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History in Focus

the guide to historical resources • Issue 14: Welfare •


Medical assistants bathing infants in Children's Asylum in the City of Arkhangel'sk, 1915. Courtesy of Michael Zolotarev Collection, Moscow

Medical assistants bathing infants in Children's Asylum in the City of Arkhangel'sk, 1915.
Courtesy of Michael Zolotarev Collection, Moscow

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The following sites are a small sample of the websites on welfare history that are available. Museums and archives also have websites which may contain useful information. You will find a listing of these on the more resources page. You can also use intute to locate other websites.

State welfare and social policy

National Digital Archive of Datasets

The website of the UK National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD) offers free access to a large amount of archived digital data from UK government departments and agencies. The information consists of both data which has been prepared or stored on computer and associated paper documents which have been scanned. It is aimed at 'all those with an interest in records of twentieth century government decision making and planning, including researchers, social historians and historians of computing'. The datasets currently available include the following for maritime issues for example: Coast Protection Survey of England; the Oil and Gas Directorate, North Sea Geographical Information System; and the Welsh Office's Coastal Survey for Wales. NDAD is run by the University of London Computer Centre and the University of London Library on behalf of The National Archives. NDAD does not hold records related to family history.

(Record courtesy of intute.)

Social policy pamphlets at the LSE

The London School of Economics (LSE) has been building its library of social policy documents since 1896. The collection consists mostly of ephemera published by pressure groups, political parties, and trades unions. The Library tries to collect opinions and propaganda from all points of view, no matter how extreme. The historical focus of the collection is on the nineteenth and early twentieth century because of connections with the Webbs and other Fabian Society members, although the archive is still added to up to the present day. Most of the contents of the library have been digitised and may be accessed over the internet via Adobe Acrobat. The site divides many of its online primary texts into themes. These themes are: health; housing; pensions; the poor laws and the welfare state; and unemployment insurance. Other documents may be accessed via a more comprehensive search process. The digitisation programme was funded by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). This resource is also described by the JISC Resource Guide for the Arts and Humanities.

(Record courtesy of intute.)

Citizenship: a history of people, rights and power in Britain

Citizenship - a history of people, rights and power in Britain is an online exhibition by The National Archives, created in partnership with the House of Lords Record Office and funded by the New Opportunities Fund. This impressive website provides detailed material on the shaping of the relationship between the people and the state, tracing the development of citizenship in Britain from 1066 to 2003. The content is divided into four main chronological chapters, beginning with Citizen or Subject?, which looks at England, Wales and Scotland from 1066 to 1603. It covers key documents including the Domesday Book and Magna Carta and events such as the Peasants Revolt. The Rise of Parliament 1625-1789, considers British power and politics and includes information on the Levellers, the Highland clearances and the links between England, Scotland and Wales. The Struggle for Democracy, 1789-1906, concentrates on late Georgian and Victorian Britain, with topics such as John Lovell and the People's Charter, the slave trade, Poor Law reform and the effects of the French Revolution. Brave New World considers the twentieth century, particularly post Second World War changes such as immigration, the Beveridge Report and the welfare state, Edward Heath and British relations with Europe. A case study on Birmingham investigates how national politics and events affected citizenship in this city. Each topic contains a good selection of digitised primary source material and various avenues of further investigation. There are a number of fun quizzes and games, which require a Flash download.

(Record courtesy of intute.)

London Metropolitan Archives

The London Metropolitan Archives website provides a variety of information about the facilities that they have to offer. There is some general information about the London Metropolitan Archives and a section with the latest news. Details are given on the location, opening hours, enquiry service and reprographics service. Information is provided on how to make the most of a visit to the archive and also of their family research service. Information leaflets on sources available from the London Metropolitan Archives can be downloaded (in PDF) from the site. These include leaflets on family history, history of nursing, patient records in London hospital and Middlesex Deeds Registry. The site does not provide an online catalogue but their records can be accessed via the Access to Archives site.

(Record courtesy of intute.)

American Social Hygiene Posters

American Social Hygiene Posters is an online database of public health poster images dated between 1910 and 1970 illustrating various US government edicts to the public over issues of morality, heath and hygiene. The posters are taken from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities University Libraries Social Welfare History Archives collection. The images can by searched by keyword, title, subject or ID, or browsed by period, which covers 1910 to the 1950s, or by subject. Amongst the subjects covered are dance, family health, friendship, health, health education, home economics, hygiene, mental health, military education, physical fitness, prostitution, reproduction, sexual abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases, women, and health posters from the First and Second World Wars. There are also posters of Robert Falcon Scott, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt as examples of healthy role models. Each poster image is accompanied by record information such as when it was published, where it is held, and its title and identifier.

(Record courtesy of intute.)

