Women, Welfare and Local Politics 1880-1920: 'We Might Be Trusted'

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Sussex Academic Press, Apr 7, 2010 - History - 364 pages
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Offering a reappraisal of the role of women in the politics and practice of welfare in late Victorian and early Edwardian England, this book focuses on the Lancashire mill town of Bolton, tracing the emergence of a core of female social and political activists from the 1860s. It analyzes their achievements as they rose from the humble origins of a workhouse visiting committee to become pivotal players in the formulation and implementation of local welfare policy after 1894. Using a unique working diary written by the activist and female poor law Guardian Mary Haslam, the book portrays these Bolton women as sophisticated political operators. The author challenges established notions that women involved in local welfare administration were resented and achieved little, showing their importance in the process by which Bolton Poor Law Union moved from being one of the most backward and obstructive to one of the most progressive and dynamic in the country, adopting best practice from Britain and overseas and revolutionizing the material and psychological fabric of the poor law.

 

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Contents

one The New Poor Law Female Agency and Feminism
3
two Poverty and Poor Relief in Lancashire and Bolton
29
Figures
45
three Preparing the Ground? Philanthropy Public
56
four Fighting an Election
88
five Negotiating Power
115
six Making a Difference
142
seven Feminism the Politics of Local Government
164
Born to Intellectual Freedom? The Records of Mary Haslam
195
nine Diary Kept by Mary Haslam of her Work
203
TEN The Travel Diaries of Mary Haslam
251
eleven Womens Suffrage in Bolton
258
Notes
274
Bibliography of Secondary Sources
324
Index
343
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About the author (2010)

Steven King is a professor of economic history at the University of Leicester. He publishes widely on the history of British and European welfare, 1700–1920 and is the coauthor of The Poor in England 1700–1850: An Economy of Make-shifts.

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