AIM25 : Click here to go back to the AIM25 homepage
Archives in London and the M25 area

Health Visitors' Association

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0120 SA/HVA
Held at: Wellcome Library
  Click here to find out how to view this collection at ›
Full title: Health Visitors' Association
Date(s): 1902-1984
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 84 boxes, 19 o/s boxes, 52 transfer boxes, 10 folders, 2 packets and 1 large roll
Name of creator(s): Health Visitors' Association
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

The organisation now known as the Health Visitors' Association was founded in 1896 as Women Sanitary Inspectors' Association; renamed in 1915 as the Women Sanitary Inspectors' and Health Visitors' Association and in 1930 became the Women Public Health Officers' Association. The name Health Visitors' Association was adopted in 1962.

The Women Sanitary Inspectors' Association was founded in 1896 by seven women sanitary workers, all based in London. By 1906 the membership had risen to sixty-three and that year invitations to join the Association were sent out to those working in the provinces. The main aims of the Association have remained constant throughout its history - to safeguard the interests and improve the status of women public health workers and to promote the interchange of relevant technical and professional knowledge. In 1915 the name of the Association was changed to The Women Sanitary Inspectors' and Health Visitors' Association to reflect the increased number of Health Visitors who had joined, and in 1929 it became The Women Public Health Officers' Association due to the inclusion in the membership of others working in the public health field. In 1962 it adopted the new name of The Health Visitors' Association as this was seen as more indicative of the work and function of most members, although other types of workers were not excluded.

Throughout its history the Association has been interested in the work of the many different types of health worker who have been eligible for membership at one time or another such as school nurses, tuberculosis visitors, sanitary inspectors, clinic nurses, family planning nurses, domiciliary midwives and matrons of day nurseries as well as health visitors themselves, and has shared connections with parallel professions such as nursing, social work, district nursing and midwifery. In 1918 the Association affiliated to the National Union of Women Workers and in 1924 was the first health service union to affiliate to the Trades Union Congress and has actively negotiated and campaigned on a variety of issues such as pay and conditions, state welfare benefits, training, etc.

The early emphasis of health visiting was on mother and child care, as part of the tide of concern over infant mortality during the late 19th and early 20th century, but later, particularly after the National Health Service Acts of 1946-7, their work extended into involvement with the health of the whole family and other groups such as those needing after-care following admission to hospital, those with long term illness, the recently bereaved, and families with social problems, although the emphasis throughout has remained on public health education. Because of this, and the varied settings in which its members have worked at different times over the years, such as the home and school, workshop and factory, as well as the health centre, clinic and hospital, the records of the Association, and of the individual health visitors which lie alongside them, document many social, rather than purely medical, aspects of health and disease in a wide range of areas ranging from the working conditions of outworkers and the recovery of the tuberculous at the beginning of the century, to, more recently, concern over cigarette advertising and the public health implications of the chemical and nuclear industries.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of the Health Visitors' Association dating from the turn of the 19th and 20th century until 1984, when Jane Wyndham-Kaye retired as General Secretary. It consists of minute books of the Executive Committee and various sub-committees, publications, ephemera and photographs, produced or collected by the Association. It does not, however, include any material from the Association's regional Centres and specialist Groups.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

A very simple arrangement has been adopted for the collection. Runs of annual reports, minute books, publications and photographs have been sorted into separate sequences, the remaining odd administrative files, volumes and papers being placed in a single chronological sequence. Books collected by the Association on subjects of professional interest have been transferred to the Historical and Modern Medicine sections of the Wellcome Institute Library and may be consulted there. Also with the collection are a few records generated by other organisations (see Section F.) and the papers of several individual health visitors, who worked both in the UK and abroad (see Section G.) and these have been listed separately.

Conditions governing access:

Some items closed pending conservation.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Readers are restricted to 100 photocopies in twelve months. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

Finding aids:

Hardcopy list. The catalogue is available on microfiche via the National Inventory of Documentary Sources (NIDS).

Archival Information

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

These records were deposited on permanent loan with the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre at the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine by the Health Visitors' Association, in July 1993. An additional deposit consisting of the Association's Journal was made in July 1994

Allied Materials

Related material:

Publication note:

'The archive of the Health Visitors' Association in the Contemporary Medical Archives Centre' by Jennifer Smith in Medical History 39, 1995, pp 358-367.

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Copied from the Wellcome Library catalogue by Sarah Drewery.

Rules or conventions:
In compliance with ISAD (G): General International Standard Archival Description - 2nd Edition (1999); UNESCO Thesaurus, December 2001; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:
Jan 2009

Related Subject Search

* To search for other records with similar subjects, tick any subjects above then click "Run New Search"

Related Corporate Name Search

* To search for other records with similar names, tick any names above then click "Run New Search"