Charles Booth's Inquiry into the Life and Labour of the People in London was published in 1903 after 16 years of intense research and it remains one of the most ambitious and wide-ranging sociological surveys ever completed.
The poverty maps, which use colours to detail the street-by-street levels of wealth and poverty of the city, are the most famous outputs from the work. Now, to mark the centenary of Booth’s death, we are for the first time displaying a selection from the extensive archive holdings of Booth’s survey, telling the remarkable story of its inception, delivery and influence.
Although the idea, principle guidance and funding were provided by Charles Booth, the inquiry work itself was carried out with the help of numerous individuals. Among these, Beatrice Webb, co-founder of LSE and the Fabian Society, was involved at the early stages. Her original manuscript diary from April 1886 features in the exhibition and mentions "Charles Booth’s first meeting of the Board of Statistical Research … Object of the Committee to get a fair picture of the whole of London society – the 4,000,000!"
The exhibition focuses on the local area and on display is one of the original, hand-coloured ‘poverty maps’ of Holborn. There are also several of the original, hand-written notebooks which exemplify the work carried out to detail the poverty and industries from the time.
Monday to Friday: 9am – 7pm
Saturday and Sunday: 11am – 6pm