In September of 2012 I was appointed Archivist on a major project to catalogue the records of the Barrow Cadbury Trust held on deposit with Birmingham Archives and Heritage. This post originated following the commissioning of, A History of the Barrow Cadbury Trust: Constancy and Change in Quaker Philanthropy by Samantha Wyndham and Merlin Waterson published earlier this year. The authors recommended to Barrow Cadbury Trustees that the extensive Trust collection would be far more useful to researchers if it were catalogued to archival standards from its existing rough box lists. Trustees readily accepted this advice and agreed to fund a new cataloguing post to improve access to the collection.
The Trust was established by Barrow and Geraldine S. Cadbury in 1920 as a formal extension of their charitable giving. As Quakers the couple felt a social and religious responsibility to improve their society. Arguably it was Geraldine’s close involvement in Birmingham’s Children’s Court that served as a major impetus to create the Trust. Using British Cocoa and Chocolate Company Ltd. shares early Trust grants were made to Friends’ groups, temperance organisations, local hospitals and prisoners’ aid charities. In 1924 a charitable company, the Barrow Cadbury Fund was set-up to allow greater flexibility in the couple’s giving, namely by allowing grants to individuals and organisations other than registered charities.
The records of the collection date from the original Trust deed of 1920 to grant files from the early 21st century. Much of the collection consists of grant documentation, covering a broad range of subjects from race relations in Handsworth to the conditions of British citizens incarcerated in Turkish prisons. The minutes of the Trust and Fund have been scrupulously kept in the finest traditions of Quaker record keeping. Beyond the Trust and Fund a number of related organisations are also represented in the records including the Paul S. Cadbury Trust, the Worgan Trust and the Southfield Trust.
At the moment there are over three hundred boxes of records at Birmingham Archives and Heritage ready for transfer to the new Library of Birmingham over the coming months. Additionally I expect a considerable number of additional records held at the Trust offices to join the collection later this year. Collectively these boxes consist of roughly 3,000 to 3,500 files and volumes. Despite a good start this leaves a good deal of cataloguing work yet to do. I hope to bring you additional blog updates as the project continues. Upon completion this collection will be accessible to researchers at the Library of Birmingham from 2014.
Kevin Roberts, Archivist