Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)SCF
TitleSave the Children Fund Archive
Extentc 2400 boxes
Date[? 5th Century AD]-2019
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DescriptionThe archive of the Save the Children Fund, known as Save the Children or SCF, covers the whole spectrum of the charity's work, both in the UK and overseas, in terms of child welfare, education and health, children's rights, and wider humanitarian relief; its work with other international and voluntary aid agencies and its relations with governments; and its involvement in social and political debates, such as the raising of the school leaving age. The collection contains material documenting high level decision making within the Fund, including an incomplete sequence of minutes and papers for the meeting of the Council, Executive and Departmental Committees. Other high level decision making and corporate administration papers include a large series of Director General's papers, principally of Sir Colin Thornley (1965-1974) and of John A. Cumber (1976-1984), but also from other Director General's; Directors' and Department Heads meeting papers; governance, strategy and policy papers; and material regarding finance, staff and Human Resources.

The collection dates from the foundation of the charity in 1919 to 2019, although the majority of the archive dates from the 1960s-1990s. The collection also includes some material pre-dating this, principally either collected items, personal papers, or papers relating to associated organisations immediately prior to the foundation of Save the Children. This includes some coins from the 5th century, some family papers from 1791, and other papers principally dating from the 1890s.

A discreet sequence of material, the Eglantyne Jebb papers, relates to the early history of the Fund in the 1920s, in particular to SCF's support of projects in countries throughout Europe. The SCF archive collection only contains a small amount of material from the 1920s-1930s, most of which can be found in this section. Material also exists regarding SCF's relationships with other international Save the Children Fund organisations and Save the Children Alliance, and external organisations, including other charities and international organisations.

The largest part of the collection covers SCF's Overseas Programmes and the work of the Overseas Department and its various incarnations. The majority of the material has been organised by the individual countries with which Save the Children Fund had projects and programmes in. The material contains correspondence, reports, publications, minutes, building plans and some photographs which document the administration, and at times the day-to-day running, of SCF's overseas programmes. Various types of projects were undertaken by SCF overseas covering humanitarian relief, education, health, child rights and the environment with large sections of material documenting SCF's work in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Iraq, Sudan and Vietnam.

In addition, there is a large series of records concerning SCF’s UK programmes, covering projects in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, comprising reports, correspondence, papers, publications, and promotional material. These records illustrate, for example, the pioneering work of the Fund at home and its role in 'filling the gap in the Welfare State' in its provision of nursery schools, the establishment of playgroups and children's clubs, and in the running of various residential schools. More recent programmes and projects are also reflected in these records, including community and family centres, work with travellers’ families, support for prisoners’ children, refugee programmes, work with young offenders, and other youth programmes.

The archive includes a section of material concerning SCF’s fundraising and publicity work, which provides evidence of its innovative approaches to the use of the media, its role as a pressure group, and its various fundraising ventures. This includes high profile campaigns, such as the ‘pennies-a-week’ appeal and the Stop Polio campaign, as well as corporate and celebrity fundraising partnerships. This section of material also includes papers concerning various education initiatives, papers concerning various SCF youth groups, and some papers concerning the work of UK branches and shops.

The collection contains a series for SCF's publications which includes important sequences of SCF's annual reports and official magazine 'The World's Children' providing updates and articles regarding all of SCF's work. Additional magazines, newsletters and journals, including 'Today's Children' and 'Save the Children Fund Pictorial' provide additional viewpoints. Additional publications, include memoirs and autobiographies, topical publications, book series, publications relating to Eglantyne Jebb, manuals and working papers, and leaflets and posters.

There is a substantial photograph collection, including both photographic prints (mostly black and white) and transparencies (largely colour), which reflect all aspects of the Fund's work since its inception. The majority of SCF's major UK and overseas projects are represented in these images and they are a valuable resource which, in some cases, such as the SCF's work in Armenia and Albania, are not found elsewhere. The photographs also document SCF's fundraising and public engagement activities.

There are smaller series of audio and film recordings, comprising reel-to-reel recordings, vinyl records, cassette tapes, CDs, and various video tape formats. These include recordings showing the work of SCF programmes, publicity material and advertisements, media coverage and interviews, conferences and meetings, and some oral histories. These series also include educational resources and records made for fundraising purposes, including charity records.

In addition to some personal papers of Eglantyne Jebb, which can be found amongst her papers as SCF secretary, the archive also includes other personal collections which relate to both the work of the SCF and its fieldworkers, and to its founders. These include, among others: the papers of Mary Katherine Hawkins (1911-2001), an SCF worker, who worked in Lebanon, Jordan, South Korea, Hungary, Algeria, Oman, and Dubai; Edward Fuller (b 1889), author and editor of ‘The World’s Children' magazine; papers of Dorothy Kempe Gardiner (1873-1957), author and college friend of Eglantyne Jebb; letters of Suzanne Ferriere (fl 1920s), fellow relief worker; papers of Edward Turner Clively (fl 1920s) an SCF worker in Russia; Mosa Anderson (1891-1978), SCF workers and member of the SCF Council; Dorothy Frances Buxton (1881-1963), co-founder of SCF, political campaigner and author; and Margaret Hill (nee Keynes) (1885-1970), social worker and friend of Eglantyne Jebb.

A small series of objects includes items made by, collected by, or gifted to SCF, including commemorative items and promotional and fundraising items, many of which use variations of Save the Children's logo.
ArrangementThe archive has been arranged and catalogued through a functional approach due to the difficulties of assigning all material in the collection to a department and the changing functions of these departments. Nevertheless some material has still been organised by department at a lower level and often the functional approach has correlated to individual departments.. This process took place during a cataloguing project between 2019-2021. Previously the SCF archivist sorted and listed the archive as it was in 1995 and the structure of the catalogue had reflected that general arrangement.

Previously there are four original sequences of boxes: boxes numbered A1-A1766 (with some gaps, see physical description field); boxes numbered 1-147 containing the SCF's collection of photographic prints and transparencies up to about 1997 (PP and PT sequences); and two series of boxes comprising photographic prints and transparencies generally post-1997-2003.
Access ConditionsSome files may be partially or fully closed due to Data Protection issues after having been screened by Archivists. A closure date and access conditions statement will accompany any file which has been affected in this way. Some areas of the collection are completely closed because they have not been screened for any Data Protection issues by Cadbury Research Library staff. If material you wish to see has not been screened you may request Cadbury Research Library to review the files by providing 28 working days notice. Please be aware that the files may still remain closed after they have been reviewed.

Material created within the last 25 years
SCF operates a 25-year policy on opening up its archive. This means that any material which was created less than 25 years ago is not open for research. If you have any queries about records created within the last 25 years, please contact us at

Material of any date already in the public domain, such as publications and posters, is open for all to access.

We would like to make users aware that there are photographs in the collection which may be considered by some to be upsetting, including depictions of children in distress and dead bodies. Please be aware that you may come across these upsetting images throughout the collection.

Please be aware that there are files in the collection which contain names, words, comments and personal opinions which may be found offensive, racist and derogatory.
Finding AidsA short resource guide has been created by the SCF Archive Project Team which provides an overview of the collection and arrangement, a short history of SCF, and details of other available resources. This guide can be found attached to the Fonds level.
DocumentSCF Resource Guide.pdf
SCF Material available on Microfilm final version.pdf
Access StatusPartially closed
Physical DescriptionThe numbers of the boxes from the main sequence which have not yet been deposited are as follows: A214; A296; A397; A410; A416; A451; A502; A503; A647; A648; A675; A688; A884; A953; A1112; A1148; A1159; A1160; A1184; A1538; A1549; A1550; A1551; A1558; A1643; A1685; A1714; A1715; A1721; A1744-A1754. Boxes from the photographic sequence which are missing are as follows: 75-79, 90, 93-94, 97.
Creator NameSave the Children Fund
Administrative HistorySave the Children Fund (SCF) was founded in England on 15 April 1919 by the sociologist, Eglantyne Jebb, and her sister, Dorothy Buxton.

Jebb also founded a corresponding international organisation at Geneva, the Save the Children Central (later International) Union, on 6 January 1920. (This was founded in co-operation with the International Red Cross Committee and the Swiss organisation, European Relief. In 1948 the International Union merged with the International Association for Child Welfare (founded in Brussels in 1920) to form the International Union for Child Welfare.)

