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Archive Collection description: BSS


British Southern Slav Society (formerly British Yugoslav Society)

An online catalogue for this collection is available. Please type BSS into the search field to find the catalogue.

The aim of the British Yugoslav Society (BYS), later to become the British Southern Slav Society (BSSS), was 'the promotion of knowledge and understanding in the United Kingdom of the people, land, languages and cultures of Yugoslavia'. The Society was a non-political and non-governmental registered charity.

The Society first met at the House of Commons (until 1959) and some of the early members were MPs including Mr Ernest Davies (MP), the Chairman. Its founding president was Sir Fitzroy Maclean. Many of the Society's first engagements and events were educational and social, including excursions to Yugoslavia, language courses, wine-tastings and discussion groups, as well as an annual Dinner and Yugoslav National Day celebrations. Over the years, however, the Society increasingly became involved in fundraising, particularly when war broke out in Yugoslavia in 1991. After the collapse of Yugoslavia, the BYS changed its name to the British Southern Slav Society and attempted to continue its policy of being non-divisive, amending its aims to informing about the history, languages and cultures of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.

By 1999, however, the Society considered itself no longer able to continue representing links with all six nations of the former Yugoslavia. In early 1999 the BSSS closed its offices in Weymouth Street in London; and on 8 June 1999 the Society voted to dissolve itself at a Special General Meeting (see correspondence and resolutions regarding dissolution in Box 73). The last Chairman of the BSSS was Colonel Edward Cowan OBE.


The collection consists of papers of the British Yugoslav Society (BYS), which became the British South Slav Society (BSSS). It includes annual reports, membership papers, journals, newsletters, correspondence, publications and documents regarding the administrative history of the Society; as well as papers relating to events, meetings and membership campaigns. Additionally, the collection also contains some of the Society's financial papers including accounts, bank statements and books as well as details of fundraising campaigns.

The collection also contains donated items, for example plates, plaques, a field marker and a 'gusla' (string fiddle).

The papers are in the original order as boxed by the British Southern Slav Society (BSSS).

Please note that the BSSS did not use all box numbers so that some numbers remain unused.

Parts of the collection may have restricted access.

The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Photocopies/photographs/microfilm are supplied for private research only at the Archivist's discretion. Please note that material may be unsuitable for copying on conservation grounds, and that photographs cannot be photocopied in any circumstances. Researchers who wish to publish material must seek copyright permission from the copyright owner.

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This page last modified Saturday 31 October 2009.


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