COLBERT, John (Woodcraft Folk) (1945-2012)

Scope and Content

Papers of John Colbert and the Woodcraft Folk (1895-1990), including: Woodcraft Folk papers including: subscription books, papers regarding the 1987 Annual Delegates Conference, and papers regarding offsite activities for the Village and Town Programme Committee International Camp (1988), 1935-1990; Woodcraft Folk magazines and newsletters, including issues of 'The Pioneer of the Folk', 'New Pioneer' and 'Helper', 1934-1944; papers, scrapbooks and photographs from excursions to the Malvern in Worcestershire, Viana do Castelo and Braga in Portugal and Llanfairfechan, 1979-1985; Woodcraft Folk publications, including: 'The Woodcraft Way' booklets, leaflets, miscellaneous booklets and songbooks, 1931-1997; photographs and press cuttings of the Woodcraft Folk activities and camps, c.1930-1982; books, 1895-1977; Woodcraft Folk memorabilia, including postcards, bunting flags, badges, medals, and clothing, 1928-c.1985; and audio-visuals including films and audio recordings of the Woodcraft Folk, 1951-1982. (1895-1990)

Administrative / Biographical History

John Colbert was born in to a family of Woodcraft Folk members. His parents and other relatives were all part of the movement since the early days. John also met his wife Barbara during Woodcraft Folk activities.The Woodcraft Folk has similar roots to the Scouts and derives from the Kindred of the Kibbo Kift, a movement created by an ex-Scout, John Hargrave, who had broken away from the Scouting movement shortly after the First World War because he considered it too militaristic. In 1925, Leslie Paul led some south London co-operative groups, who considered Hargrave’s approach too authoritarian, in to forming the Woodcraft Folk.Since its early days the Woodcraft Folk had a strong non-religious and anti-capitalist focus and recruited both adults and children regardless of their gender. Due to its connections to the Co-Operative Societies, labour and trade union movements until the 1960’s most of Woodcraft Folk groups were based in working-class industrial areas in London, Coventry and Sheffield.The Woodcraft Folk is a movement that aims to educated children following principles of equality, friendship, peace and co-operation and until the 1990’s most of the learning process involved camping, hiking and other outdoor activities.The movement is part of the International Falcon Movement –Socialist Education International, a federation of progressive youth organisations that advocates for children’s’ rights and education. The movement is also member of Co-operatives UK, Stop the War Coalition, it is affiliated to the National Peace Council, Campaign Against Arms Trade and works closely with local CND branches.


The Colbert Archive is divided into the following eight sections:

  • COLBERT/1: Woodcraft Folk papers
  • COLBERT/2: Woodcraft Folk magazines and newsletters
  • COLBERT/3: Scrapbooks, diaries and information on expeditions and camps
  • COLBERT/4: Woodcraft Folk Publications
  • COLBERT/5: Photographs
  • COLBERT/6: Books
  • COLBERT/7: Memorabilia
  • COLBERT/8: Audio-visual

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Deposited to Bishopsgate Institute by Barbara Colbert, July 2014

Other Finding Aids

Adlib catalogue and handlist available in researcher's area.

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Grace Biggins

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopying and digital photography (without flash) is permitted for research purposes on completion of the Library's Copyright Declaration form and with respect to current UK copyright law.