The Boards of Guardians were established in Berkshire in 1835 to administer the new Poor Law Unions under the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1834. They continued until the County Council assumed these functions through its Public Assistance Committee under the Local Government Act, 1929, in 1930. For Public Assistance records (1930-1948) see C/PA
The parishes in each of the Poor Law Unions are listed in various editions of Kelly's Directories of the county. The Unions near the County boundary included some parishes in the adjoining counties, which are also in those lists
These records were transferred to the Shire Hall in 1943 and were listed in the Guide to the Berkshire Record Office, (1952), when 142 volumes were destroyed, from various classes, leaving representative groups for the several Unions. Further papers were found, possibly transferred to the Council when it took over these functions in 1930, when the Record Office corridor was cleared, c.1966. These have been incorporated into the present catalogue. The arrangement of the catalogue is based on the headings in the Guide, (pp. 17-21). A Handlist of the Records of the Boards of Guardians in the County of Somerset, (1949), classifies this type of record on a different basis but may be found of use; a copy is available in the Record Office
The volumes of records of the Rural Sanitary Authorities, mentioned in the Guide with the poor law records, are catalogue separately, (as R/S), but any records of the school attendance committees have been included here and also the other records noted under "Non Poor Law Duties"