Records of the Ulster Gift Fund, 1938-1947. Formed in September 1939, the Ulster Gift Fund was established by the women of Ulster in an attempt to help ease the suffering of local men engaged in the Second World War. Providing clothing and bandages to military hospitals and woollen comforts to serving troops, the fund was organised by a large number of Ulsterwomen from all parts of the province and from all sections of society. Its membership ran to many thousands co-ordinated into 298 depots with headquarters at 2 Bedford Street, Belfast. In May 1942 a Prisoners-of-War service was instituted and for the next three-and-a-half years the Fund came to be the channel of communication with London on all subjects relevant to prisoners from Northern Ireland. With the end of the war, the balance of the Fund's huge stockpiles of hospital supplies, was gradually distributed throughout civilian hospitals in Northern Ireland and branches of the Red Cross and the balance of comforts likewise issued to men still on active service. The work of the Fund finally ended on 28 February, 1946.
Central to the records in this collection of papers is the minute book of the Central Committee for War Hospital Supply Depots, continued as minutes of the Central Committee of the Ulster Gift Fund (with sub-committee minutes), 1939-1944. Also in the collection are over 2,000 individual sheets giving the personal details of some 2,300 prisoners-of-war with next of kin in Northern Ireland. The details given include the name and address of next of kin, date of capture, location of prison camp, changes of camp with relevant dates, etc. The accurate and assiduous way in which these details were catalogued and indexed by the Fund renders them all the more valuable. In addition, there are financial books and papers concerning the Fund, Oct., 1939-Sept. 1947, including the sums of money raised by the various depots. There are also financial papers and other documentation concerning the Ulster Gift Fund Scholarship which sponsored certain students at Queen's University whose fathers had been on active service during the war. Photographic material includes one showing a visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to the Gift Fund premises in June, 1942. Finally, it should be noted that the Secretary of the Fund, Miss Nancy Kingham, was also transport officer of the Unionist Party, Glengall St. Belfast and this has resulted in the existence in the archive of some election leaflets, circulars and statistics, etc., 1941-70.
The collection is strong on detail in relation to voluntary efforts on behalf of the armed forces during the Second World War. There is much useful information about prisoners-of-war.
c. 3,000 items, 1938-70, comprising a range of documents, volumes, photographs, newspaper cuttings and printed material and occupying 4 PRONI boxes.
See PRONI reference D/912 for catalogue of the papers. The catalogue is available for consultation in PRONI's Publc Search Room.