Minutes of meetings of and evidence to the Committee of Inquiry into Sexual Morality

Scope and Content

Consists of:


- letters about and minutes of preliminary meeting (14 Oct 1918) concerning the establishment of a commission of inquiry to consider existing legislation and treatment of prostitution and venereal disease, and to consider amendments to existing laws and creation of new laws regarding solicitation and prostitution, brothels, age of consent. Commission led by the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene with 22 other societies (list with financial contributions given)

- first meeting of the Commission of Enquiry Sub-committee held on 1 Oct 1918 with Sir Charles Tarring as Chair. Meetings continue until 14 Jun 1920

- minutes for 5 Nov 1918 - title of committee agreed with sub-title 'to enquire into the laws and their administration and other methods for dealing with sexual promiscuity and to make recommendations thereon' - scope of enquiry, heads of enquiry and a list of suggested names for co-opting to committee and to appear as witnesses

- minutes for 28 Nov 1918 and 13 Jan 1919- witnesses listed

- minutes for 30 Jun 1919 - discussion of additional heads of enquiry

- minutes for 22 Sep and 3 Dec 1919 - question of interim report (gaps in evidence: procuration, places of entertainment, age of consent, detention of boys and girls, compulsory notification, penalising intercourse)

- minutes for 2 Feb to 14 Jun 1920 - consideration of the draft report, publication


Transcripts of interview with witnesses from:

- Dr Mary Gordon, HM Medical Inspector of Women's Prisons (13 Jan 1919)

- Miss Costin, assistant superintendent at Cope Hall Colony, Newbury (women's training centre) (27 Jan 1919)

- Mr E Basil Wedmore, member of the Society of Friends, voluntary rescue worker (27 Jan and 19 Feb 1919)

- Inspector Harburn MBE (of the Women Police Service) (10 Mar 1919)

- Rev Herbert Gray Author of 'As Tommy sees us' (24 Mar 1919)

- William Alexander Coote CBE (7 Apr 1919)

- Mrs Mary Scharlieb MD CBE (5 May 1919)

- Mr W Clarke Hall police magistrate (19 May 1919) (manuscript note reads: 'V good Police evidence procedure employers')

- Miss Shaw warden at Cope Hall Colony (2 Jun 1919)

- Mr Archibald J Allen, non-practising barrister and Deputy chairman for the London Council for the Promotion of Public Morality

- Mr EB Turner FRCS (14 Jul 1919) (manuscript note reads: 'Prophylactics')

- Mr JB Fagan court theatre (3 Nov 1919) (manuscript note reads: 'Censorship of plays')

- Sir Willoughby Dickinson (17 Nov 1919) (manuscript note reads: 'Compulsory detention for young prostitutes history of proposal' )

- Mr WJH Brodrick (1 Dec 1919) (manuscript note reads: 'Valuable on legal aspect' - concerns procuration)

- Dr RA Lyster Society for the Prevention of Venereal Disease (15 Dec 1919)

- Dr CW Saleeby FRS Edinburgh Society for the Prevention of Venereal Disease (5 Jan 1920)

- Dr Helen Wilson (19 Jan 1920) (manuscript note reads: 'upon the question of compulsory notification')

- Dr Skinner and Helen Wilson (19 Jan 1920) (manuscript note reads: 'V good on prostitution and clinics and disinfection')

- Dr Mary Gordon (16 Feb 1920) (manuscript note reads: 'use if allowed for prison report')

- Dr Henry Robinson on behalf of the Medical Defence Union (15 Mar 1920) (manuscript note reads: 'unimportant')