Charles Booth's London

Charles Booth's London poverty map

Charles Booth's Inquiry Into the Life and Labour of the People in London was a path-breaking investigation into the social conditions faced by Londoners living in the late-Victorian era. To mark the 2016 centenary of Booth’s death, LSE has relaunched the website dedicated to Booth’s life and work as Charles Booth’s London (https://booth.lse.ac.uk/).

Booth’s famous poverty maps were pioneering in the use of colour to detail the street-by-street disparities of wealth and poverty in London. The maps were drawn from a series of “police notebooks” that Booth and his team produced by walking the streets of the Victorian metropolis. The newly redeveloped website makes available both the police notebooks and the poverty maps.

The poverty maps are available as a single interactive version using modern online mapping techniques, and are also available individually for download. The interactive version of the map allows users to search by location, and offers the ability to geo-locate individual notebooks according to the streets Booth and his team walked when doing their research. The police notebooks are available to browse and search, can be read using state-of-the-art manuscript viewer technology, and are available for download.

In addition to making available the maps and notebooks, the site has been thoroughly redesigned to reflect modern web design and accessibility standards, and features responsive design allowing it to be accessed on desktop computers, on tablets and on mobile devices. The site also includes contextual information about Booth’s life and times and about the Inquiry, and provides a series of highlights offering a “way in” to the rich archival material.

Nicola Wright, Director of LSE Library commented: “This was a pioneering study and I am thrilled to see this important archive reinvented again and made even more engaging and accessible. The innovative work of the LSE Library team and our partners is a fitting tribute to Booth’s great endeavour.”

In July 2016 the Booth archive was inscribed on UNESCO’s UK Memory of the World Register, which recognises culturally significant heritage material from across the UK, joining other material such as the Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta. The redeveloped website reflects LSE’s ongoing commitment to make available LSE Library’s collections as widely as possible and via new and innovative means.

For more information

Peter Carrol, LSE Press Office, telephone: + 44 (0)207 955 6939, email: p.carrol@lse.ac.uk

Notes to editors: 

1. The site is available at: https://booth.lse.ac.uk/

2. The project to redevelop the site was led by LSE Library with its web design partners Mickey & Mallory.

3. LSE Library was founded as the British Library of Political and Economic Science in 1896 and has a national role in supporting scholarship in the social sciences. Charles Booth’s London fits into the Library’s portfolio of websites and furthers its mission to be the “laboratory for the social sciences”.

4. The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) is one of the foremost social science universities in the world. Its research and teaching span the full breadth of the social sciences, from economics, politics and law to sociology, anthropology, accounting and finance.

5. Image: Charles Booth Maps available from LSE Library's Flickr account No copyright restrictions

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