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Senate House Library

Family Welfare Association Library

About 5,000 late 19th- and early 20th-century publications on poverty, the Poor Law, education, health and the blind.

The Collection 

Subject: Social welfare (social sciences) 

About 5,000 volumes of material on all social questions, comprising monographs, 300 volumes of pamphlets, and over 100 volumes of government publications. Publications on poverty and the Poor Law; education; mental and physical health; and the blind are prominent. Other topics include: domestic economy; nutrition; political economy; social services; unemployment; women and work; the working classes; housing; pensions; parenting; criminals, law and prisons; insurance; socialism; and work prospects resulting specifically from the First World War, such as The Future of the Disabled Soldier (1917). The Family Welfare Association’s publications are present, alongside studies emanating from the University of Liverpool, and reports from London boroughs, conferences, and various councils. Local studies join a little history and biography and some novels. Most items date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries publications, with 100 pre-1851 items. 

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 bequest of the co-operator William Pare (1805-1873; see ODNB), many of whose books are in distinctive bindings marked by his initials, is included and contains a considerable amount of material relating to Robert Owen, assembled for an intended biography which was never completed. 

The collection is the library of the Family Welfare Association (F.W.A.), which was founded in 1869 as the Society for Organising Charitable Relief and Repressing Mendicity and later called the Charity Organisation Society (1871-1946) and, after its time as the F.W.A., Family Action (2008-). The Association deposited the collection in the Goldsmiths’ Library of Economic Literature on permanent loan in 1963. In 2017 Family Action added some material and turned the loan into a gift.