Human Rights

Human Rights is an online exhibition from The National Archives, which traces the development of rights in Great Britain from the granting of Magna Carta in 1215 to the development of the welfare state in 1945. This interesting and accessible website will be useful for anyone studying the development of rights, for example in relation to voting, education, trade unions or women. Human Rights is attractively illustrated with digitised images of documents held at The National Archives, including the 1225 version of Magna Carta, a poster of the 'Peterloo Massacre' of 1819 and a leaflet describing the force feeding of Suffragettes in 1909. Where necessary, a full English transcription of the document is provided. The website is divided into six sections, each covering a specific time period, with its own timeline and images. There is a glossary of terms used and an index to the manuscripts.

(Record courtesy of intute.)

E-Library for Global Welfare

The E-Library is part of the E-learning Global Welfare project, a collaborative effort of academics from Open University, University of Sheffield, University of Bath and STAKES Finland. Visitors can access a range of information, from World Health reports to photos and archived video footage. The basic search facility may take a number of attempts to find what you're looing for, but the Advanced Filter option allows you to search by date, geographic region, resource type or policy area.

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Occupational welfare

Caring on the Home Front

St John Ambulance and The British Red Cross have collaborated to present a history of their work on the home front during World War Two. The website Caring on the Home Front uses oral history to illustrate how volunteers who joined the Joint War Organisation (JWO) - a partnership between St John's and The Red Cross - provided a wide range of essential medical and welfare services for civilians, prisoners of war, soldiers on leave, wounded soldiers, and victims of air raids. Brief, illustrated, historical background notes are given on these topics, as well as video (in winamp media format) and audio clips (mp3 format), to supplement the transcripts of the oral history interviews of people who volunteered with the two organisations during the Second World War. For teachers there is also an online collection of classroom ideas, resources and project sheets for key stages 2 and 3.

(Record courtesy of intute.)

Merchant Navy Association

The aim of the Merchant Navy Association (MNA) is to gain recognition for the part played by the Merchant Navy in the defence and development of the United Kingdom. Its aims are to preserve the memory of those seafarers that have died in the service of their country and foster pride in national maritime heritage. It provides facilities for welfare, and keeps shipmates in touch with one another. As well as information about the society there is a careers page and a fee charging research service.

(Record courtesy of intute.)

The Workhouse Website

This website brings together a wide variety of primary information, illuminating a crucial area of working class history. The Poor Law, workhouse locations and daily life are explored in detail and there is a wealth of primary material for researchers to draw upon - everything from broadside ballads to 'Bathing Rules' from 1910. There are also links to archival resources and other sites of interest, as well as a timeline and comprehensive reading list.

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Methods of Sidgwick

Henry Sidgwick (1838-1900) was a Victorian academic, and in many ways embodied the spirit of the Victorian period with his constant search for knowledge and breadth of study he embraced. He studied philosophy, religion, politics, mathematics and ethics, adopting John Stuart Mill's ideas about utilitarianism, developing formulas for social welfare, and promoting women's education. This website contains e-texts of his most important works: The Elements of Politics, The Methods of Ethics, Practical Ethics, and The Principle of Political Economy. Each chapter is organised by sections that are indicated by brief descriptions. This format makes the texts searchable and gives easy access. There is a secondary source by David Braybrooke entitled 'Sidgwick's Critique of Nozick', as well as a couple of links to further your search. Methods of Sidgwick forms part of the larger Classical Utilitarian Website (CUWS).

(Record courtesy of intute.)

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Collective welfare

The Disability Rights and Independent Living Movement

Run by UC Berkeley, this site connects to a rich collection of primary sources exploring the social and political history of the disability movement from the 1960s to the present. One of the projects of the Regional Oral History Office, a research programme of the University of California, Berkeley, working within The Bancroft Library, the site contains a huge array of audio clips, with information conveniently grouped into 'Research Topics' for easy browsing.

Suffragists Oral History Project

In the early 1970s the Suffragists Oral History Project, under the auspices of the Bancroft Library's Regional Oral History Office, collected interviews with twelve leaders and participants in the women's suffrage movement. Tape-recorded and transcribed oral histories preserved the memories of these remarkable women, documenting formative experiences, activities to win the right to vote for women, and careers as leaders of the movements for welfare and labour reform, world peace, and the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. Now, 25 years later, the nineteenth century meets the twenty-first as the words of these activist women, born from the 1860s to the 1890s, are made accessible for future scholarly research and public information via the internet.

Animal Rights History

As a free online library, literary research resource, animal rights timeline and historical literature archive, Animal Rights History promotes and facilitates access to information, education, literary research and the preservation of historical literature on animal rights, animal welfare and the humane movement against cruelty to animals.

Hidden Lives Revealed

The Waifs and Strays' Society, founded in 1881, is known today as The Children's Society. Hidden Lives Revealed uses a range of archive material to document the lives of the poor and disadvantaged children whom the Society cared for between 1881 and 1914. Anonymised case files, photographs and information on children's homes make this a valuable resource for social historians, whilst printable worksheets and online activities make the site equally accessible for teachers and children.

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