The University of Liverpool



Josephine Elizabeth Butler (1828-1906)

One of the most awful difficulties we have met with in the question of prostitution (of both men and women) is the fact that men, by their laws and customs, have welded into a compact mass, as a class apart, "fallen women" as if they were a race of beings distinct and apart, and to be dealt with as such (Josephine Butler, letter of 28 Feb. 1898)

Josephine Butler, signed photograph of bust by Munro

Josephine Butler, signed photo of Munro bust

In 1866, following his appointment as Principal of Liverpool College, the Butlers moved to Liverpool, where Josephine became President of the North of England Council for the Promotion of Higher Education of Women. In 1869, the Ladies' National Association for the repeal of the Contagious Diseases Acts (LNA) was founded, and, under Josephine Butler's leadership, led the campaign which resulted in the repeal of the Acts in 1886. She was also a major figure in the British, Continental and General Federation (later the International Federation for the Abolition of State Regulation of Vice), founded in 1875.

The fourth daughter of the internationally-renowned agricultural expert, John Grey of Dilston, Josephine Butler grew up in an intellectual, political and social milieu which helped to form her strong religious convictions and social conscience. Her husband, the Rev. George Butler, a considerable scholar in his own right, supported his wife's campaigning work at the expense of his own career.

Josephine Butler, photograph by Elliott & Fry, 1900

Josephine Butler, photo 1900

Her independent views on Irish Home Rule, the Boer War, women's suffrage, slavery and other issues found public expression through her many books, pamphlets, periodical contributions and letters to the Press. In Liverpool, her example was recognised within a few years of her death with her inclusion in the Noble Women windows in the Anglican Cathedral and the naming of the Josephine Butler Memorial House. Her commemoration in the Anglican Church Calendar (in which she is unique amongst post-Reformation woman) was moved to the liturgically more significant date of May 30 (her baptismal anniversary) as recently as 1996

Josephine Butler Memorial House (1920-1976)

in the maintenance and conduct of the Memorial House the cardinal principles of the International Abolitionist Federation as laid down by its Founder Josephine Butler, shall be consistently promulgated and maintained and the curriculum of the Memorial House shall always include definite teaching with reference to the furtherance of Abolitionist principles (JBMH Trust Deed)

Josephine Butler Memorial House, lecture room at 34, Alexandra Drive

Josephine Butler Memorial House, lecture room at 34 Alexandra Drive

The Josephine Butler Memorial House, Liverpool, affiliated to the Anglican Archbishops' Advisory Board for Preventive and Rescue Work, was set up in 1920 as a training house for Social Purity work, taking its inspiration from Josephine Butler's vision of the need and lack of women workers in Abolitionist work. It offered, from a succession of premises in the city, one year social work courses, or the two year full Social Science course of the University of Liverpool, with which the House was always closely associated. Continuous financial struggles and the gradual evolution of professional social services made the House (later Josephine Butler College) unviable. The last students finished their courses in 1972.



My husband and I were singularly united through all our life. We worked together ... and therefore it was impossible for me to write a life of him, without its being, in a measure, an autobiography (Letter to Fanny Forsaith, 5 March 1903)

Works by Josephine Butler

There is a new edition of "Who's Who" - in wch I see put down a list of things I have written, & it appals me even to read it! No wonder I am tired (Letter to Rhoda Butler, 30 Oct. 1901)

Call marks are given only for items held by the University of Liverpool library, many of which bear inscriptions from Josephine Butler to her family and friends.

1868 The Education and Employment of Women (Macmillan)

1869 Woman's Work and Woman's Culture (Macmillan) LUL copy held at: SPEC Simey 167

Memoir of John Grey of Dilston (Edinburgh: Edmonston & Douglas) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A15

1870 An appeal to the people of England on the recognition and superintendence of prostitution by governments (Nottingham: Banks)

On the moral reclaimability of prostitutes (National Association) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC14)

The Duty of Women (Carlisle: Hudson Scott)

1871Sursum Corda (Liverpool: Brakell) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC18)

The constitutional iniquity of the Contagious Diseases Acts (Bradford)

Address in Craigie Hall, Edinburgh (Ireland, Manchester) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC2)

Address at Croydon (National Association) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC1)

Letter to the Order of Good Templars (Liverpool: Brakell)

Vox Populi (Liverpool: Brakell)LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC20)

The Constitution Violated (Edinburgh: Edmonston & Douglas)LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A2

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1872 The New Era (Liverpool: Brakell)

Letter on the subject of Mr Bruce's bill (Liverpool: Brakell)

A few words addressed to true-hearted women

1873 Legislative restrictions on the industry of women (Personal Rights Association)

Letter to a friend on a recent division in the House of Commons (Liverpool: Brakell)

1874 Speech at Bristol to the Vigilance Association (F. Bell & Co.)

Some Thoughts on the Present Aspect of the Crusade (Liverpool: Brakell)

1875 Letter to the Ladies' National Association (Liverpool: Brakell)

Une voix dans le désert (Paris, Neuchâtel)

1876 State regulation of vice

The Hour Before the Dawn (Trübner) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC8)

2nd ed., 1882 LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC9)

Grave words to electors and non-electors, and moral reformers, on immoral and unjust legislation (National Association) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC7)

1877 Discours prononcé à l'Hôtel Wagram (Paris)

Discours prononcé dans la salle de la rue d'Arras (Paris)

Discours prononcé dans la Chapelle Malesherbes (Paris)

Discours prononcé dans la salle de la Redoute (Paris)

The Paris of regulated vice (Methodist Press)

Adieux à Genève (Geneva)

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1878 Ceux qui prient (Paris)

Catherine of Siena (Dyer Bros) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A1

3rd ed., 1894) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A16

1879 Government by Police (Dyer Bros) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A3

Souvenir des Réunions à Vevey (Fontaines)

