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WVS and WRVS Narrative Reports

Between 1938 and 1992 WVS/WRVS Centre Organisers were expected to write a monthly (later quarterly or bi-annual) narrative report giving details of all the activities local members had been involved in. These reports have been recognised by UNESCO as among the UK’s most important, but lesser known documentary riches and were inscribed on the UK Memory of the World Register on 14 July 2010.

Of special importance are those written during World War II giving detailed accounts of the many services the organisation provided at this pivotal time in British history. Thanks to the support of a successful Kickstarter campaign Hidden Histories of a Million Wartime Women, over 30,000 pages written between 1938 and 1942 are now being made available online for the first time.

You can access digital copies of the narrative reports through our Heritage Online searching your local area or county. Also available are the catalogue entries for all reports written between 1943 and 1965, if you would like more information about them please contact our Enquiry Service.

The reports were completed in quadruplicate with one copy kept by the centre, one sent to the county office, one to the regional office and one to headquarters, London. The copies sent to headquarters make up the majority of this collection and amount to around 450,000 reports. However, a weeding process started in 1953, but never finished, means that not all reports survive for all parts of the country. London and the east of England are worst affected with only reports that were deemed ‘interesting’ kept. Over time though, centre, county and regional office copies of these missing reports have filled gaps in the collection.

Visit Kickstarter, if you want to learn more about the project which enabled the digitisation and online publication of the 1938-1942 reports.