Ref NoMS 603
TitleRecords of the Birmingham Association for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child
Dateearly 1900s - 1980
LevelCollection
DescriptionThe surviving records of the Birmingham Association for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child described in this catalogue include:

- an incomplete sequence of published annual reports covering the period 1906 - 1979 which describe the aims, objectives and activities of the organisation, its key officers and subscribers.

- four committee minute books covering the period 1948 - 1976

- case worker's notebooks and case books covering 1952 - 1969 and case worker's monthly reports covering the period 1954 - 1980. These give details of individual cases of unmarried mothers assisted by the association.

- photographs of Miss Helen Newill, first Chairman of the association, and Mrs. Hugh Smith, first Treasurer.
Extent0.24
FormatCubic metres
AccessStatusPartially closed (Content)
AccessConditionsSome records within the collection contain sensitive personal information about living individuals. Access restrictions have been placed on these records in order to comply with the Data Protection Act 1998. Access restrictions have been indicated in each item description.
AdminHistoryThe Birmingham Association for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child was founded in October 1906 as 'The Association for the Rescue and Training of Young Women, Birmingham and District'.

The association was established by members of 'The Birmingham Workhouse Magdalen Charity'. This charity consisted of women, primarily guardians of the poor, who visited unmarried mothers admitted to the workhouses of the Aston, Birmingham and Kings Norton Poor Law Unions. In 1906 these members called a meeting to consider establishing a home where unmarried mothers might reside for a short time with their baby and receive help and guidance. The home, known as Hope Lodge, opened on 16th October 1906 at premises in Athol House, Ladywood Road. Miss Helen Newill was the first President of the association.

In 1913 the home moved to 134 Heathfield Road, Handsworth. The annual report for 1914 (MS 603/3/1/6) describes two branches of work being undertaken by the organisation.
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Firstly the association ran the home Hope Lodge 'where young unmarried mothers are received, both before and after the birth of their babies, trained in domestic work and the care of children, and assisted to make a fresh start in life.'

Secondly the association assisted with outside cases, described in the annual report as 'the care of the unmarried mothers reported to our visitors to the Maternity Wards of the Workhouse Infirmaries, who cannot be admitted to the Home. These, after leaving the Infirmary return to friends or to lodgings, and often sorely need the help and advice of Miss Taylor, our outside worker.' The outside worker visited mothers in the workhouse infirmaries, their homes or lodgings. In particular the association provided mothers with legal advice and help in bringing cases for affiliation orders before the courts. By 1925 the association had become affiliated to the National Council for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child.

In 1919, Hope Lodge moved again, this time to the former Magdalen Society home 'Kirkholme' at Vernon Road, Edgbaston. The trustees of 'Kirkholme' believed that the work of Hope Lodge was in line with the wishes of the founder of the Magdalen home, Mrs Elmira Lloyd, and so the organisations were amalgamated. The association was re-named 'The Birmingham Association for Unmarried Mothers and their Babies'.

In 1921, the association opened a second home 'The Day Servant's Hostel' at 276 Monument Road, Edgbaston, later known as 'The Hostel'. Unmarried mothers could be admitted to the hostel after the birth of their babies and whilst at the hostel were able to go out to work. Whilst a branch of the Birmingham Association for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child, the hostel produced a separate set of annual reports (MS 603/3/2). The 44th annual report of the association (1948-49) reports the amalgamation of The Hostel and Hope Lodge at the Hope Lodge premises (MS 603/3/1/38). The Hostel closed in June 1948.

The original funding for the association's work was based on trusts, legacies and subscriptions; however by 1942 the balance sheets included with the annual reports indicate that a large proportion of the association's income was made up of grants from Birmingham City Council Public Health department (MS 603/3/1/32).

Hope Lodge closed in September 1951 and after this date the association concentrated on providing assistance to unmarried mothers and their babies in a non-residential capacity. The 52nd annual report for 1956-57 reports that 'The Association is formed to assist unmarried mothers, and aims at strengthening the sense of responsibility of the parent for the child. The Central Case Committee provides advice and legal help for affiliation, etc., and for visits by the worker to girls in hospitals or their own home.' The 52nd annual report for 1956-57 describes the activities of Mrs. I.V. Miles the main case officer employed by the association. 'Mrs. Miles… does all the major interviewing and prepares the many court cases. Knowing that the work of the office is still going on, she spends two complete mornings a week at the Law Courts'.

The old Hope Lodge premises were sold in October 1952. After this date the association had office premises at 42 & 45 Queen's College Chambers, Paradise Street, Birmingham. In 1965 the offices moved to Dr. Johnson House in Colmore Circus.

During this period the association's case work continued and case officers often worked in conjunction with other welfare organisations, for example the local Public Health department, the Lyncroft and Beechcroft (Belle Walk) Homes and the Anglican and Roman Catholic diocese welfare organisations.

Annual reports from the 1970s report a decline in the number of mothers requiring assistance from the association due to improvements in social services provision from the local authority. By 1984 balance sheets (see Birmingham Central Library reference stock L41.35) show that the association was no longer in receipt of funding from the City Council. A letter included with the 1983 balance sheet sent to subscribers indicates that the type of assistance being provided to mothers was by this date limited to small grants of money to help them buy items needed for the care of their child, such as a heater or shoes.
ArrangementMS 603 Records of the Birmingham Association for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child, 1913 - 1980

MS 603/1 Committee minute books
MS 603/2 Committee attendance books
MS 603/3 Annual reports
MS 603/4 Records relating to Annual General Meetings
MS 603/5 Financial records
MS 603/6 Case books
MS 603/7 Case worker's notebooks
MS 603/8 Case worker's monthly reports
MS 603/9 Printed matter
MS 603/10 Photographs
MS 603/11 Internal Administration
Related MaterialCopies of annual reports and accounts for 1919 - 1984 can be found in Birmingham Central Library reference stock reference L41.35.
CreatorNameBirmingham Association for the Unmarried Mother and Her Child
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