Salvation Army personal papers collections: William Booth

Scope and Content

These are the personal papers of William Booth, 1829-1912.

This collection includes Booth's personal papers along with photographs relating to his life, ephemera and press cuttings.

As no original order has survived, the records have been arranged in a logical structure.

The arrangement is as follows:

PWB 1: Correspondence

PWB 2: Diaries

PWB 3: Sermons

PWB 4: Certificates and legal documents

PWB 5: Pictures

PWB 6: Ephemera

PWB 7: Press Cuttings

PWB 8: 'Memorandum re The World University of Humanity'

PWB 9: William Booth's Bible

Administrative / Biographical History

William Booth was born in Sneinton, Nottingham on 10 April 1829. He was one of five children of Samuel Booth, a builder, and his second wife Mary Moss. At the age of 15, he was converted at Wesley Chapel, Nottingham, and two years later became a local preacher. He was influenced by visiting revivalists, including Isaac Marsden and the American evangelist, James Caughey. In 1849 he moved to London, working as a pawnbroker until 1852, when he became a preacher at Binfield House, a Methodist Reform Chapel in Clapham. Later that year he was appointed to Spalding, Lincolnshire. In 1854, he joined the Methodist New Connexion, serving as an assistant minister in London, and then for two years as an evangelist. In 1857 he was appointed to Brighouse, Yorkshire, and then served in Gateshead, 1858-61. Subsequently, he conducted mission meetings as an independent evangelist, 1861-65, leading revivals in various places, including Cornwall, Cardiff, Walsall, Leeds and London. A series of tent meetings in East London in July and August 1865 led to the development of the East London Christian Mission, which became the Christian Mission in 1869 and The Salvation Army in 1878. On 16 June 1855 he married Catherine Mumford, they had eight children and Catherine died in 1890. Booth died at his home, Hadley Wood in Hertfordshire on 20 August 1912 and was buried, next to Catherine, at Abney Park, Stoke Newington on 29 August 1912. By 1912, Army work was established in 58 countries. His extensive publications included 'In Darkest England and the Way Out', 1890, in which he outlined his scheme for social service and salvation.

Access Information

Open for research. The reading room of The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre is open Tue-Fri 9.30-4.00. It is advisable to make an appointment. Tel: 0207 326 7800; email: