Creating a world without war: pacifist approaches to humanitarian relief in the Second World War and after


  • Britain Yearly Meeting

Project summary

This project will preserve and catalogue the archives of the Friends Ambulance Unit (1939–47) and Friends Relief Service (1943–8). These bodies provided an alternative service during and immediately after the Second World War for people opposed to fighting who believed humanitarian aid could heal the wounds of war. The collections provide insight into medical developments brought about by war from the Hadfield Spears medical unit in North Africa to the development of Western medicine in areas of China cut off by the war. 

We will stabilise, repackage and catalogue the collection and make it searchable through our online catalogue. We will promote the collection to the academic community and earmark materials for future digitisation. We will also engage historians, schools and other community groups. 

The collections highlight the unique perspectives of pacifist aid workers, who saw relief work and post-war rehabilitation as implicitly linked to the prevention of war. We hope to broaden access to this collection and support new research.