SCF initially grew out of the work of the Fight the Famine Council, but the SCF as a separate organisation was set up at a public meeting held in the Royal Albert Hall to 'provide relief to children suffering the effects of war' particularly in Austria. It was incorporated in 1921. SCF's work extended rapidly elsewhere in Europe and beyond during the 1920s and 1930s in response to the plight of children caused by international emergencies such as famine, war and other conflicts, earthquakes, floods, epidemics and other disasters. In the later 1940s, SCF worked with refugees in Europe following the end of the Second World War, in Korea in the 1950s, and then extended its work into Africa, Asia and the Middle East from the 1960s.

Welfare work in the UK was developed alongside overseas work during the depression of the 1930s and it mounted campaigns for school meals for children in need in the 1930s, it established nurseries and introduced children's clubs in air raid shelters during the Second World War; and created a network of playgroups which was instituted in 1945.

The rights of children has been a key focus of the SCF from its earliest days: in 1923, Jebb drafted a 'Declaration of the Rights of the Child' which was adopted by the League of Nations in 1924; and a revised version was agreed in 1959 by the UN Assembly as a set of non-binding principles which was adopted by the UN Assembly in 1989 as the 'Convention on the Rights of the Child'.

Save the Children UK is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and is one of nearly 30 such national organisations.

The administrative history of SCF has evolved over its history, with changes in responsibilities and in names of department and section.
In October 1963, the structure of Save the Children Headquarters was as follows:
Secretariat - dealing with all matters handled by the director general, deputy director general, general secretary, co-ordination secretary, and assistant general secretary.
Finance department - all aspects of finance and accounts, investment and insurance.
Fundraising - appeals, penny-a-week, United Kingdom organisation (branches), London committee (London branches and special events), commonwealth and foreign (overseas commitees), Christmas cards.
Overseas Relief and Welfare department - administration of all overseas work (other than fundraising).
Commonwealth and Foreign department - liaison with commonwealth and other non-British staff.
Home Welfare department - playgroups, clubs, and residential homes, as well as Northern Ireland and Scottish work.
Custodial HistoryPrior the their transfer to the Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections, the material was in the custody of Save The Children in London. (Lists of some documents were forwarded for inclusion on the A2A website before the transfer, and the change of location for the material has not yet been noted on the A2A website - now subsumed into TNA's 'Discovery' database.)
AcquisitionDeposited by SCF, May 2011
Archival NoteThe collection was primarily catalogued between 2019-2021 as part of a cataloguing project funded by the Wellcome Trust and Save the Children Fund. The project was led by Matthew Goodwin and Holly Waughman, Project Archivists, Catherine Martin, Archive Assistant, and Mark Eccleston, Project Manager.

Parts of the collection were previously catalogued by Anne George with support from a volunteer project.
CopiesIn 2004 Primary Source Microfilm micropublished some of the Save the Children Fund Archive as series one of its 'Western Aid and the Global Economy' project; the microfilming had a cut off date of 1972 for the bulk of the materials. This micropublication comprises a set of 101 microfilms and consists of the run of the Fund's journal 'The World's Children' up to 1972 and other SCF publications; and the papers of Eglantyne Jebb, largely in her capacity as Honorary Secretary of the Fund and principally relating to the first 10 years of the SCF's work; some papers of other individuals associated with Eglantyne Jebb and the SCF in its early years.

Other material has also been micropublished, including some minutes of the SCF, principally the Council, 1920-72, Executive Committee, 1938-72, Overseas Advisory Committee, 1961-72, UK Advisory Committee, 1935-72, and other miscellaneous committees; some papers of the Director General, 1965-72; and some papers of the Overseas Department, 1956-72. However, this material is not currently available via microfilm due to Data Protection issues.
Related MaterialCopy photographs of Eglantyne Jebb: MS936
Associated Materials Catalogue of personal papers of Eglantyne Jebb at the Women's Library@LSE
Early films produced by the SCF are held by the National Film Archive
Records of a number of local branches and committees in the UK have been deposited with local archive services; some records of the Jebb family are held at Shropshire Archives


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