Archives - The Imperial War Museum

(A.T.S. Remembered)

The Imperial War Museum was established in 1917 during the Great War to record the story of that conflict and the contributions made by the people of the Empire. The Museum and its governing body, the Board of Trustees, were formally established by Act of Parliament in 1920, when the Museum opened at Crystal Palace. In 1936 it was reopened in the central portion of the former Bethlem Royal Hospital in Lambeth Road, Southwark where it remains.

At the time of its establishment a sub-committee was set up by the Board of Trustees specifically to collect materials relating to women during the period of war. Consequently the Museum has an impressive collection of materials relating to the First World War.

In 1939 the Trustees' remit was extended to include the Second World War and in 1953 the terms of reference were further expanded to include all military operations in which British or Commonwealth forces have been involved since August 1914. The Imperial War Museum is thus the national museum of twentieth century conflict. It illustrates and records all aspects of modern war, and of the individual's experience of war, whether allied or enemy, service or civilian, military or political, social or cultural. Its role embraces the causes, course and consequences of conflict and it has an essentially educational purpose.

The Imperial War Museum is therefore in addition to its conventional museum role a major national art gallery, a major national archive of written and audio-visual records, and a research centre. Its activities include display, education, publishing, research, trading, conferences, as well as the acquisition, documentation, study and conservation of collections.

The IWM also operates Collections Online where you can access catalogues from their website. If you want to browse there are short essays on major historical themes which lead you to selected highlights from all the collections. The present database covers the collections of documents, film and sound in detail; other collections will be added in 2003/04.

I.W.M. - Department of Documents

The Imperial War Museumís Department of Documents holds collections which consist primarily of personal papers. The Department holds a considerable number of documents relating to the A.T.S. including letters, diaries and memoirs. The material is available for consultation in the Museum's reading room by appointment.

I.W.M. - Department of Printed Books

This Museum's Department of Printed Books also holds a number of detailed reference works on the A.T.S.:

I.W.M. - Department of Film Archives

The Imperial War Museum Film and Video Archive holds a range of films that cover the role of the Auxiliary Territorial Service during the Second World War. This material predominantly consists of unedited actual live, shot by the military, newsreel film, and shorts sponsored by the Ministry of Information or War Office. This can be viewed by mutually convenient appointment although it is recommended that at least 7 days notice is given of the intention to visit.

The IWM Film and Video Archive is based at the All Saints Annexe, Austral Street, London SE11 4SJ.

The Imperial War Museum is situated at:

Lambeth Road,
Tel: 020 7416 5342

and can be contacted at the website address

Imperial War Museum

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