August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online
Anyone studying crime and criminology will be interested to learn that over 115,000 web pages about the Victorian workhouse and poor law records are now available online. thanks to the National Archives.
The collection of records, Living the Poor Life, will help academics answer questions about what life was like for the Victorian poor. The project involved more than 200 volunteers, including local and family historians researching and cataloguing the records of 21 Poor Law Unions, from Berwick upon Tweed in the North to Truro in the South-West.
Dr Paul Carter, Project Director and Principal Modern Records Specialist at The National Archives said:
'The importance of this series of records cannot be overestimated. 'The records cover all aspects of poor relief, but also cover matters such as opposition to the workhouse system, industrial strikes, Chartism, wages, treatment of children and much more. They are essential for any study of Victorian life.'
An unrivalled source of raw history, the records contain individual letters, reports and memos that reveal problems from family breakdown, corruption and blackmail, to fraud, violence and neglect. The records can be very detailed and include letters expressing anger and distress at the plight of unemployed labourers who have been refused relief.
The National Archives is a government department and an executive agency of the Ministry of Justice. It brings together the Public Record Office, Historical Manuscripts Commission, the Office of Public Sector Information and Her Majesty's Stationery Office.