and the comprehensively mapped out catalogue structure helpfully pinned to the archive storeroom wall. In the course of reviewing the documents it had become apparent that despite the inclusion of the personal records of Mary Curtis, detailing her association with the WRVS over 46 years, it should be classified as the records of a local office as it covered the activities of the Stroud and Gloucestershire group over an extensive period.

This meant that the collection Fonds (WRVS) and Sub Fonds (LO) levels of the catalogue structure were quickly in place, and the Series based on the location of the activity could be determined. As Ebley is situated in the Stroud region of Gloucestershire the question was therefore only whether the village was in the rural or urban area. Surprisingly however, this was not a straightforward answer as it appeared to be referenced both ways, but ultimately it was decided that it was most often classified as being in the Stroud Urban District and so the Series abbreviation was settled upon (STD UD). An abbreviation of Ebley Silver Threads over 60s Club could then be slotted easily into the Sub Series (E-ST) level.

Thereafter, the catalogue structure only needed to be developed into Files, Sub Files and if appropriate Items. To aid this construction process a large sheet of paper was found and an outline of what the collection should look like was mapped out from the notes taken during the preliminary review.

As the bulk of the collection was made up of the photographic records of the week long Club holidays around the United Kingdom, which many members of the Club participated in between 1970 and 2007, this became the first File (HOL) with the individual locations as Sub-Files. This meant that the Sub File abbreviations could adopt an existing structure used elsewhere in the archive. Other Files were also incorporated for the Club Activities (ACTV) which were not associated with the holidays, such as Easter Bonnet making or the more frequent activities such as Christmas parties and day trips. For Member linked activity (MEMB) such as gatherings for birthdays, weddings, anniversaries and departures another File was added.

As a WRVS Local Office there were also circular notices (CN) and regional publications (PUB) to include (which would have a wider relevance within the archive) as well as the Club records such as meeting minutes (MIN), general administration (ADMIN), finance (FIN), publicity (PBY). All of these were references which had been created previously in other catalogued projects and consequently the utilisation of them for this collection helped maintain consistency across the catalogue.

Finally there also needed to be space to incorporate the personal records of Mary Curtis (CURM). This File included Sub-Files for all the letters and correspondence (CORR), newspaper cuttings (NEWS), ideas and reminders (NOTES) she accumulated in her role as Club Leader, as well as the recognition (AWARD) she received over the course of her work with the older citizens of Ebley from 1962 to 2008, as a dedicated member of the WRVS.

Once the structure was complete the processing could begin with items carefully gathered together and referenced in accordance with the entry into the archive catalogue (CALM). Throughout this process the original order of the collection was maintained in the physical files. Whilst the majority of the documents received were incorporated into the catalogue, with only those not connected to the WRVS Club or which were available in other archives excluded, only a selection of the photographs from each of the holidays were included. No restrictions were placed on how many photographs could be included in the final catalogued collection but images were selected based on content or if annotations had been added. Overall the selected photographs for cataloguing were those which it was felt could visually record, describe and place the activities of the Club.

I have now finished processing this accession (phew!) and the catalogue records will be online next time we update the Archive Online pages. Until then I will be applying my new skills to the Aylesbury Local Office Collection!

Posted by Elaine Titcombe, Volunteer at 11:00 Monday, 11 September 2017.

Labels: Catalogue, WRVS, Darby and Joan, Stroud, Gloucestershire, Archive

"The Effect of a Cup of Tea is magical"

This week we bring you another Heritage Bulletin Vlog, the script can be seen below.

Hello and welcome back to another Heritage Bulletin Vlog  we’ve been very busy over the last few months with lots of exciting projects like the launch of our Narrative reports on our online archive.

In 1950 a report called WVS Work in Hospitals, said that “the effect of a cup of tea is magical” and looking at the many objects which represent tea and its importance to the organisation is like looking down a rabbit hole, you never know what you might find. Here in front of me are just a couple of examples of the mugs and tea pots we have produced over the years.

Providing tea and food during World War II was a main feature of WVS work so I thought I’d share a tea related story with you this week called Caravan Canteen.

“A hospital train pulled into the siding. Stretcher-bearers clambered out. They set their stretchers down and the casualties came to life and converged upon us. We were surrounded. “Coffee? Tea? Soup?”

The soup came out of the tap in a reddish gush into the white mug. An aged man conspicuously labelled fractured femur sniffed at it with the sagacity of an ancient foxhound. “Tomato soup”, I improvised. “Or would you rather have tea?” fractured Femur nodded. I drew off a mugful from the other urn. It swirled into the mug with a deep and greenish look, as if from the dark backward and abysm of time.

