RepositoryChurch of England Record Centre
Alt Ref NoBSR
Extent2566 files, 4 volumes
TitleBoard for Social Responsibility
DescriptionRecords of the Board for Social Responsibility (BSR) and its sub-committees. In addition to a core of minutes, documents and papers detailing the work and administration of the Board and the sub-committees, the collection also contains a large quantity of files created by Working Parties set up by the Board to investigate specific issues. Within these files can generally be found minutes of meetings, correspondence between members, reports and papers circulated between the members, and background information papers. Also included are the files generated by the Board Secretary and sub-Committee Secretaries who were responsible for gathering background information on subjects the BSR was deliberating on. This has resulted in an extensive collection of files containing correspondence, newspaper clippings, promotional pamphlets, reports and articles. A small number of records of predecessor bodies to the BSR are also present.

Abbreviations used in this catalogue for the Board's sub-committees:

MWC - Moral Welfare Council
CSW - Church of England Council for Social Work
DMSW - Committee for Diocesan Moral and Social Work Council
LSSC - Committee for Liaison with the Social Services
CSWSS - Committee for Social Work and Social Services
SPC - Social Policy Committee
SIC - Social and Industrial Council
IC - Industrial Committee
IAEC - Industrial and Economic Affairs Committee
IAC - International Affairs Committee
IDAC - International and Development Affairs Committee
HAC - Home Affairs Committee
NotesThis catalogue was created following the generous awarding of a grant by the Andrew W Mellon Foundation via the National Cataloguing Grants Programme for Archives.
AppraisalDuplicated material and material found within other Church of England Record Centre collections has been removed and destroyed.
AccrualsNo accruals are expected.
ArrangementLargely retains the arrangement created by an archivist in the 1990s. This follows the departmental structure of the central Board and its sub-committees, and the papers of the Board Secretary and Assistant Secretary. Generally within series files are arranged chronologically. Many topics overlap within the Board and sub-committees and thus files on a subject can be found in more than one place in the catalogue.

Over time the sub-committees of the Board changed name on several occasions. In the catalogue the most recent names have been used at series level, however, at file level the name of the committee at the time of creation has been retained where illustrative to the evolution of the particular committee.

Any changes made to original reference numbers have been recorded in the 'CustodialHistory' field of the record in question.
LanguageEnglish unless otherwise stated.
CreatorNameBoard for Social Responsibility.
AdminHistoryThe Board for Social Responsibility came into being on the 1st January 1958 as an Advisory Committee to the Church Assembly. Aiming 'to promote and co-ordinate the thought and action of the Church in matters affecting family, social and industrial life', it was an amalgamation of two earlier central Church bodies - the Church of England Moral Welfare Council (MWC) and the Social and Industrial Council (SIC). The first meeting of the provisional Board was held on the 15 October 1957 at Church House, Westminster, and by the 3rd meeting the first Chairman, Sir John Wolfenden, was in post.

Meeting regularly throughout 1958 the newly formed Board grappled with defining the actual structure of the Board and the parameters within which it would operate. After much deliberation, the decision was reached to expand on the work of the absorbed Councils, albeit in a more administered and co-ordinated manner. In terms of Industry this development was guided by a BSR Working Party report on 'The Task of the Church in Relation to Work', whilst a survey was carried out to assess the work of MCW with a view of observing more regulated and professional.

Unlike the Board's predecessors a permanent Secretary was appointed, with this viewed by the members as imperative if the Board was to fulfil its obligations (permanent Secretaries of the sub-committees would follow). E.A.O.G Wedell was appointed Secretary in late 1958, with one of his first tasks being to suggest the Board needed to work in six distinct, although related, groups: Sex, Marriage and the Family; The Church and Industry; Economic Policy; Community; The Church and the changing culture pattern; Overseas and International. Wedell left in mid-1960 to be replaced by Edwin Barker, who remained central to the work of the Board until 1972.

The work of the Board was dictated either by outside requests (from Synod, individual Churchmen, Government departments) or its committees deciding that a particular task should be undertaken. Examples of issues investigated by the Board in its formative years include Work, Punishment, Abortion, Sterilization, Race Relations and aspects of Policing, with the Board priding itself on never refusing a request for help from a reputable source and in maintaining a high standard of work on the subjects placed before it. Though not directly responsible to the dioceses, its members were aware of the need for closer links with both diocese and parishes. To facilitate this, the BSR magazine 'Bulletin' was published to provide updates on the work of the Board.

The major investigations undertaken on the Board's behalf were carried out by Working Parties. Generally headed by the BSR Secretary (or BSR sub-committee Secretary) and engaged to concentrate on specific topics for a defined length of time, these parties were not restricted to Anglicans, with the only test of membership being professional excellence and 'men of integrity'. Discussion at Party meetings would centre on material (reports, articles, publications) presented to the members offering a range of arguments and viewpoints. Conclusions would be drawn, and, generally, a report of the findings presented to Synod and published.

Much of the remainder of the work under the remit of the Board was carried out by the Secretary. Tasks included; advising clergy and laity at parish level on matters of social responsibility; accepting requests to provide evidence to central Government, Royal Commissions, departmental and Select Committees; writing reports on issues and briefs for bishops involved with debates in the House of Lords; represent the Church of England on external bodies - the British Council of Churches for example, and encouraging national and international links thereby helping the Church fulfil its pastoral mission. The Board also retained an awareness not to carry out work already being carried out by other bodies, the Social responsibility Department of the British Council of Churches for example.

In 1964 the International Affairs Committee became the third sub-committee of the Board. Later this committee would take under its direction the work of the Council for Commonwealth Settlement (later to become Committee for Overseas Settlement).

Over time the scope and nature of the Board's work altered and expanded to mirror the changing issues faced by society both at home at overseas. As a result investigations into the work of the Board took place in 1973, 1978 and 1993 as part of Synod's policy of examining in depth of the major Advisory Commissions to Synod.

The Board was replaced by Mission and Public Affairs Division in 2003.

(Note: for more information on the work of the sub-committees of the Board see the relevant Administrative Histories in the catalogue entries: BSR/SPC; BSR/IND; BSR/IAC)

Chairmen of the Board:

- Sir John Wolfenden, 1958-1961

- Rt. Revd. Ronald Williams, Bishop of Leicester, 1961-1976

- Rt. Revd. Graham Leonard, Bishop of London, 1976-1982

- Rt. Revd. Hugh Montefiore, Bishop of Birmingham, 1982-1987

- Charles Green (acting Chair), 1987

- Rt. Revd. John Yates, Bishop of Gloucester, 1988-1991

- Rt. Revd. David Stuart Sheppard, Bishop of Liverpool, 1992-1996

- Rt. Revd. Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, 1997-2002

- Rt. Revd. Thomas F. Butler, Bishop of Southwark, 2002 -2003

(note: for a list of Board Secretaries see BSR/SEC)
CustodialHistoryRecords were held by the Board for Social Responsibility, until transfer to the Church of England Record Centre in the 1990s.
AcquisitionRecords acquired through the Board for Social Responsibility.
RelatedMaterialPublications acquired with the BSR archive are held at the Church of England Record Centre but are awaiting inclusion in Lambeth Palace Library's printed books catalogue. The material includes both publications produced by BSR and external publications acquired by the Board for reference.
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