“In Their Own Write”: Victorian Pauper Letters
While most archival material relating to 19th century poverty was written either by the elites who legislated on the matter or the administrators who managed poverty at a local level, pauper letters offer a rare insight into the experience of poverty as written by the poor themselves.
This lecture will offer practical guidance on locating pauper letters within the large poor law archive at The National Archives. It will examine the historical value of these letters, statements and petitions that demonstrate the concerns, thoughts and feelings of the Victorian poor and what they thought about the welfare on offer.
Dr Paul Carter is the Principal Records Specialist (Modern Domestic Records) at The National Archives (TNA). His research interests and publications record centres on the history of welfare, poverty and the poor laws. He was the Project Director for TNA’s `Living the Poor Life' project and for the British Association for Local History’s Pauper Prisons.. Pauper Palaces (the Midlands) project. He was also a research fellow at the University of Nottingham focusing on poverty in Southwell and wider Nottinghamshire.
He currently holds a Wellcome award which centres on the nineteenth century correspondence of the General Board of Health. He is working on research proposals with the Universities of Leicester and Nottingham to examine a large collection of pauper letters punishments inflicted on workhouse pauper inmates.