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About the archive

The archive comprises records created and managed by The Children's Society (known as The Waifs and Strays Society from 1881 to 1946). In 2011 the archive was added to the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in recognition of its national importance in documenting the history of childcare from the Victorian era to the current time.

At the centre of the archive is a series of around 140,000 case files for individual children assisted by the organisation. These are a unique resource for research into the history of childcare and a source of information on a range topics, including behavioural and mental health issues, poverty related disease, nutrition, the mental and physical development of children, changes in government policy relating to childcare and pre-Welfare State philanthropic and medical responses to poverty, disease and disability.

In addition to case files we hold organisational records relating to management, administration, finance, fundraising, public relations, supporters, residential care homes, social work projects, property management and staff. The archive also includes a large quantity of photographs and publicity material, some audio-visual material and a complete set of supporter magazines going back to 1882.

Please see our Hidden Lives Revealed website for further information about the archive and a selection of digitised material.

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