BFSS Archive


The Archive of the Educational Opportunity Foundation (formerly the British & Foreign School Society) is probably the most important collection in the world on 19th-century elementary education and teacher training.

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The Archive, which is part of Brunel University London Archives, includes information about the formation of the BFSS and progress of the British Schools, 19th century schools (including overseas) correspondence, Educational Opportunity Foundation/BFSS charities and funds, annual reports, the Educational Record 1848-1929, student application forms, course details, alumni associations, student magazines, photographs, and more.

It is located at the Library (Bannerman Building, Brunel University London, Uxbridge, Middlesex. UB8 3PH) on Brunel University’s Uxbridge Campus.  Access to the archives is by appointment only.  To make an appointment or to enquire about the research service please contact the Archivist at [email protected] or on 01895 265911.

You can find out more about the Archive on the Brunel Archives homepage.  The Archive catalogue is now available online: click here.

The Archive of the BFSS is probably the most important collection in the world on 19th-century elementary education and teacher training.

The Archive holdings include:

  • Material concerning Joseph Lancaster’s work in the UK and American continents from 1810.
  • Early minute books that date from 1808 and record the work of the Trustees of the Royal Lancasterian Institution up to the end of 1813 and subsequently of the British and Foreign School Society from 1814. These books contain reference to financial matters, including difficulties with Lancaster, the management of the Lancasterian Institution, the establishment and progress of the British Schools, and those training with or working for Lancaster.
  • Documents relating to the early activities of the Society as supporters of Lancaster’s ideas, dating from 1808, which include financial papers and papers on the Lancasterian Institution and the BFSS prior to 1833.
  • 19th-century foreign correspondence and pamphlets; these contain the papers on educational work and progress on schooling from around the world.
  • Correspondence regarding individual British schools, reports and school inspection returns from the 19th century.
  • Papers of the Secretaries of the BFSS in the 20th century, concerning BFSS-controlled schools and charitable funds.
  • Printed sources, including The Annual Reports of the BFSS 1814 to date, The Educational Record 1848-1929.

The BFSS Teacher Training College papers comprise material concerning the administration and life of the colleges:

  • Borough Road College (1881-1902) includes papers on the running of the college and student matters.
  • Stockwell College includes papers on the building, the running of the college and former students. These archives date from 1860.
  • Saffron Walden Training College includes 19th and 20th-century documents on the college building; the alumni association; student matters; Governors’ papers; degrees; courses; and other papers associated with the business of the college.
  • There are also records from the period when Borough Road College became amalgamated, along with two other establishments (Maria Grey College and the Acton and Chiswick Polytechnic) into the West London Institute of Higher Education in 1976.
  • There are several series of 19th- and 20th-century minute books and registers associated with the works of the BFSS and the training colleges.

The Archive is supported by a collection of books and pamphlets on education, dating from the 19th century, that includes the Salmon collection of early 19th-century books on elementary education. Contained within the Salmon collection are books written by Joseph Lancaster and Andrew Bell. Works by Pestalozzi and Froebel, together with Victorian and Edwardian children’s books, are also held.

Further notable material held within the Archive:

  • The Joan Cass archive collection of 19th- and 20th-century children’s books.
  • Sporting shields and cups from Borough Road College.

Any enquiries relating to the Archive should be addressed to the BFSS Archivist at [email protected].

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