The day’s programme

9.45-11.00 Session 1: Dynamics of the Old and New poor Laws

Chair/Discussant: Dr Kim Price (University of Leicester)

Joseph Harley (University of Leicester) ‘Pauper inventories and the nature of poor relief during the final 100 years of the English old poor law’

Lewis Darwen (University of Central Lancashire) ‘Outdoor relief and pauper family structure in industrial Lancashire: analysing a mid-nineteenth century pauper ‘census’.’

Karen Rothery (University of Hertfordshire) ‘The good, the bad and the indifferent: a study of the Hertfordshire Poor Law Guardians’

Break – 11.00 to 11.15

11.15-12.30 Session 2: Pensions, allowances and benefits

Chair/Discussant: Professor Josephine Maltby (University of Sheffield)

Kathleen McIlvenna (IHR) ‘Pensions in the Post Office: the debates and constraints of the 19th century civil service pensions’.

Paul Huddie (University of West London) ‘The welfare of British military families, 1793-1919’

Matthew Cooper (University of Warwick) ‘Disciplinary welfare and moral orders: a study of benefits for unemployed youth in Birmingham in the 1930s’

Lunch – 12.30 to 1.15

1.15-2.30 Session 3: Beyond the state

Chair/Discussant: Dr Kate Bradley (University of Kent)

Susan Woodall (Royal Holloway) ‘‘Not free from disease and in a dreadful state of filth’: censure, welfare and expedient philanthropy in nineteenth-century reform institutions for ‘fallen’ women’

Ruth Davidson (King’s College London) ‘Social citizenship and social action, women’s activism in Croydon, 1900-39’

Charlie Chih-Hao Lee (University of Cambridge) ‘A ‘Workers’ University’? The Achievement and Limitations of Workers’ Educational Association Tutorial Classes, 1909-39’

2.30-3.30 Session 4: Agency in the Victorian welfare system

Chair/Discussant: Dr Elizabeth Hurren (University of Leicester)

Kathryn Fox (The National Archives) ‘Gentleman you have no idea how the poor is treated by those scoundrels’; pauper letters from the Basford Poor Law Union 1836-1871

Claudia Soares (Independent Scholar) ‘Agency, resistance and co-operation: welfare dependants’ attitudes towards and experiences of care in the Victorian children’s institution’

Break – 3.30 to 3.45

3.45-5.00 Session 5: Communities and health in the twentieth century

Chair/Discussant: Dr Jameel Hampton (Liverpool Hope University)

Nicola Blacklaws (University of Leicester) ‘‘Old’ and ‘new’ welfare: The Poor Law and Saffron Lane Estate 1925-1929’

George Fleming (University of Worcester) ‘The other side of the cure: Birmingham’s foray into inter war health propaganda films’

Edward Cheetham (Nottingham Trent University) ‘Healthcare Communities without the State: Examples from Derbyshire, 1900-1939’

Roundtable discussion, 5.00-6.00

Started and chaired by Professor Steven King (University of Leicester)

Call for Papers

Saturday 30 April 2016, 9.30-18.00, Centre for Medical Humanities, University of Leicester

This workshop brings together postgraduate and early career scholars from any discipline to consider new perspectives on British welfare provision before the birth of the ‘traditional’ welfare state. We will discuss a range of topics: the nature of welfare provision, the relationships between welfare providers and welfare recipients, the quality and scale of welfare provision, topics such as eligibility and stigmatism, and concepts such as collectivism and universalism. Papers might focus on a particular form of welfare, such as healthcare, housing, education, institutionalisation and early forms of social security, how welfare was experienced by particular groups, or how welfare was provided, for instance, within or by a parish, community, family, institution, mutual aid society, voluntary organisation or charity. The papers might have a new methodological insight to share, or an unseen or digitalised collection of records to showcase which enhance our knowledge of welfare in the nineteenth and early-twentieth century. We welcome paper submissions from postgraduate and early career academics from all disciplines. We hope that this is the start of fresh, interdisciplinary conversations on welfare provision in modern Britain.

Workshop format

This workshop will consist of 15 minute papers. An academic advisor will be assigned to each session to offer comment on the papers and there will be time for questions. The workshop will end with a roundtable discussion with the aim of drawing together the themes and issues which arise throughout the day. The roundtable will start with reflections on the papers by Professor Steven King, Director of the Centre for Medical Humanities. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. We will be encouraging the use of Twitter at this event. Our hashtag is: #b4welfare

After the workshop

We would like to continue our conversations after the event and allow people unable to attend on the day to learn more about the workshop. As such, paper presenters and discussants will be asked to write a short blog piece about their research and any insights they gained during the workshop. These will be uploaded here on the conference blog.

Call for papers deadline

Please send an email to Dr Samantha Shave ( containing a short abstract (of up to 300 words) of your paper and a short CV by 8th January 2016. You will be notified soon after this date whether your paper has been selected for the workshop. If you are selected, we would like to receive your written paper by the 25th March 2016. Attendees are also welcome to come, but please email Samantha Shave by the 25th March 2016 to reserve a place.

Travel expenses

Postgraduates and early career academics are eligible to apply for travel expenses if they are presenting a paper. Please state whether you would like this assistance in your initial email with a rough estimate of the cost

The workshop is generously supported by the University of Leicester Centre for the Medical Humanities, the Economic History Society and History Workshop Journal.