“WVS colours, huh?” said a voice in the crowd”. But they drank up, and after the first urn was emptied the tea came out a better colour."

That’s all we have time for but you can read the full story by clicking on the link below.

WVS Bulletin March 1940 page 7

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 21 August 2017.

Labels: WVS, WRVS, Royal Voluntary Service, Tea, Canteen, World War II

My Archive Journey Part One

Learning to deal with an accession at the Royal Voluntary Service

Following my initial introduction to the wide array of resources held by the Royal Voluntary Service Archive & Heritage Collection, and the subsequent publication of my first Heritage Bulletin blog at the beginning of February 2017, my primary experience of an accession to the archive came in the form of a collection accumulated by the leader of the ‘Ebley Silver Threads over 60's Club’, Mrs Mary Curtis. This submission to the archive followed directly on from an interview for the ‘Voices of Volunteering’ project conducted by the Deputy Archivist, Jennifer Hunt, with Mary late in 2015.

The collection, which had been maintained by Mary between 1962 and 2008, first in her capacity as a member of WVS and subsequently as the club leader after 1966, had arrived at the archive in January 2016 following an enquiry from the custodian of the documents. It came in a hefty and bulging briefcase, along with two large and very full cardboard boxes. My first task was consequently to unpack the collection, whilst maintaining the original order, so that a preliminary assessment of the contents could be made.

Initially it had been thought that the collection was comprised mainly of the photographs and the personal records and mementoes of Mary in her association with the WRVS (now Royal Voluntary Service) and the Ebley Silver Threads club, but during this review it soon became apparent that rather than a personal collection, it would be better categorised as the records of a local office. The Ebley Silver Threads over 60's Club’ had been formed in 1966 by Mary and a few other members of the WRVS upon their recognition that no social group existed for the older members of their local community in the urban region of Stroud, Gloucestershire. Whilst identified as a local club by its members, it was nevertheless part of the wide range of older persons’ welfare work conducted by the organisation, belonging to the service originally known nationwide as the ‘Darby and Joan Clubs’.

As a consequence included amongst the documents were several WVS Circular Notices such as, "Model Rules for the Constitution of a Local Darby and Joan Club run by WVS", “"WVS Darby and Joan Clubs, Notes for the Guidance of Leaders" and “WVS Insurance in Darby and Joan Clubs”. In addition there were blank ‘Older People's Club’ membership cards which recorded subscription payments, and a WRVS newssheet on “Meals on Wheels and Lunch Clubs”.

At the club level there was a minute book of Committee Meetings and the Annual General Meetings between 1971 and 2008, extracts from the financial records and statements, in addition to copies of the letters and correspondence sent and received by Mary in her role as club leader. Whilst the bulk of the collection related to the holidays and activities organised for the club members, and was made up in particular of the photographs taken of the group, there were also records of the recognition paid and awards given to Mary by the WRVS and her local community for her work and commitment to the older citizens in Ebley and the surrounding area.

Overall there was no doubt that this collection fitted with the collection policy of the archive and that it would be a valuable addition. As a consequence a gift agreement was therefore sought from the custodian to allow work to proceed to incorporate it into the archive.

Look out for my next blog in September when I will describe my next stage of the journey: learning to catalogue the collection.

Posted by Elaine Titcombe, Archive & Heritage Collection Volunteer at 09:00 Monday, 07 August 2017.

Labels: Accession, WVS, WRVS, Gloucestershire, Stroud, Darby & Joan

Game Set Match

After the excitement and perhaps in some cases disappointment of the results of the Wimbledon finals over the weekend I thought you would be interested in reading about WVS/WRVS’s involvement with Wimbledon. A past blog three years ago talked about volunteers running the information desks during the competition in July. This service was in return for the use of the courts for a tournament run in September originally organised by the WVS Club.

On 4th June 1947 the Queen Mother opened the WVS Club at 41 Cadogan Square London/. The club was open to members and ex-members who could apply to join for an annual subscription of £2 2s 2d with a £3 3s 0d entrance fee. It was to be a central meeting place for all members and organised the WVS Tennis Tournament from September 1948 till it closed in 1955.

First held in 1948 the Tennis Tournament was held in September at Wimbledon on the first day WVS supported an American Tournament and on the second day members were invited to play in a ladies doubles competition. In November the following report was printed in the WVS Bulletin:

Although the WVS closed the Tennis continued into the 1980s and possibly 1990s though the last mention in the Archives is the WRVS Association Newsletter No.18 May 1983.

Posted by Jennifer Hunt, Deputy Archivist at 09:00 Monday, 17 July 2017.

Labels: Tennis, WVS, WRVS, Club, Wimbledon