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Poverty and Poor Law Reform in Nineteenth Century Britain 1834-1914 - from Chadwick to Boothby David Englander (Longman, 1998). A comprehensive account of poverty and the response to it in Victorian Britain, with an extensive bibliography of useful national, local and regional material.
Report on the Sanitary Conditions of the Labouring Population of Great Britain by Edwin Chadwick, 1842, ed. M.W. Flinn (1965). The full text of Chadwick's report includes his use of extracts from the reports of the local investigators. The book includes an introduction to the Report and an explanation of its significance to public health reform.
The English Town by Mark Girouard (Yale University Press 1995). A colourful illustrated introduction to all aspects of the history of towns with an extensive section on Victorian Britain. (publisher, date)
State, Society and the Poor in Nineteenth Century England by Alan Kidd, (Palgrave, 1999). This book in the Social History in Perspective series focuses as much on self-help, voluntary and charity provision for the poor as it does on assistance provided by the state.
Places to visit
The Public Record Office at Kew is the major repository of Poor Law Union, Commission and Board papers. Local History Libraries are a rich source of many of the records of the 19th century.
Thackray Medical Museum, Beckett Street, Leeds, LS9 7LN, Tel: 0113245 7084 (on the St James's Hospital/Jimmy's site). This museum is housed in the building that was the Leeds Union Workhouse built in 1861. A visit there opens with Robert Baker's description of Leeds in 1842 and an invitation to tour the reconstructed unhealthy and insanitary streets of the town. You are able to choose a character and follow their life expectancy, and to find out about the possible - and impossible - cures for illnesses.
Ripon Workhouse Museum, St Marygate, Ripon, North Yorkshire, HG4 1LX, Tel: 01765 690799. This is believed to be the only workhouse museum in the country, it is established in the Men's Casual Wards of 1877 in the Workhouse buildings. The cells, dayroom and workyard have been refurbished, and with a Hard Times Gallery of images, this museum gives a unique picture of the reality of the Poor Law at work.
The Workhouse, Southwell, Nottinghamshire. (Not yet open, but due to open at Easter 2002.) This workhouse is currently being renovated by the National Trust.