Some recommended social histories

We are regularly adding to our stock family and local history books in the Central Auckland Research Centre.

Some books you look at the title and think "not my area of interest/thing"; while others just seem to leap off the shelf at you. Two such books arrived recently which I found to be very interesting and thought they may be of interest to some of you.

Ragged London: the life of London's poor

by Michael Fitzgerald
(The History Press, Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2011)
Call number: 4 ENG LOC LON

I found Ragged London enlightening as it is easy to view London's landscape as it is today and forget that it wasn't always that way - many houses in inner London were demolished in the Vistorian era for the building of railways and the underground system. Until the latter part of the century, there was no onus on the developers to provide substitute housing for those who were displaced as it was also seen as a way of clearing the slums. St Giles-in-the-Fields is used as an example in many instances, but the circumstances could easily apply to rookeries elsewhere in London. A wide range of subjects are covered such as food and drink, love and marriage, home life, work and employment, philanthropy etc. Much of the detail given could probably also apply to any other over crowded sections of other cities in Great Britain and it is therefore worthwhile having a look at this fascinating book.


by Jennifer Newby
(Pen & Sword, Barnsley, Sth Yorkshire, 2011)
Call number: 4 GBR OCC

This book relates to resources to be found in the UK.  It covers domestic service, factory workers, land work, criminals, middle class and aristocracy so virtually all forms of employment for women are covered.  Each chapter gives brief details of the type of work which may be involved and end with sources of relevance to that subject.  There is a good bibliography and a timeline of key events effecting women at the back of the book.  If you are researching any aspect of the life of one of your female ancestors or women in general then this book is well worth reading.

Another title which is borrowable through the library system is:

by Maureen Waller
(Hodder & Stoughton, London, 2000)
Call number: 942.106 WAL

While this relates to London many of the subjects discussed could apply to people anywhere (especially those living in cities) eg childbirth, death, disease, the home, fashion to name a few.
If you have an interest in London, there are a number of borrowable books available through the library. 

A couple which come to mind are written by Jerry White titled: London in the eighteenth century and also London in the nineteenth century.

I could go on but do have a look at the catalogue as you never know what treasures are lurking there.


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