1880 Deposition Regarding Treatment of English Girls in Immoral Houses in Brussels (Printed for private circulation) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC5)

Extrait d'une lettre à l'occasion des investigations de M.X. à Bruxelles (Neuchâtel)

Address at the tenth anniversary of the Ladies' National Association (Liverpool: Brakell)

1881 A call to action (Birmingham: Hudson) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC4)

Address at the conference of women at Geneva (Hazell, Watson & Viney)

Letter to the Mothers of England (Liverpool: Brakell) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC12) note on cover (in JEB's hand?) “2ndedition”

Lettre d'une mère (Neuchâtel)

1882 Lettre à ses amis et compagnons d'oeuvre (Neuchâtel)

Life of Jean Frédéric Oberlin (Religious Tract Society) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A7

Discours d'adieux à la conférence de Neuchâtel (Neuchâtel)

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1883 The Salvation Army in Switzerland (Dyer Bros)

Dangers of constructive legislation in matters of purity (Bristol: Arrowsmith)

The Bright Side of the Question (Bristol: Arrowsmith) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC3)

Questions morales (Lausanne)

Le point de jour: discours à la Haye (Neuchâtel)

Allocution aux femmes de gènes (Neuchâtel)

1885 The Principles of the Abolitionists (Dyer Bros)

The Work of the Federation (Federation Offices)

Marion, histoire véritable (Neuchâtel)

1886 Rebecca Jarrett (Morgan & Scott)

L'Oeuvre du relèvement moral (Geneva)

A Grave Question (Dyer)

Simple words for Simple Folk, about the Repeal of the CD Acts (Arrowsmith)

1887 Our christianity tested by the Irish Question (Fisher, Unwin) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC13)

The Revival and Extension of the Abolitionist Cause (Winchester: Doswell)

1888 Letter to the International Convention of Women at Washington (Morgan & Scott)

Zwei Vorträge über das Staatliche Regulierte Laster (Mülheim)

The Dawn, quarterly (Burfoot, 1888-1896)

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1892 Women's place in church work Review of the Churches

Recollections of George Butler (Bristol: Arrowsmith) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A10

Letter to the World's Women's Christian Temperance union (Bristol)

1893 St Agnes (J. Cox) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC16 and 16a). Two copies in different formats

The Present Aspect of the Abolitionist Cause in relation to British India (Federation Offices)

1894 The Lady of Shunem (Horace Marshall)

1895 The constitutional iniquity (Federation Offices)

Lettre à Madame Duplan (Lausanne)

1896 Two letters of earnest appeal and warning (Federation Offices)

A Doomed Iniquity (Federation Offices) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC6)

Address to the Ladies' National Association (Bristol: Arrowsmith)

Personal Reminiscences of a Great Crusade (Horace Marshall) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A9 and A14. Also typescript index at B(PC10)

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1897 Truth Before Everything (Dyer Bros) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC19 and 19a)

Letter to a friend on the renewed conflict on state regulation of vice in India (Federation Offices) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC11)

1898 Some Lessons from Contemporary History (Friends' Association)

The Stormbell, monthly (Burfoot, 1898-1900) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A13

Prophets and Prophetesses (Newcastle: Mawson LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC15)

1900 Native Races and the War (Gay & Bird) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A17

Silent Victories (Burfoot) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler B(PC17)

1901 In Memoriam Harriet Meuricoffre (Horace Marshall) LUL copy held at: SPEC Butler A4

1903 The morning cometh (Newcastle: Grierson)

Links to related collections

The Women's Library, London Metropolitan University

The Josephine Butler Society Library. Material relating specifically to Josephine Butler and her family includes correspondence, drawings, water-colours and photographs. The Library's collection of books, pamphlets, campaign publicity, archival material and artefacts is the major UK resource for the study of nineteenth - mid twentieth century sexuality and public morality, particularly from feminist viewpoints

Northumberland County Record Office

Grey family archive (ZBU.E2: papers of the Revd George Butler and ZBU.E3: papers of Josephine E. Butler, including diaries and letters)

Leeds University Library

Holds 28 letters from Josephine Butler

University of St Andrews Library

MSS 30, 017-30, 118. An album of 102 items, mostly letters addressed to Josephine Butler or her husband, the Revd George Butler from important public figures concerned with the social reform movement

Balliol College, Oxford

The Jowett Papers. There is a published catalogue of the Jowett collection:

The Jowett Papers, by Robin Darwall-Smith, Oxford: Balliol College, 1993 ISBN 0 9512569 3 9. The items relating to Josephine Butler in the Jowett Papers are as follows:

I E22/2 A collection of reminiscences of Jowett sent to Abbott and Campbell during preparation of The Life and Letters of Benjamin Jowett, 1897. Writers include Josephine Butler

I F11/26 Copies of letters from Jowett to various correspondents. Those to the Duchess of Bedford include discussions on common friends (e.g. Josephine Butler)

III N263, 275 Letters from Jowett to Florence Nightingale, containing references to Josephine Butler ([17 Oct. 1869]; 30 Jan. 1870)

Readers wishing to consult the Jowett Papers should apply in writing to The Librarian, Balliol College, Oxford OX1 3BJ, or by email to It is regrettted that photocopies cannot be supplied.

National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside (NMGM), Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Bust and plaster relief of Josephine E. Butler by Alexander Munro (1825-1871), probably after 1852

National Portrait Gallery, London

Portrait of Josephine E. Butler by G.F. Watts, 1895

Church House

Holds student records relating to Josephine Butler Memorial House

The Anglican Cathedral of Liverpool

Holds much of the former library of Josephine Butler Memorial House

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Created and maintained by Katy Hooper. Last revised 30 September 2004.