A guide to the archives of charities and self-help societies such as associations for the prosecution of felons, friendly societies and nursing associations as well as societies with a social purpose.
Major series of charity records concern education, almshouses, or general and parish interests. Educational charities are chiefly about the maintenance of a school and provision of schooling for poor children in their locality, while those relating to almshouses (hospitals) deal with the building and running of these institutions.
Returns and other records from Derbyshire charities to the Charity Commission from 1886 can be found under reference D2723. A list of all the archive collections for Derbyshire charities held at the Record Office can be found via our online catalogue. The following links can also be used to browse shorter lists by type of charity:
- Advisory services, including citizens advice bureaus and Rural Action Derbyshire (formerly Derbyshire Rural Community Council)
- Environmental and built environment charities, including Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust
- Educational charities and trusts, including friends groups and Parent Teacher Associations
- Employee welfare charities, including miners welfare committees and Derbyshire Unemployed Workers’ Centres
- Health and welfare charities, including records of almshouses, nursing associations and a wide range of organisations concerned with supporting individuals, groups and their local area
- Local branches of international humanitarian charities, particularly Rotary Clubs, the Red Cross and Oxfam
- Religious charities, including the Chesterfield branch of the YMCA (Young Men’s Christian Association)
- Service personnel welfare and war memorial charities, including local branches of the Royal British Legion, the Red Cross, and the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service.
Note: where charities fall into more than one category, they are found in all appropriate lists.
The modern Co-operative Society originated with the 28 poor weavers calling themselves the Equitable Pioneers of Rochdale, and the food shop they opened in 1844. Food the poor could afford was often heavily adulterated and the Rochdale Pioneers chief object was to supply pure food. They bought wholesale, sold at reasonable prices and divided the profits amongst members as dividend. From the 1850s, the movement spread rapidly, particularly in the North and Midlands. The co-operative societies also increased the range of goods sold, expanded into the provision of services such as undertaking and widened their objectives to include the promotion of education, some providing scholarships, organising cultural (and social) events and paying evening class fees.
A list of archive collections of Co-operative Societies can be found via the online catalogue. It is also worth searching the Any Text field for other items relating to these societies that might be amongst family and other archive collections – there are over 250 entries containing the words co-operative (or cooperative) society.
Mutual self-help societies have existed for centuries, for example, medieval trade guilds. In the mid-18th century, the principle was applied to social concerns too and operated as insurance. Members of the society would pay a subscription and then be able to submit a claim if they were sick or unable to work, and depending on the society’s rules, their families may have been able to claim after the member’s death.
The Friendly Society Act of 1793, and subsequent amendments, required the deposit with the Clerk of the Peace of a variety of documents relating to these societies. (The Unlawful Societies Act of 1799 led, slightly indirectly, to the registration of freemasons’ lodges – they were exempt from the provision of the Act if their members’ were certified annually). The surviving documents can be found under reference Q/RS/2. Click here for a list of collections relating to mutual benefit societies.
Associations/Societies for the Prosecution of Felons
Prosecuting societies were common before the establishment of police forces in the 1830s. They offered rewards for information and paid the expenses of prosecuting offenders. A small number of archive collections survive for Derbyshire association, please see the catalogue for a full list. Other collections also include items relating to these organisations, so a search of the Any Text field is always useful.