Josephine Butler Collection

Scope and Content

The Josephine Butler Collections comprise the Josephine Butler Papers (JB), including correspondence, personal papers, paintings, portraits, photographs and memorabilia of Josephine Elizabeth Butler, dating from 1853-1906 , with memorials of her death and the centenary of her birth, and the archive of Josephine Buttler Memorial House(JBMH).The Josephine Butler Memorial House Archive contains administrative records, examination results, papers relating to the syllabus of training courses, House publications, scrapbooks and photographs of staff buildings dating from 1920-1976 .

Administrative / Biographical History

Josephine Elizabeth Butler, nee Grey(13 April 1828 - 30 December 1906) was born to a prosperous and progressive Northumbrian family, whose high social standing, religious activities and wide intellectual contacts formed the background to a life of campaigning for the treatment of men and women as individuals equally deserving of respect, and bound by the same moral standards. The feminist concerns and devout Christianity which she shared with her husband, the Reverend George Butler, informed both her work in support of the higher education of women, in which she worked closely with Anne Jemima Clough and Millicent Garrett Fawcett, and her leadership of the campaign for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts (1864-1869) in Britain and its colonies. After the repeal of the Acts in April 1886, she continued her opposition to the official regulation of prostitution in Europe and America through her leading role in the International Federation for the Abolition of State Regulation of Vice.

After JEB's death the Josephine Butler Memorial House was set up to promulgate and maintain"the cardinal principles of the International Abolitionist Federation as laid down by its founder Josephine Butler" specifically by providing training for women to become professional administrators in the field of social welfare. The Memorial House was governed by a Council, approved by the Archbishops' Advisory Board for Preventive and Rescue Work and, by the terms of the constitution, not less than two-thirds of the students were to be Anglicans. From its inception, the Memorial House had a close connection with the University of Liverpool, which was represented on the Council, employing lecturers from the University and encouraging its best students to take the University Social Science Certificate. Following the post-war expansion in health and welfare services, the syllabus at the House was revised and updated, but it struggled to gain recognition for its courses as the social services were professionalized. In 1970 the decision was taken to shut the House, and after a brief period as a residential hostel, the house closed at the end of the summer term in 1974.


The Josephine Butler collections are arranged into two separate archives, the Josephine Butler papers (JB) and Josephine Butler Memorial House (JBMH)

The Josephine Butler Papers (JB) are arranged in three parts

  • Correspondence and Personal Papers
  • Artwork and Artefacts
  • Death and Centenary Celebrations

The Josephine Butler Memorial House Archive is arranged in to four parts

  • Administrative Records
  • Students and Training
  • Publicity
  • Photographs and Artefacts

Access Information

Access is open to bona fide researchers

Acquisition Information

The Josephine butler Collections were received in three main deposits, c.360 letters and personal papers of Josephine Elizabeth Butler (formerly Butler MSSS I) presented by her grandson, A.S.G. Butler, in 1958 , and a further c. 215 letters, together with paintings, portraits, photographs and memorabilia, transfered from Josephine Butler Memorial House in September 1974 and January 1975 (Formerly butler MSS III, part of III A, IIB and II C). The archive of Josephine Butler Memorial House was transferred to the University of Liverpool, via the Archdeacon of Liverpool, in January 1975  and December 1976  A small number have letters were purchased.

Other Finding Aids

A finding aid is available for consultation in the reading room.

Alternative Form Available

Readers are requested to use the IDC/Fawcett Library microfiche of the Josephine Butler letter Collections (SPEC Microcard 120) for all materials available in this form. Letters from Josephine Butler with callmarks JB 1/1 [date](I) will routinely be produced in microfiche form.

Most of the materials received from A.S.G. Butler in 1958 were microfilmed for the IDC/Fawcett Library Josephine Butler Letter Collection on microfiche

Archivist's Note

The Josephine Butler papers were originally listed by Enid Morberly Bell, for this list see JB/3/5/5.

Separated Material

Details of copies of many of JEB's published books and pamphlets may be found in the catalogue of Liverpool University Library and the records can be searched as a group under the local call number Spec Butler. Copy notes give provenance information, identifying books and pamphlets which formed part of the JBMH Library(see also the hahandlist for the JBMH archive), before and after the bequest from George Grey Butler's estate, and those which have presentation inscriptions by JEB.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction and licensing rules available on request

Custodial History

The Records had previously been in the custody of the Butler family and of Josephine Butler Memorial House


There are no anticipated accruals

Related Material

The Josephine Butler Society Library at The Fawcett Library, London Guildhall University (now the Women's Library) includes correspondence, drawings, paintings and photographs of Josephine Butler, and copies of books and pamphlets written by her

Leeds University Library hold 28 letters from Josephine Butler to Hannah and Emily Ford.

St Andrews University Library hold an album of c.100 items compiled by one of Josephine Butler's sons, consisting of mainly letters to Josephine or George Butler.

Northumberland Record Office hold letters and diaries of Josephine Butler, part of the Grey family archives.

There are correspondence between JEB and Benjamin Jowett's first biographer in the Jowett papers at Balliol College Library, Oxford University.

Student Records for former students of Josephine Butler Memorial House are held at Church House, and parts of the library not transfered to Liverpool University Library are held by the Anglican Cathedral of Liverpool Library

Location of Originals

Both JB and JBMH are original material, the originals of the Josephine Butler Society library that we a hold on microfiche are held at the Fawcett Library, London Guildhall University (now the Women's Library)