Looking through a different Lens: Microhistory and the workhouse experience in late nineteenth-century London

Jones, P. (2022) Looking through a different Lens: Microhistory and the workhouse experience in late nineteenth-century London. Journal of Social History, 55(4), pp. 925-947. (doi: 10.1093/jsh/shab078)

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Abstract

This article uses a microhistorical approach to investigate the “workhouse experience” of a single pauper in late nineteenth-century London. Its subject is Frank Burge, a remarkably prolific (though by no means unique) correspondent who wrote several lengthy letters of complaint from the Poplar workhouse to the Local Government Board (the central poor law authority) between 1884 and 1885. It places these letters, and the official responses they stimulated, alongside other public and official documents and uses a blended methodological approach to uncover a rich narrative of hardship, struggle, and personal agency. In doing so, it argues that, in contrast to more orthodox histories of welfare, it is only through this kind of painstaking and sensitive historical reconstruction that we truly can understand the nature, and the legacy, of poverty and the “workhouse experience” on the nineteenth-century poor.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jones, Dr Peter
Authors: Jones, P.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Journal of Social History
Publisher:Oxford University Press
ISSN:0022-4529
ISSN (Online):1527-1897
Published Online:27 December 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Author
First Published:First published in Journal of Social History 55(4): 925-947
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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