Social history

Find podcasts relating to social history. From government records to true crime tales, these authoritative talks bring history to life, placing historical documents in societal context.

  • Audio contentAndover Union Workhouse, 1846 (catalogue reference ZPER 34/9)

    Webinar: Why did people fear the Victorian workhouse?

    The workhouse was a major feature in the lives of the poor, whether or not they were ever inmates themselves. This webinar can help you to explore records in The National Archives, showing what life was like inside the workhouse, […]

  • Audio contentFlorence Maybrick 1889 (catalogue reference COPY 1/397)

    Did she kill him? Addiction, adultery and arsenic in Victorian Britain

    Florence Chandler was in her early 20s when she married much older James Maybrick, a Liverpool cotton broker, in 1881. Eight years later, tensions seethed. James was addicted to arsenic. Both were unfaithful. When James died suddenly, Florence was arrested […]

  • Audio contentYacht Marguerite 1884 (catalogue reference COPY 1/370)

    The naval policy of the Free Church of Scotland

    In 1843 the established Church of Scotland suffered a large secession of members who formed the Free Church of Scotland. In the early years of its existence the new church had to overcome a shortage of buildings and clergy, as […]

  • Audio contentLucy Worsley

    Writer of the month: A very British murder

    A Very British Murder is Lucy Worsley’s account of a national obsession – a tale of dark deeds and guilty pleasures. Lucy Worsley is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity which opens up The Tower of London, […]

  • Audio contentThe Foresters Asylum, Bexleyheath, Kent 1890 (catalogue reference COPY 1/401)

    Inconvenient people and how to find them: Tales from the Victorian lunacy panics

    The 19th century saw a series of scandals concerning sane individuals being locked away in lunatic asylums, who were the victims of unscrupulous persons who wanted to be rid of a ‘difficult’ family member, spouse or friend. But who were […]

  • Video contentTranscript of the trial of Charles I (catalogue reference SP 16/517)

    Reluctant regicides? The trial of Charles I revisited

    Dr Andrew Hopper investigates the recent controversy among historians about the nature of the trial of King Charles I. Which individuals drove the king’s trial and what were their aims and goals? Did the king know he was doomed from the […]

  • Audio contentLondon, Western half, by R Horwood, 1799 (catalogue reference MR 1/682)

    Georgian Londoners – the making of a modern city

    Lucy Inglis looks at the making of the London identity, and how it was shaped through the last years of the 17th century, then consolidated throughout the 18th century as London moved towards Enlightenment. Lucy Inglis began the blog GeorgianLondon […]

  • Video contentQuentin wounded, 1894 (catalogue reference COPY 1/111 (204))

    Writer of the month: Human woes – researching violence and pain in the archives

    Joanna Bourke discusses her book What it Means to be Human: Reflections from 1791 to the Present and how she uses original records in her writing. Joanna Bourke is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is […]

  • Audio contentPost Office Tower (now British Telecom Tower), construction (catalogue reference CM 22/195)

    The Post Office Tower: symbol of a new Britain?

    When the Post Office Tower was opened officially on 8 October 1965, it was London’s tallest building. It was also seen as symbolising a new, exciting technological revolution and a new spirit of optimism, successfully capturing the public imagination. In […]

  • Audio contentKarl Marx request for naturalization, notification of refusal (catalogue reference HO 45/9366/36228)

    British nationality: subject or citizen?

    Mark Pearsall looks at the status of immigrants and the concept of nationality over the last 500 years. This talk covers alienage, denization, naturalisation and registration of citizenship and the records of these statuses that survive. This talk also clarifies […]

  • Audio contentOld Somerset House (catalogue reference WORK 30/265 (1 of 2))

    Early civil registration

    Everyone researching 19th century English or Welsh ancestors is familiar with birth, marriage and death certificates, but how much thought do we give to the origins of the General Register Office which was created to look after these records? Not […]

  • Audio contentEvicition of poor Irish families in Leather Lane Holborn,1892 (catalogue reference ZPER 34/100)

    ‘…we may lie and die in a land of plenty…’: The Victorian poor in their own words

    In all but the most specialist accounts of Victorian histories the poor are often represented through generalisations, graphs or summed up in ‘averaging’ paragraphs. More detailed work might look at the experiences of individual poor people through pulling together accounts […]

  • Audio contentFlyer from the Keep Our Secrets Secret campaign (catalogue reference EXT 1/111)

    Spies like us: The secret life of Ernest Oldham

    The security service files held at The National Archives in series KV 2 reveal that many people involved in espionage, like Foreign Office clerk Ernest Oldham, were ordinary folk who entered an extraordinary world by chance – often with tragic […]

  • Audio contentIllustrated London News, New School Room, Boy's Home, Regent's Park Road (catalogue reference ZPER 34/56 (P 349) )

    He is so silly he would rather have a half pence than a shilling: Discovering the history of learning disability

    Simon Jarrett explores the fascinating and little-known world of the history of people with learning disabilities, known variously over time as idiots, imbeciles, defectives and the mentally handicapped. Using court records, government files, parish records, prints, art and even jokes […]

  • Audio contentSummary of debate on homosexual offences

    From deviance to diversity? Finding sexuality and sexual science in the archives

    Dr Lesley Hall, Senior Archivist at the Wellcome Library, examines sources at the Wellcome Library on questions of sexuality from approximately 1800 to the present, with particular reference to the roles of medicine and the psychological sciences. She also considers […]

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