Finding Number (Click this to view full catalogue structure)SCF
TitleSave the Children Fund Archive
Extentc 2000 boxes
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DescriptionThe archive of the Save the Children Fund (known as Save the Children) comprises an almost complete set of its minutes and of its publications from 1920; the papers of Eglantyne Jebb as secretary of the SCF and relating to the early history of the Fund in the 1920s; extensive papers of the SCF administration and its officers, including papers of Director Generals - principally of Sir Colin Thornley (1965-1974) and of John A. Cumber (1976-1984), papers of its Finance Department, Publicity Department, Overseas Relief and Welfare Department, Commonwealth and Foreign Department and Home Welfare Department and substantial material relating to its overseas programmes, particularly from the 1960s. The archive also includes records of some of its UK children's homes including Hill House, the Esther Lawrence International Holiday Home in Essex, Fairfield House Residential Open-Air School for Girls in Broadstairs, Harmeny School in Scotland and Warren's Wood Children's Home in London.

There is a substantial collection of photographs (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 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 archive also includes a wide range of publicity material, including posters, which provide evidence of its mass marketing campaigns, together with a number of artefacts which complement the paper records.

The SCF archive encompasses the whole spectrum of the organisation'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 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. Its overseas relief work in response to famine, war, earthquakes, floods and other disasters and emergency situations is also very well documented. The early secretary's papers include, for example, materials relating to the SCF's response to the famine in Russia in 1921 and the Armenian refugees from the the Turko-Greek War from 1922 and demonstrate the fast-growing demands on the organisation; the growing expansion of its role in overseas work to encompass the provision of practical education and training facilities of both local staff and population and longer term aid projects such as irrigation schemes, as well as the provision of necessities such as food, clothing and medical aid; and the introduction of innoculation programmes and campaigns such as 'Stop Polio'.

Its innovative approaches to the use of the media, its role as a pressure group and its fund raising ventures are also well represented in the archive. Its 'National Penny-a-Week' appeal, which was launched in 1948, and its 'adoption', more recently known as 'sponsorship', scheme, are notable examples of highly successful campaigns.

In addition to some personal papers of Eglantyne Jebb, which can be found amongst her papers as SCF secretary, the archive includes other personal collections which relate to both the work of the SCF and its fieldworkers and to its founder: papers of Mary Katherine Hawkins (1911-2001), an SCF worker with Palestinian refugees in Palestine; Edward Fuller (b 1889), author; 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), member of the SCF Council; Dorothy Frances Buxton (1881-1963), political campaigner and author; Margaret Hill (nee Keynes) (1885-1970), social worker and friend of Eglantyne Jebb.
ArrangementThe archive is organised largely according to the SCF's own arrangement and finding aid. The renaming of committees and departments over time has meant that the titles of the various sections bear a name that may have changed; and the archive has been arranged partly according to general function. The SCF archivist sorted and listed the archive as it was in 1995 and the structure of the catalogue reflects that general arrangement.

There are currently four sequences of boxes: boxes numbered A1-A1766 (with some gaps, see physical description field); boxes numbered 1-147 containing the SCF's collection of photographs and transparencies up to about 1997 (PP and PT sequences); and two series of boxes comprising photographs and transparencies generally post-1997-2003.
Access ConditionsMaterial of any date already in the public domain, such as publications and posters, is open for all to access.

Material dated up to and including 1993:
SCF is currently working to a 25-year policy on opening up its archive. This means that material up to and including 1993 (correct as of 2019) is now open to researchers subject to Data Protection issues. All material dated up to and including 1993 must be checked by staff before it can be consulted by researchers. If you are interested in archive material up to and including 1993, please contact ourselves ( with your request in writing. We will respond to your enquiry within 15 working days.

Material dated 1994 onwards:
Records dated 1994 and later are not open for research, but researchers may wish to make a special request for permission from Save the Children for access to this later material. To make a request, please supply a full statement about your research, including what theme or countries you are looking into, the time period (date range), as much detail as possible about the records requested (e.g. Council and committee minutes, reports, correspondence), the Finding Numbers and SCF/A Box number (if known), and what form the completed research will take (e.g. academic dissertation, journal article, book). Please forward these details to Sara Shan at Save the Children, email:, copying in ourselves (

PLEASE NOTE: Between January 2019 and June 2021, the Save the Children Fund archive is undergoing a full cataloguing programme. For guidance on finding and accessing material in the archive during this time, please contact ourselves (, at least 5 working days in advance of any intended visit.
Finding AidsThere are three separate preliminary lists of the photographs and slides in the collection. These lists are: Photographs and Slides, c 1920-1997 (largely the list available in electronic format on the Access to Archives (A2A) Website, see below); Photographs c 1997-2003; and Slides c 1997-2003. Please note that these photographs and slides are for viewing only and may not be copied without express permission from SCF.

The SCF created its own database of the contents of the archive which it has used for its own internal use. At present, this database is not available to researchers as it contains confidential information intended for internal use only. However researchers may make enquiries about the archive by contacting Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections at:

PLEASE NOTE: The previously available handlist detailing open archive material has been temporarily withdrawn while the collection undergoes full cataloguing. If you are interested in using material please contact the Cadbury Research Library at
DocumentSCF Material available on Microfilm final version.pdf
SCF Photographs and slides c 1920-1997.pdf
SCF Photographs and Slides, c1997-2003.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 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
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; 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; 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.

Cadbury Research Library: Special Collections holds a complete set of the microfilms, however some of the reels have been temporarily withdrawn while full cataloguing of the collection takes place. If you are intereseted in viewing any of the material listed on the microfilm handlist, please contact the Cadbury Research Library at
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