New British Academy Project Highlighting the Importance of Charity Archives

As part of our ongoing work with the archives of the Refugee Council Archive here at the University of East London, we are aware of the importance of archives to charitable organisations, leading to our involvement with the Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives. It was therefore of great interest to read the recent NCVO blog posting by Georgina Brewis, (Institute of Education), discussing a recently funded British Academy Project entitled, “Digitising the Mixed Economy of Welfare”, which has the aim of digitising a selection of charity based records which will aim to tell the story of the voluntary’ sectors engagement with the provision of welfare assistance during the 1940’s.

As defined on the British Academy website, the aim of this project is too:

“This collaborative, interdisciplinary project will digitise and make available key documents that will enhance understanding of the role of voluntary organisations in our mixed economy of welfare. Restructuring of welfare provision in the 1940s led to intense debate about the future of the voluntary social services. By identifying and digitising core documents arising out of this debate, the project will create a unique public resource of benefit to social science, practitioner and policy maker audiences that will facilitate critical reflection on major post-war social policy changes. If such change were happening today these documents would be readily available on the web. “ (Reference:

Within the blog posting, entitled, “Eight reasons charities should be interested in their archives”, Dr. Brewis focused on the importance of archives and heritage to charitable organisations and highlights eight factors which charitable organisations should consider in relation to the archives. These include the importance of charitable and voluntary sector archives for helping to demonstrate the long term impact of an organisation whilst highlighting the organisation’s commitment to a particular issue, group or community over time. Charitable archives can also be seem to have an impact in informing the organisations ongoing work whilst placing in context the work of the organisation undertaken in the past. Archives of charities and voluntary organisations can also be utilised to highlight the importance of the voluntary sector in general to a wider audience, and as Dr. Brewis argues,

“The archives of UK voluntary organisations are of great significance for social, political and cultural history; they can enhance knowledge and understanding of British society and relations with the wider world.” Reference: G. Brewis, Eight reasons charities should be interested in their archives.

Full details of the project can be found by accessing the links below:

Blog Posting by Dr. Georgina Brewis – Eight reasons charities should be interested in their archives.

British Academy Website, Project Details – Digitising the Mixed Economy of Welfare.

NCVO Blog – NCVO reminds charities of the importance of historical archives.

Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives.

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