Professor Jane Humphries

Professor Jane Humphries

Centennial Professor

Department of Economic History

Key Expertise
Economic History; labour markets, industrialization; family and economy

About me

Professor Jane Humphries is Centennial professor of Economic History at LSE and a Fellow of All Souls College. Her research interests focus on labour markets, industrialization and the links between the family and the economy. She has published extensively on gender, the family and the history of women's work, and is also interested in the causes and consequences of economic growth and structural change.

Her book, Childhood and Child Labour in the British Industrial Revolution (Cambridge University Press, 2011) draws on numerous autobiographies by working men and uses innovative methodology to illuminate aspects of children's lives otherwise inaccessible on the basis of more conventional sources.  The book received the Gyorgi Ranki Prize for an outstanding book in European Economic History by the Economic History Association in 2011 and formed the basis of a BBC4 documentary, The Children Who Built Victorian Britain,  which Professor Humphries co-authored and presented. 

Expertise Details

Economic history; growth and development; labour markets; child labour in the British industrial revolution; history of women’s work; relationship between the family and the economy; Gender and economics

Recent publications and activities

2017-8 publications, including forthcoming:

‘Flogged into Learning’ or ‘Treasured Moments’: A History of Education from Below’, Honorary Doctorate address, Uppsala University, 2017.

‘Plague, Patriarchy and ‘Girl Power’’, in Making Work More Equal: A New Labour Market Segmentation Approach, edited by Damian Grimshaw, Colette Fagan, Gail Hebson, & Isabel Tavora, Manchester University Press, 2017, pp. 208-226.

‘Spinning the Industrial Revolution, with Benjamin Schneider, Economic History Review, forthcoming, published online early May 2018.

‘Unreal Wages? Real Income and Economic Growth in England, 1260-1850’, with Jacob Weisdorf, Economic Journal, forthcoming.

‘Children’s Work and Wages, 1270-1860’, with Sara Horrell, Oxford Economic and Social History Working Papers, No. 163, March 2018. 


2017-18 Conference Keynotes:

'Women’s Work and ‘Respectable’ Living’',  Invisible Hands Conference, Glasgow, May 2018.

'From the Wings to Centre Stage: Women and Economic Growth', World Economic History Conference, Cambridge, MA, August 2018.

'Women’s Role(s) in Economic Growth', ASE Third Annual Congress, Bocconi, Milan, September 2018.

'To the Centre Stage: Women in Economic History', Figuerola Lecture, Fundacion Ramon Areces, Madrid, 3rd October 2018. The Figuerola Lecture is a prestigious public lecture with simultaneous translation into Spanish.  It was accompanied by several local media interviews including one full page spread in the main Madrid newspaper. (I have copies if it would be useful). 

'From the Wings to Centre Stage: Women in Economic History', Portuguese Economic History Association, Lisbon, November 2018.


Media appearances

Newspaper interviews accompanying the Figuerola Lecture (see above).

‘Night Waves’, guest, May 2nd 2018.


Knowledge Exchange

‘Stranded Spinsters: An early case of technological displacement’, with Ben Schneider, panel presentation at a workshop on Understanding the Impact of Technological Change: Lessons from History and Economics, The Royal Society, March 2018.  [A synopsis of the case study written for a general audience will be included in a forthcoming issue of the British Academy Review].

Lectures on ‘Women and Girls’ Experience in the era of industrialization’ at banbury Historical Society, January 2017 and Thame Museum, June 2018. 

Panel presentation on ‘The History of Women’s Work’, Women’s Network, Treasury, November 2018.

Review of Richard Baldwin, The Great Convergence, in TLS, 21/4/17.


Conferences at LSE 

Leigh Gardner and I are planning to show my 2012 BBC2 Documentary 'The Children Who Built Victorian Britain', and have a discussion about translating historical scholarship into public engagement sometime next term.  Date not yet fixed.

Research Projects

  1. Family Living Standards (with Sara Horrell and Jacob Weisdorf)
  2. The Making and Unmaking of Communities: Pit Villages in the Past and the Present, with Ryah Thomas. (Part of a large project on the transition to a non-carbon society in the Oxford Martin School).
  3. Hand Spinning, with Ben Schneider.
  4. Accounting for domestic work.  A new approach to real wages and national incomes.
  5. From the Wings to Centre Stage: Women in Economic History (book project based on McArthur Lectures and new work  for CUP).










My research