A new Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives launched at the House of Lords on Monday 15th October.
The Campaign has grown out of concern for the neglect of archives and records across the voluntary sector. Unlike public records produced by government which will end up in the National Archives at Kew, there is little legal protection for charity archives. Yet it will not be possible to write the history of modern Britain without using the records of voluntary organisations.
The Campaign aims to convince charity leaders and trustees that archives have relevance for an organisation’s current work. WRVS Chief Executive David McCullough will make the business case for charities’ investing time and money in preserving their history. David McCullough said:
“The historical records contained in charity archives are just as vital today as they were when they were first produced. Preserving and sharing our archives means we are able to use past successes and failures to inform decisions made today. WRVS celebrates its 75th anniversary next year and we are incredibly proud of our archive which contains historical images and narrative reports detailing the contribution of millions of women during periods of enormous social change.”
Archives are also important as part of the charity sector's wider public benefit responsibility. Such archives contain what may be otherwise unrecorded histories of people and communities.
There can be little change without the support of the Trusts and Foundations which help fund the sector’s work. Three funding bodies that share a commitment to voluntary sector archives and history will present at the launch - The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund, the Barrow Cadbury Trust and the Heritage Lottery Fund.
The Campaign hopes to encourage all charities, voluntary organisations, trusts and foundations to take responsibility for their archives by providing for their management, preservation, use and promotion.
The launch at the House of Lords was sponsored by Baroness Pitkeathley and funded by The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund. Chaired by Professor Virginia Berridge, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine's History Centre, the full list of speakers were as follows:
Ruth Bond, Chair of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes
Judy Burg, University Archivist, Hull History Centre
Matthew Hilton, Professor of Social History, Uni. of Birmingham
Tristram Hunt MP
Diana Leat, Board Member, The Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund
David McCullough, Chief Executive, WRVS
Oliver Morley, Chief Executive and Keeper of the National Archives
Carole Souter, Chief Executive, Heritage Lottery Fund
Anna Southall, Trustee, Barrow Cadbury Trust
The Campaign is led by a steering group of researchers, custodians, creators of records and others which meets quarterly at the British Library. Please visit www.voluntarysectorarchives.org.uk for more information, case studies and bespoke guidance on archives for the voluntary sector.