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The rural labour market in the early nineteenth century: women's and children's employment, family income, and the 1834 Poor Law Report
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 09:10 authored by Nicola Verdon
This article revisits a familiar source - the 1834 Poor Law Report - to provide a fresh overview of the regional map of female and child labour in the early nineteenth-century countryside. Patterns of employment in domestic industry and agricultural labour (particularly haymaking, weeding, and harvesting), as well as data on contributions of labourers to the annual family income, both confirm and contrast with the findings of previous studies which use alternative sources (farm account books and settlement examinations for instance). Orthodox accounts of rural employment and wage patterns should not be accepted uncritically. The research adopts an empirical approach to the qualitative evidence contained in the report, calling for a reassessment of the way historians use official nineteenth-century documents and offers a blueprint for future analysis of similar contemporary printed sources.
JournalEconomic History Review
Department affiliated with
- History Publications
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