Voluntary sector history brought to life in new digital archive

A WISERD Research Team comprised of Professor Paul Chaney, Dr Christala Sophocleous and Professor Daniel Wincott has worked with Wales Council for Voluntary Organisations (WCVA) and The National Library of Wales to create a historically significant digital archive of the Annual Reports of WCVA and its predecessor organisations. We are delighted to make this resource publicly and freely available to social historians, researchers and the generally curious.

WCVA has had a long and varied history, from supporting ‘unemployed miners and their wives’ in the 1930s, to developing training in rural communities in the post-war years, establishing issue-specific committees that grew into the independent organisations known today as Disability Wales and Age Cymru; and more recently, formally representing the voluntary sector in partnership with government.

Today, WCVA will be familiar to most civil society organisations in Wales, as both a provider of direct support services to the voluntary sector and as a representative organisation working with government. However, it has played a number of different roles over the years, shifting its focus and direction as needs, policies and, politics have changed. This rich resource traces not only the history of WCVA but offers an invaluable insight into civil society in Wales, and the issues and debates that have shaped it.

The archive offers primary source materials to those interested in a range of issues, including the changing conception of volunteering, understandings and purpose of ‘voluntary work’ and the  relationship between the sector, variously understood as ‘voluntary social services’, ‘voluntary organisations’ or ‘the third sector’, and government and the welfare state.

The archive contains the Annual Reports of WCVA from 1934/35 – 1939/40 when it operated as the Council for Social Services South Wales and Monmouthshire, and each Annual Report continuously for the years 1947 to 2018/19, through three name changes and amendments in focus. Each Annual Report is available as a downloadable single searchable pdf.


Explore the archive