This archive consists of letters primarily by Josephine Butler, but also by key members of her family (such as her husband) and by colleagues and friends (such as Henry Wilson). Josephine Butler was a Victorian social reformer who campaigned against prostitution and the Contagious Diseases Acts (1864,1866 and 1869). In addition to the original letters held by The Women's Library, this archive includes photocopies of correspondence held at the University of Liverpool Special Collections.
At some point (probably in the 1960s) the correspondence held at The Women's Library was placed in chronological order. Prior to the collection being copied to microfiche (possibly in the 1980s), the photocopies from Liverpool were interleaved. Also interleaved and copied to microfiches were abstracts and administrative history notes made by Miss Burton, a member of the Fawcett Library.
The online catalogue includes the index of who the letters were to and from; the date of the letter; abstracts of each individual letter; and the administrative history and biographical notes made by Miss Burton.
The catalogue supercedes the original finding aid, a card index of correspondents that was available in The Women's Library Reading Room. The collection is available on microfiche in the Reading Room.
Henry J Wilson was Honorary Secretary of the Northern Counties Electoral League For The Repeal Of The Contagious Diseases Acts. There are a number of letters in the Josephine Butler Letters Collection which relate to the Northern Counties Electoral League. These letters bear Henry J Wilson's usual stamp for those files and his reference numbers (marked in blue pencil). At some stage his copies of letters were removed from his personal archive and placed in the Josephine Butler Letters Collection. Readers should also look at 3HJW for further records re the Northern Counties League.
Some of the copy letters are very faint, both on the microfiche and in the original. These are primarily letters that were copied using a 'wet' process. A thin sheet of tissue paper was damped and blotted over the original letter. This took a pale, often fuzzy copy of the letter, which was read 'through' the tissue. As well as being very faint these copies are very fragile.
CD / CDA Contagious Diseases Act
'RR' in the notes refers to 'Rough Record' a copy of which is available in the library, [search Printed Collections Catalogue for 'Keyword' for 'Rough Record'.]