The collection

About 5,000 volumes of books and pamphlets. Most are late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century publications, with 100 pre-1851 items, 300 volumes of pamphlets and over 100 volumes of government publications. The collection covers all social questions, with an emphasis on poverty and the Poor Law; education, mental and physical health and the blind. Donations include those of the social theorist Thomas Mackay (1849-1912; see ODNB), the social worker Sir Charles Stewart Loch (1849-1923; see ODNB) and William Harris, who gave a collection of books on the care and teaching of the blind. The library also contains the bequest of the co-operator William Pare (1805-1873; see ODNB), many of whose books are in distinctive bindings, marked by his initials. Pare material includes a considerable amount of material relating to Robert Owen, assembled for an intended biography which was never completed.


The collector

The Family Welfare Association (F.W.A.), founded in 1869 as the Society for Organising Charitable Relief and Repressing Mendicity and later (1871-1946) called the Charity Organisation Society and then Family Action.



Deposited on permanent loan in the Goldsmiths’ Library in 1963 and turned into a gift, with some additions, in 2017.



Catalogued online. To gain an overview of the collection, do a mixed classmark search on F.W.A. For a typescript handlist of the books deposited in 1963, see the PDF files below (a hard copy is available in the Special Collections Reading Room):

The collection is held off-site and material requires 48 hours (excluding weekends) to be fetched.


Related archives

The original records of the FWA — including administrative papers, annual reports, papers of the Secretary and Director, papers of the Enquiry Department and Registration Department, publications, papers of the Grants Department, papers of the Almshouses Department, case files and financial records — are deposited at London Metropolitan Archives.