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 From government records to true crime tales, these authoritative talks bring history to life, placing historical documents in societal context.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 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 […]

  • Audio contentTroops travelling to Manchester for review by Lord Kitchener

    Digitising MH 47 the Middlesex military service appeal tribunal

    On the introduction of conscription in 1916, Military Service Tribunals were set up to hear applications and appeals for exemption. Surviving material is fragmented but two complete sets of tribunal papers were retained, including those for the Middlesex Appeal Tribunal. […]

  • Video contentBlack nurse and baby

    Black in the British Frame

    Stephen Bourne shares his memories of growing up in Peckham and of his adopted Aunt Esther, a black Londoner born before the First World War and the subject of his first book. And he talks about how, from an educationally […]

  • Audio contentHO 287/1496 (35)

    Public Cooperation with the Household Expenditure Enquiry, 1953-1954

    The Household Expenditure Enquiry of 1953-54 was the first large-scale enquiry into household expenditure and income in the United Kingdom since the Family Budget Enquiry of 1937-1938. It was intended to cover 20,000 households and the Ministry of Labour and […]

  • Audio contentINF 3/1124

    NDACA – the National Disability Arts Collection and Archive

    In this talk Tony Heaton examines the vision for The National Disability Arts Collection and Archive and the wider historical and social context. Tony Heaton OBE has been involved in the disability arts sector as an artist and activist for […]

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