Voices of the Victorian Poor is an open database of letters from paupers, the wider poor and their advocates written between 1834 – 1900. These materials show even the very poorest members of society could be literate, understand the poor laws, regulations and rules, and were able and willing to resist or contest the power of the national and local state. The letters explain their situations in their own words, providing an invaluable insight into the lives of everyday ordinary Victorians whose thoughts and opinions are often considered ‘lost to history.’ The letters are a testament to the agency of the poor and their insistence to be considered citizens with rights.
The site was created as part of a Teacher Scholar Programme, exploring the letters alongside ten teachers to discover elements of these people’s lives that can aid the understanding of students in primary and secondary schools. Each teacher was tasked to create a resource using the letters to be used in classrooms. These free resources are now available for your use below, available online and as downloadable resources.
This resource is designed for a KS3 year 8-9 class with prior knowledge on the Victorian Workhouse.
This lesson for KS2 explores the topic of school within the wider context of the enquiry ‘What was life like for a child in the Victorian Workhouse?’
This document pack and associated activity are designed to support students with their depth study of Poverty, Public Health and the State in Britain c1780 - 1939.
- Document One – MH12/9356/98
- Document Two (a) – MH12/11198/83
- Document Two (b) – MH12/11198/92
- Document Three – MH12/14674
- Document Four – MH12/1527/32
- Document Five (a) – MH12/9361/231
- Document Five (b) – MH12/9361/243
- Document Six – MH12/15467
- Document Seven (a) – MH12/15158/140
- Document Seven (b) – MH12/15158/140
- Document Eight – MH12/6039
It has previously been assumed that paupers themselves had little knowledge nor understanding of the legislation governed their position, yet letters sent to the poor law commission from across England and Wales challenge this notion.
This lesson for KS4 presents a carousel activity exploring aspects of Health in the MH12 collection.
The seven letters selected within this resource show a wealth of varied experiences of women inside the workhouse.