British and Foreign School Society (BFSS) Archive

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.

In 1789 Joseph Lancaster opened a non-denominational school in Borough Road, Southwark, offering education using the monitorial system with older children teaching the younger ones.  From this developed the British and Foreign School Society, hundreds of British schools in England, Wales and the Commonwealth, and the teacher training colleges Borough Road (which became part of the West London Institute in 1976 and Brunel University in 1995), Stockwell, Saffron Walden, Darlington and Swansea.

Holdings in brief

The formation of the BFSS, minute books from 1808, financial documents, establishment and progress of the British Schools, Newcastle Commission returns from British Schools, 19th century schools (including overseas) correspondence, BFSS charities and funds, annual reports, the Educational Record 1848-1929.  BFSS College papers including annual reports, student application forms and references, registers, documents on course details, alumni associations, student magazines, photographs.  NB Swansea College papers are at Swansea Metropolitan University and Darlington's are at Durham Record Office.

Books and pamphlets on education dating from the 19th century including works by Lancaster, Bell, Pestalozzi and Froebel.  Victorian and Edwardian children's books.

Further information

Further detailed information on the BFSS and its Colleges can be found below: 

BFSS Information Sheet

Borough Road College Information Sheet

Stockwell College Information Sheet

Saffron Walden Information Sheet


We have transcribed, with the help of our volunteers, a number of lists and registers available below:

Transcript of the BFSS British Schools List 1897

Transcript of the First Register of Female Students at Borough Road College 1806-1827

Transcript of the First Register of Male Students at Borough Road College 1804-1821

Transcript of the list of Male Students at Borough Road College 1810-1916

Transcript of the list of Female Students at Borough Road College and Stockwell College 1813 - 1916

BFSS Archives Annual Reports

Each year the archives produce a report for the BFSS on our activities for the preceding year and what we have to look forward to in the forthcoming year:

2014 BFSS Archives Annual Report

2015 BFSS Archives Annual Report 

2016 BFSS Archives Annual Report 

2017 BFSS Archives Annual Report


Page last updated: Monday 22 May 2017