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The Archive Collection of the British and Foreign School Society (BFSS) is probably the most important collection in the world on 19th Century elementary education and teacher training. The origin of the collection dates back to the time of Joseph Lancaster and his establishment of a school at Borough Road, Southwark around the turn of the 19th century.

The Collection contains material concerning Joseph Lancaster’s work in the UK and the American continents. The material documents activities from 1810. The early minute books held, 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.

There are also documents relating to the early activities of the Society as supporters of Lancaster’s ideas. These documents date from 1808 and include financial papers and papers on the Lancasterian Institution and the BFSS prior to 1833.

Other papers contained within the collection are:

Printed sources include: The Annual Reports of the BFSS 1814 to date, the Educational Record 1848-1929.

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

The Archive is supported by a collection of books and pamphlets on education dating from the 19th Century which includes the Salmon collection, a collection of early 19th century books on elementary education. Contained within the Salmon Collection are book written by Joseph Lancaster and Andrew Bell. Works by Pestalozzi, Froebel together with Victorian and Edwardian childrens’ books are also held together with many other publications in the field of education.

Other material held within the archive includes: