youth work history

A guide to the literature. Sections on general youth work histories; the history of youth organizations; club and project histories; biographies; and selected social histories. 

In this listing I have organized material around the following headings:

general histories - the main UK texts identified and annotated.

youth organizations - a listing of titles (awaiting annotation). - a listing of titles (awaiting annotation).

club and project histories - a selection of available materials (awaiting annotation).

biographies - explorations of the lives of key figures in the development of youth work (awaiting annotation).

youth work, youth and social history - a selection of some significant texts (awaiting annotation).

General histories

Bunt, S. (1975) Jewish Youth Work. Past, present and future, London: Bedford Square Press. 240 pages. Provides a good introduction to Jewish youth work. While there is substantial material exanmining the then current state of the work, the bulk of the book is devoted to tracing the emergence and development of the work.

Bunt, S. and Gargrave, R. (1980) The Politics of Youth Clubs, Nuneaton: National Association of Youth Clubs. 182 pages. Useful, but oddly constructed review that is stronger on earlier girls and mixed club work.

Davies, B. (1999) From Voluntaryism to Welfare State. A history of the Youth Service in England. Volume 1: 1939 - 1979, and From Thatcherism to New Labour. A history of the Youth Service in England. Volume 2: 1979 - 1999: Leicester: Youth Work Press. A useful review and analysis of the development (and decline) of the youth service with a focus on central organizational change and policy shifts. Good on the national reports etc. and policy shifts but does not bring out the changing shape of practice and the movements at the local level.

Dawes, F. (1975) A Cry from the Streets. The Boys' Club movement in Britain from the 1850s to the present day, Hove: Wayland. 192 pages. Readable overview that helps fill in the gap where Eagar left off (see below).

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.

Evans, W. M. (1965) Young People in Society, Oxford, Blackwell.

Hubery, D. S. (1963) The Emancipation of Youth, London, The Epworth Press.

Nicholls, D. (1997) An Outline History of Youth and Community Work and the Union 1834 - 1997, Birmingham, Pepar Publications. Just what the title says - a brief outline.

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.

Saunders, H. St. George (1949) The Left Handshake. The Boy Scout Movement during the War 1939-1945, London, Collins.

Springhall, J., Fraser, B. and Hoare, M. (1983) Sure and Stedfast. A history of the Boys Brigade 1883 to 1983, London: Collins. 297 pages. Comprehensive history that is not the usual centenary celebration. Rather it examines the development of 'the world's first successful voluntary uniformed organization'. The writers attempt to correct 'false assumptions' about the Brigade's historical links with militarism and evangelicalism. The Brigade's is set in a broader social and historical context. [Out of print]. See also John Springhall's (1977) Youth, Empire and Society. British youth movements, 1883-1940, Beckenham: Croom Helm. 163 pages. This is a useful exploration of the emergence of uniformed youth organizations. There is no separate, substantial academic history of Scouting and Guiding.

Histories of youth organizations

Barne, K. (1946) Here Come the Guides. A history of Guiding (1909-1939) London, Girl Guide Association

Birch, A. E. (1959) The Story of the Boys' Brigade, London, Muller.

Brodhead, F. M. (1975) Social Imperialism and the British Youth Movement (1880-1914, PhD thesis, University of Birmingham.

Brown, A. (1990) London Youth Committee 1940-1990. A commemorative booklet to mark the Committee's 50th anniversary, London, Inner London Education Authority.

Campbell, B. and Campbell, M. (1972) Brathay Hall. The first twenty five years 1947-1972 , Brathay Hall Trust

Church Lads' Brigade (1911) Twentieth Anniversary Souvenir of the Church Lads' Brigade 1891-1911, London, Church Lads' Brigade.

Coburn, O. (1950) The Youth Hostel Story. The first twenty years in England and Wales, London, National Council of Social Service.

Davies, G. (1973) The Story of the Urdd (The Welsh League of Youth), Aberystwyth, Cwmni Urdd Gobaith Cymru.

Frost, D. G. (1984) 50 Years Service. Welsh Association of Youth Clubs Golden Jubilee, Cardiff, Welsh Association of Youth Clubs.

Gillette, A. (1968) One Million Volunteers. The story of volunteer youth service, Harmondsworth, Penguin.

Green, C. (1986) In the Service of Youth. A history of the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services 1936-1986, Leicester, National Council for Voluntary Youth Services.

Heath-Stubbs, M. (1926) Friendship's Highway. Being the history of the Girls' Friendly Society (1875-1925), London, Girls' Friendly Society.

Jones, E. Vaughan (1975) One Hundred Years of the Girls Friendly Society, London, Girls' Friendly Society.

Kadish, S. (1995) 'A Good Jew and a Good Englishman'. The Jewish Lads' and Girls' Brigade 1895 - 1995, London, Vallentine Mitchell.

Lockhead, M. (1949) A Lamp was Lit. A history of the Girls' Guildry, Edinburgh.

Money, A. L. (ed.) (1905) History of the Girls' Friendly Society, London.

Parker, K. V. (1978) A History of the Greater Manchester Youth Association, Manchester, Greter Manchester Youth Association.

