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 youth work and youth ministry


where did Christian youth work (youthwork) come from?
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We examine the emergence of the work and in, particular, focus on some often overlooked traditions and pioneers from the Sunday school and  ragged school movements, and the YMCA. From there, we turn to the emergence of youth's institutes, societies and clubs in the 1860s.

evangelical roots

Robert RaikesRobert Raikes and Sunday schools. The contribution of Robert Raikes and the development of Sunday schooling in Britain.

Hannah More: Sunday schools, education and youth work. Hannah More was initially famous for her play writing and involvement in 'blue stocking' circles. Later her evangelicalism led her to philanthropy, writing popular religious tracts and to pioneering work in Sunday Schools. Here we examine her contribution and her involvement  in the development of youth work. 

Ragged schooling: an exploration of the origins, development and contribution of ragged schooling.

Charles Dickens on Ragged Schooling

George Williams and the YMCA: The early days of the YMCA.

Ellen Ranyard, 'bible women' and informal education: a key figure in the development of district visiting.

the emergence of the club

Club work: a review of the development of club work with young people and adults.

Tom W. H. Pelham, boys' clubs and ragged schooling. A colleague of Quintin Hogg, and writer of the first handbook on lads' club work.

Muscular Christianity. The notion of Muscular Christianity was an important feature of some key discourses around work with boys and men in the second half of the nineteenth century. Here Clifford Putney explores the origin and use of the term.

Emmeline Pethick, Mary Neal and the development of work with young women. The contribution of two important pioneers in girls' club work.

Charles Russell and boys' clubs. A key figure in the promotion and practice of boys' club work.

Henry Solly and the Working Men's Club and Institute Union. Founder of the Club and Institute Union and provider of an important conceptualization of club work,

Maude Stanley, girls' clubs and district visiting. Writer of the first handbook on girls' club work and an important figure in the development of girls' club organization.

Maude Stanley - Girls' Clubs

Arthur Sweatman and the idea of the youth club. Made the initial case for work with youths' in clubs. 

Sweatman: youths' clubs and institutes. A discussion of the early history of youth work can also be found in enter youth workers in the informal education archives.

further reading

For an overview of the Christian youth work literature go to our guide to reading. There is also a guide to reading for general youth work history.

Eagar, W. McG (1953) Making Men. A history of boys clubs and related movements, London: University of London Press. 437 pages. Quite the best historical treatment of UK youth work. Eagar begins by discussing the recognition of adolescence; the development of church and philanthropic concern around youth; the emergence of ragged schooling, clubs, settlements and missions and then charts the history of the boys' clubs movement. There is some material on girl's clubs. He is particularly strong on the idea of the club, linkages into schooling and rescue, and how these related to other Victorian institutions and concerns. Thoroughly recommended.

Percival, A. C. (1951) Youth Will Be Led. The story of the voluntary youth organizations, London: Collins. 249 pages. Useful overview of the development of voluntary work. Percival sets out to 'give an idea of how one impulse after another urged men and women to be come workers in the field, answering the need that seemed most pressing their day; to show how the founders of various associations often "builded better than they knew" and to indicate the characteristics, the problems and the philosophy that lie behind the work being done' (p. 12). Chapters on early history; middle class needs (YMCA & YWCA); the Brigades; the village girls' club (GFS); clubs (lay and church); scouts and guides; 'common interest' associations (young farmer's etc.); federation and partnership; state intervention; present trends; characteristics and motives; conclusion.


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