Records of the International Bureau for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons: British National Committee

Archive Collection
  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 106 4BNC
  • Former Reference
      GB 106 BNC1 [Box FL200] BNC2 [Box FL095]
  • Dates of Creation
      1928-1970
  • Language of Material
      English
  • Physical Description
      1.5 A boxes
  • Direct Link

Scope and Content

The archive consists of minutes of the committee (1928-1953) and subcommittee to review the constitution (1948); draft minutes and papers for the 1936 annual meeting; files comprising rules (1931, 1933), invitations to lecture conferences (1943) and International Bureau for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons: British National Committee (BNC) subcommittee minutes; notes and minutes of meetings (1936-1950), International Bureau papers on procedures at congresses, resolutions transmitted, committee membership and correspondence including that of general secretary (1947-1951), report on the work of the International Bureau since 1947 (1948), Rachael Crowdy's suggestions re: Article VI of draft United Nations (UN) convention.

Abbreviations:

BVA - British Vigilance Association.

IBS - International Bureau for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons.

NVA - National Vigilance Association.

UN - United Nations.

Administrative / Biographical History

The International Bureau for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons: British National Committee (1899-1953) was established at the end of the nineteenth century, the widespread campaign against the Contagious Diseases Acts had had the effect of focussing attention on the issue of prostitution. This had the result of encouraging the growth of groups like the National Vigilance Association whose aim was to work against the trade and its causes. In 1898, this body agreed to address concerns about the international aspect of prostitution and began laying the foundations of an international federation of bodies, working towards the abolition of the traffic in persons, which came into being in 1899. This International Bureau for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons consisted of representatives from each of the constituent bodies, including five from the National Vigilance Association itself. Subsequently, this core of five became the English National Committee in accordance with the International Bureau's constitution regarding its branches. Subsequently, other British groups and societies were requested to send representatives to their meetings so that in 1907 the organisation became the British National Committee for the Suppression of the White Slave Trade. Six years later, their increasingly broad base may be judged from a list of member associations and societies in 1913: Church Army, Church of England Moral Welfare Society, Association for Moral & Social Hygiene, West London Mission, British Social Hygiene Council, Catholic Women's League, Manchester Moral Welfare Association, Alliance of Honour, National Vigilance Association, Liverpool Hygiene Association, National Vigilance Association of Scotland, Jewish Association for the Protection of Women and Girls, the International Bureau, London Haven for Women and Girls, Missions to Seamen, National Council of Women, Public Morality Council, Central After Care Association for Women and Girls, Presbyterian Church of England, Methodist Church, and the Hull Vigilance Association. During World War I the Committee did not meet between 1915 and 1918 but was reconstituted in 1919 when its name was changed to The British National Committee for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic and the International Traffic in Women. By 1932, membership was open to all major British organisations doing practical work for the protection of women and children and the group flourished throughout the 1930s. World War II again disrupted international work and in the post-war years membership was widened once more to include societies working for the protection of women and children. The National Vigilance Association faced financial difficulties after the war, leading to its amalgamation with the British National Committee in 1953. The new body was called The British Vigilance Association and the National Committee for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons, but was generally known as the British Vigilance Association.

Conditions Governing Access

Gift

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

All the archives in Strand 4 came to The Fawcett Library from the offices of the British Vigilance Association and International Bureau for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons, some directly in 1972 and the remainder in 1973 via the Anti-Slavery Society, who had been given the more recent records to use in their own work.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue.

Related Material

The Women's Library holds the archives of 6 organisations in Strand 4 all of which are closely related. By the end of their existence the organisations operated from the same address, often by the same people. The organisations aimed to aid and protect women, minors (including young men) and children in the areas of sexual and social morality. They operated on a regional, national and international basis, finally ceasing activities in the early 1970s when the British Vigilance Association and the Anti-Slavery Society passed the archives to The Fawcett Library. National activity is also represented by the National Vigilance Association archive, whilst the International Bureau for Suppression of Traffic in Persons tells the international story. Strand 4 is particularly closely related to the Strand 3, also held at The Women's Library, because the issues of prostitution and trafficking of women are so closely interrelated. Many of the activists and organisations have integral links and together they form a history of a subject that even now is rarely discussed.

Strand 4 comprises the following archives:

* 4BNC International Bureau for the Suppression of Traffic in Persons: British National Committee

* 4BVA British Vigilance Association

* 4IBS International Bureau for Suppression of Traffic in Persons

* 4NVA National Vigilance Association

* 4RFR Richard F Russell

* 4TAS Travellers' Aid Society

Strand 3 comprises the following related archives:

* 3AMS Association for Moral and Social Hygiene

* 3BGF British Committee of the Continental & General Federation for Abolition of Government Regulation of Prostitution

* 3HJW Henry Joseph Wilson

* 3JBL Josephine Butler Letters Collection

* 3JSM James Stansfeld Memorial Trust

* 3LCA Lancashire & Cheshire Association for the Abolition of the State Regulation of Vice

* 3LNA Ladies National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts

* 3NAR National Association for the Repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts

The British Library of Political and Economic Science holds British and Foreign Anti Slavery Society records c1873-c1900 (ref. COLL MISC 0101) whilst Oxford University: Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House holds the records of Anti Slavery International records dating from 1957-1972 (ref. MSS Brit Emp s 16-24 ). As at 2008 a large number of books and archives were still held by the organisation Anti-Slavery International (HQ).