Paul, L. (1980) The Early Days of the Woodcraft Folk, London: The Woodcraft Folk. 46 pages.

Philpot, T. (1994) Action for Children. The story of Britain's foremost children's charity, Oxford, Lion.

Rice, J. and Prideaux-Brune, K. (1990) Out of a Hop Loft. Seventy-five years of Toc H, London, Darton, Longman and Todd.

Salt, C. and Wislon, M. (eds.) (1985) We are Of One Blood. Memories of the first 60 years of the Woodcraft Folk, London: Co-operativr Retail Services London Region Member Relations Committee. 52 pages (A4).

Saunders, H. St. George (1949) The Left Handshake. The Boy Scout Movement during the War 1939-1945, London, Collins.

Springhall, J., Fraser, B. and Hoare, M. (1983) Sure and Stedfast. A history of the Boys Brigade 1883 to 1983, London, Collins.

Wainwright, D. (1966) Youth in Action. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme 1956-1966, London, Hutchinson.

Club and project histories

Barr, W., Martin, S.and Rudden, C. (1995) 'We've Got All the Ingredients, But We Don't Know What We Are Cooking'. The Tangents Story, Edinburgh, Scottish Community Education Council

Bibby, C. L. (1974) The Shaftes. The story of the Shaftesbury Boys' Club, Birkenhead, Birkenhead, Shaftesbury Boys' Club

Butterfield, M. (1992) St Micheal's Youth Club 1942-1965. A compilation from contemporary records, diaries, photo albums and reminiscences, Leeds, St Michaels.

Edmondson, W. (1921) Making Rough Places Plain. Fifty years' work of the Manchester and Salford Boys' and Girls' Refuges, London, Sherratt and Hughes.

Levy, N. G. (1968) The West Central Story and Its Founders (1893-1968), London, Leeway Business Services.

Pimlott, J. A. R. (1935) Toynbee Hall. Fifty years of social progress 1884-1934, London, Dent.

Sorin,, G. (1990) The Nurturing Neighbourhood. Jewish community and the Brownsville Boys Club 1940-1990, New York, New York University Press.

Turner, M. L. (1953) Ship Without Sails. An account of the Barge Boys' Club, London, University of London Press.

Wright, R. S. (1969) Our Club. Being a short sketch of the boys' club in the Canongate, Edinburgh, Oliver and Boyd.


Barnardo, Mrs and Marchant, J. (1907) Memoirs of the late Dr Barnardo, London, Hodder and Stoughton

Begbie, H. (1900) The Story of Baden Powell. The wolf that never sleeps, London, Grant Richards.

Binfield, C. (1994) George Williams in Context. A portrait of the founder of the YMCA, Sheffield, Sheffield Academic Press.

Burgess, D. (1996) My Life as a Youth Leader, Drayton, TandA Publishing.

Drewery, M. (1975) Baden-Powell. The man who lived twice, London, Hodder and Stoughton.

Gibbon, F. P. (1934) William Smith of the Boy's Brigade, London, Collins.

Henriques, B. (1937) The Indiscretions of a Warden, London, Methuen.

Hodder Williams, J. E. (1908) The Life of Sir George Williams, London, Hodder and Stoughton.

Hogg, E. M. (1904) Quintin Hogg. A biography (2nd. edn.), London, Archibald Constable and Co.

Peacock, R. S. (1954) Pioneer of Boyhood. The story of Sir William A. Smith, Founder of the Boys' Brigade, London, Boys' Brigade.

Rohrs, H and Tunstall-Behrens, H. (1970) Kurt Hahn. A life span in education and politics, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Wade, E. K. (1943) Baden-Powell, London, Nelson.

Wade, E. K. (1971) Olave Baden-Powell. The authorised biography of the World Chief Guide, London, Hodder and Stoughton.

Wade, E. K. (1957) 27 Years with Baden-Powell, London, Blandford Press.

Youth, youth work and social history

Bean, P. and Melville, J. (1989) Lost Children of the Empire. The untold story of Britain's child migrants, London, Unwin Hyman

Bristow, J. (1991) Empire Boys. Adventure in a man's world, London, Harper Collins.

Dyhouse, C. (1981) Girls Growing Up in Late Victorian and Edwardian England, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Gillis, J. R. (1974 (1981) Youth and History. Tradition and Change in European Age Relations 1770-Present, New York, Academic Press.

Gillis, J. R. (1981) Youth and History (2nd Ed), New York, Academic Press.

Hendrick, H. (1990) Images of Youth. Age, class, and the male youth problem 1880-1920, Oxford, Clarendon Press.

Hendrick, H. (1994) Child Welfare. England 1872-1989, London, Routledge

Laqueur, W. (1962) Young Germany. A history of the German Youth Movement, New York, Basic Books.

Linton, D. S. (1991) 'Who Has the Youth Has the Future'. The campaign to save young workers in Imperial Germany, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Springhall, J. (1977) Youth, Empire and Society. British Youth Movements 1883-1940, Beckenham, Croom Helm.

Stovin, H. (1935) Totem: the exploitation of youth, London, Methuen.

Wagner, G. (1982) Children of Empire, London, Weidenfeld and Nicholson.

© Mark K. Smith. First published July 1996.