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Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution

Author

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  • Humphries,Jane

Abstract

This is a unique account of working-class childhood during the British industrial revolution, first published in 2010. Using more than 600 autobiographies written by working men of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Jane Humphries illuminates working-class childhood in contexts untouched by conventional sources and facilitates estimates of age at starting work, social mobility, the extent of apprenticeship and the duration of schooling. The classic era of industrialisation, 1790–1850, apparently saw an upsurge in child labour. While the memoirs implicate mechanisation and the division of labour in this increase, they also show that fatherlessness and large subsets, common in these turbulent, high-mortality and high-fertility times, often cast children as partners and supports for mothers struggling to hold families together. The book offers unprecedented insights into child labour, family life, careers and schooling. Its images of suffering, stoicism and occasional childish pleasures put the humanity back into economic history and the trauma back into the industrial revolution.

Suggested Citation

  • Humphries,Jane, 2011. "Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521248969, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:cbooks:9780521248969
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. B. Zorina Khan, 2018. "Human capital, knowledge and economic development: evidence from the British Industrial Revolution, 1750–1930," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 12(2), pages 313-341, May.
    2. Moshe Justman & Karine Beek, 2015. "Market forces shaping human capital in eighteenth-century London," Economic History Review, Economic History Society, vol. 68(4), pages 1177-1202, November.
    3. Vögele Jörg Peter & Liczbińska Grażyna, 2023. "Child Labour and Health During the Industrialization in Western Europe with Special Reference to Prussia," Studia Historiae Oeconomicae, Sciendo, vol. 41(2), pages 63-78, December.
    4. C. Knick Harley, 2013. "British and European Industrialization," Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers _111, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    5. C Knick Harley, 2013. "British and European Industrialization," Oxford University Economic and Social History Series _111, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
    6. Adrian Palacios-Mateo, 2023. "Education and household decision-making in Spanish mining communities, 1877–1924," Cliometrica, Springer;Cliometric Society (Association Francaise de Cliométrie), vol. 17(2), pages 301-340, May.
    7. Krauss, Alexander, 2017. "Understanding child labour beyond the standard economic assumption of monetary poverty," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 68497, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    8. Feldman, Naomi E. & van der Beek, Karine, 2016. "Skill choice and skill complementarity in eighteenth century England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 94-113.
    9. Everard, Mark & Reed, Mark S. & Kenter, Jasper O., 2016. "The ripple effect: Institutionalising pro-environmental values to shift societal norms and behaviours," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 21(PB), pages 230-240.

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