Welcome to the Slum

In early nineteenth-century Britain the unprecedented rapid growth of industrial cities, and concerns about disease and squalor, led to heightened anxieties about possible revolution. This digital exhibition examines the ways in which a variety of ‘social investigators’ attempted to explore, explain and contain urban poverty. Looking at how poverty was depicted by government officials, social reformers, public health advocates, philanthropists, investigative journalists, authors and artists, the exhibition explores how the urban ‘slum’ became the battleground for fierce debates about class, gender and national identity.

This exhibition was created by students on the Level 6 (3rd year) module ‘Exploring the Slum: The Politics of Poverty in Britain’, taught as part of the History Programme at the University of Derby. The module draws heavily on the excellent range of digital resources available for the study of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century society and culture, including newspapers, pamphlets, statistics and digitised archives. Student groups were given a theme to consider and within that students chose primary sources to write about to highlight that theme. They also worked together as a team to create an introductory page for their theme to make their exhibition sections coherent.

Please use the menu above to navigate between the different themes. Click on the main title (‘Animals’, ‘Children’, etc.) to read the group introduction to each section; hover over the title for a drop-down menu of individual exhibits and analysis within each section.

We hope that you enjoy the exhibition! New sections will be added in the coming year, so please do check back regularly.

If you have any questions about this website or the module, please contact the Module Leader, Dr Cath Feely [c.feely@derby.ac.uk]