Salvation Army UK Territorial departments: Women's Social Services in Great Britain and Ireland

Scope and Content

These are the records of the headquarters of the Salvation Army Women's Social Services in Great Britain and Ireland, 1885-1979.

The Salvation Army Women's Social Services and its predecessors, the Women's Social Work and the Women's Rescue Work, were in existence from 1885 until April 1978 when they amalgamated with the Men's Social Services to form the Social Services. All the records in this collection date from before April 1978 except for three volumes that bridge the transition to the Social Services but ceased to be used soon after (by 1979) and so have been retained in this collection.

The arrangement of the records is as follows:

  • WSW/1: Officer records
  • WSW/2: Applicants Secretary's Interview Books [Partially closed]
  • WSW/3: Adoption records [Closed]
  • WSW/4: Adoption books [Closed]
  • WSW/5: Photographs
  • WSW/6: Appeals
  • WSW/7: Correspondence and papers
  • WSW/8: Finance records
  • WSW/9: Events and openings
  • WSW/10: Reports, publications and scrapbooks
  • WSW/11: Statistics and aggregated data

Administrative / Biographical History

Salvation Army 'rescue work' began officially in 1884 when a cottage in Hanbury Street was rented to serve as a Refuge for Women. Florence Booth, the wife of the then Chief of the Staff, Bramwell Booth, was placed in charge of the Rescue Work from its earliest days and remained leader of the Women's Social Work, as it became known, until 1912. Three more homes for women, all 'industrial' homes, were opened in London before an official headquarters for Rescue Work was established. In 1887, the former Salvation Army Training Home at 259 Mare Street, Hackney, opened as the headquarters for Rescue Work, and this site remained the headquarters of the Women's Social Work until 1908, at which time the headquarters moved to 159 Lower Clapton Road. In 1910, headquarters moved again to 280 Mare Street, and remained there beyond the amalgamation of the Women's Social Services with the Men's. The Women's Social Work became known as the Women's Social Services in 1966.

The Women's Social Work/Services consisted of various functions during its existence. Headquarters had oversight of diverse work in homes, hostels and other types of outpost, with a distinction for a long time made between those in London and those elsewhere in the UK (known as 'Provincial'). These included receiving and rescue homes for 'fallen' or homeless women; 'industrial homes' or 'labour factories', including knitting and laundry homes, to train women for occupations; maternity homes, hospitals, and district posts; a training school for nurses; homes for mothers and infants; a training home for mothers with children; inebriate homes for women; children's homes; shelters, hostels, metropoles and residences for women and girls; slum posts; midnight and patrol work posts; eventide homes; approved schools; and probation hostels. The Women's Social Work/Services Headquarters included the following Departments at various times: Maternity, Finance, Industries, Applicants, Eventide Work, Children's Aid and Enquiry/Inquiry (later Family Services and Inquiry), Midnight and Police Court, Special Efforts [and National Women's Social Auxiliary Force], Statistics, and Subscribers.

In April 1978 the Women's Social Services amalgamated with the Men's Social Services (MSW) to form the Social Services (SS). The Social Services headquarters were at 280 Mare Street, London (the former Women's Social Services headquarters). As part of the reorganisation of the International Headquarters' administrative structure in 1991, the Social Services became incorporated into the administrative structure of the newly created UK Territory. The Social Services continued to have their own separate site at 105-109 Judd Street, London until 1999 when they relocated to the new site of the UK Territorial Headquarters at 101 Newington Causeway, London.

Access Information

This collection is partially available for research. Records of a personal nature relating to identified individuals are closed for the lifespan of the individual. When it is not possible to establish whether an individual has died, a closure period of 84 years (if the individual was an adult when the record was created) or 100 years (if the individual was a child when the record was created) is imposed under the Data Protection Act. Please enquire for details. Open files can be viewed in the reading room of The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre, open Tue-Fri 9.30-4.00. It is advisable to make an appointment. Tel: 0207 326 7800; email: .

Other Finding Aids

A multi-level description of this collection can be accessed in the International Heritage Centre's online catalogue: . A paper catalogue is available in the reading room of the International Heritage Centre.