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Historians or polemicists? : how the Webbs wrote their history of the English poor laws

Kidd, Alan J. (1987) Historians or polemicists? : how the Webbs wrote their history of the English poor laws. Economic History Review, 40 (3). pp. 400-417. ISSN 0013-0117

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Abstract

The article discusses the popularity of the 1920s book "English Poor Law History," by Sidney Webb and Beatrice Webb. The view that Sidney and Beatrice Webb had provided the definitive history of the poor law was reflected in the scholarly reviews of the time and much historical opinion ever since. The Webbs knew a great deal about the English poor law. Beatrice had been a member of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws of 1905-9 and the Webbs had written the famous Minority report. By the mid-1920s their campaign for the break up of the poor law was long over and these volumes could have been the product of mature reflection by the authors best qualified to write the history of so important an institution. The Webbs' "English poor law history" has enjoyed a prominent place in all bibliographies of the poor law since 1929. In texts used by students it has been described as indispensable, the classic work on the subject and remains in the 1980s a work of central importance in the history of the poor law. Nevertheless, some authors have had their doubts regarding accessibility of the Webbs. A more serious concern about the English poor law history has been the public activities and political affiliations of its authors.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > C Auxiliary sciences of history (General)
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JS Local government Municipal government
K Law > KD England and Wales
Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2015 17:18
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2015 17:18
URI: http://webbs.library.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/789

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