I am a historian of social mobility, welfare and childhood in modern Britain. My PhD used innovative life course analysis to examine the social mobility experienced by disadvantaged children from two Victorian institutions. It explored the impact that institutionalised welfare had on children’s lives during a period in which family life could be punitive, neglectful and abusive. The thesis argued that intervention was motivated by a desire to protect children from harm and provide them with a better future. Through detailed quantitative analysis of life-long outcomes, the research showed that children who entered residential care experienced higher social mobility than their non-institutionalised siblings. It showed that this effect was even more marked when children made the choice to emigrate. Its exploration of the lives and voices of emigrant children provided important insights into the motivations that underpinned working-class emigration in this period as well as into the opportunities for mobility that empire provided. Its conclusion that children who entered residential care in the second half of the nineteenth century benefited from intervention marked a fundamental reassessment of the purpose and effect of Victorian welfare. I am currently preparing an article based on this work and plan on turning the thesis into a monograph.
Histories of childhood and youth
I currently teach:
History of the British Isles VI: c.1830-1951
History of the British Isles VI: Power, Politics and the People 1815-1924
European and World History IV
History of the British Isles VI: Changing Identities, 1900-present