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Christmas 2009
Christmas 2009

Foundation in London

Photo of William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army

The Salvation Army was founded in the slums of London in 1865 by former Methodist minister, William Booth.

The name 'The Salvation Army' was adopted in 1878 and formally adopted by deed poll in 1880.

Read about The Salvation Army's origin in London or use the text box at the right for a snapshot of the content...

A former Methodist minister, William Booth, founded The Salvation Army in the slums of London during 1865. Booth wanted to make the church more accessible to the whole community at a time when many poor and working class people were excluded from the churches. Originally known as the Christian Mission, the name 'The Salvation Army' was adopted in 1878 and since then the organisation's structure has been based on military lines.

Initially Booth's Mission intended to gather the poverty stricken multitudes of London's East End and link them up with existing churches. However, such people were regarded as outcasts and not welcomed by the wealthy and respectable church members of the day. As a result, Booth was forced to provide a more permanent organisation for the ongoing spiritual care of his converts.

Booth's concern for the destitute masses of England was not only spiritual.The more he learned of the plight of the thousands spurned by Britain's industrial revolution, the more determined he was to see lasting social change.

From the Army's earliest days, various social programs grew up alongside the mission's spiritual ministry, including food shops, shelters, and homes for 'fallen' girls. However, these were just the first elements in a broad scheme.In the early 1890s, Booth published In Darkest England - and the Way Out, an ambitious and complex plan to deliver England from its social woes.Soon Booth opened labor exchange services, which would place thousands of unemployed persons in jobs.Discovering that some 9,000 people dropped from sight in London each year, he established a missing persons bureau.He dreamt of a farm colony wherethe unemployedcould be given honest labour and pleasant surroundings. He wanted to establish a poor man's bank, he offered legal aid to the destitute; and he envisaged an emigration scheme that would develop a new overseas colony. During the 1890s, the Army established an employment bureau and helped find jobs for the unemployed. Work was also provided at Salvation Army salvage depots and rescue farms. From this began a social service network that continues today in 108 countries of the world.

For further information

See William & Catherine Booth pages

The Salvation Army International Heritage Centre website at

See our Further Reading list

Contact The Salvation Army Heritage Centre in Sydney or Melbourne.

Contact Salvationist Supplies to find out about further publications.