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Duration 54:28

Our ancestors and the fear of the Victorian workhouse

In 1834 the British government introduced the Poor Law Amendment Act (the introduction of the ‘Workhouse System’). This was one of the most important pieces of 19th century social legislation and it touched the lives of millions of ordinary men, women and children. It was designed as both a national system of welfare for the poor, while at the same time providing a mechanism to deter all but the most impoverished.

This talk concentrates on key aspects of the poor law as well as the sources which:
a) track individual paupers within the system, and
b) illustrate the conditions in which paupers lived.

Dr Paul Carter is the Principal Records Specialist for Domestic Records within the Advice and Records Knowledge Department here at The National Archives. He is also currently a research fellow at the University of Nottingham looking at 19th century poverty. He has provided numerous talks and written extensively for local, family and academic history audiences interested in poverty during the Victorian period.

This talk was sponsored by the Friends of The National Archives.