The correspondence between Poor Law Unions, Boards of Guardians and the Poor Law Board opens up the lives of many thousands of individuals. It starkly reveals evidence for important historical themes, ranging from the work imposed on workhouse inmates (such as bone-crushing and stone-breaking), via riots inspired by the actions of Guardians, to the standards of medical care and education in the workhouse.
This new guide for local and family historians introduces and explains a set of records which has recently been catalogued and can be downloaded free from the website of The National Archives (TNA MH12). It shows how this correspondence greatly extends our knowledge of life in the workhouse and the attitudes of society to poverty in the mid-nineteenth century. The records of 22 selected Poor Law Unions have been catalogued and digitised, providing 4.6 million words searchable by place, person and subject.
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Author: Paul Carter & Nat Whistance