The History of Royal Voluntary Service in 75 Objects

Back in 2007, very shortly after I started working for WRVS (as it was then called) I was asked to compile a timeline, to celebrate our 70th anniversary. That took me over 6 months to compile (as the collection was at that stage largely uncatalogued) but it allowed me to really begin to delve into and understand the history of what is one of the most important organisations in modern British History.

For our 75th anniversary, now armed with another 5 years of knowledge and experience as well as a much better catalogued collection, we decided to embark on the creation of a new timeline, but one with a twist. 75 items later and 11,000 words of text (before it was edited), this is what we came up with.

Inspired by the brilliant BBC History of the World in 100 Objects, we digitised 75 items from our collection which vividly illustrate and tell our story covering every decade of our history.

These range from the letter sent from Sir Samuel Hoare to Lady Reading authorising her to form the WVS on 20th May 1938, through one of our nationally Important Narrative reports, telling of the difficulties encountered in Bristol during the Blitz.

Beyond our wartime origins you can find out about our development of Meals on Wheels, residential homes for the elderly, and our work for women prisoners or read a leaflet on the need for more homes for business women on small incomes.

We have also managed to find some video and audio, so you can listed to one of our volunteers in the 1980’s describing her favourite cup of tea, or watch a wonderfully dated 1997 promotional video.

I hope you find it as fun an interesting reading it as I did creating it.

See the timeline

Posted by Matthew McMurray, Royal Voluntary Service Archivist at 00:00 Tuesday, 10 September 2013.

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