The Lock Hospital Asylum Project (led by Professor Patrick Wallis)
Some groups are almost invisible in the sources available to economic and social historians, and poor young unmarried women are among those who left the smallest imprint in surviving records. This project helps bring to light the experience of a small part of this lost group by producing a transcription and investigation of a unique, previously unstudied historical source: a volume of patient histories containing short biographical notes on the young women who were taken into the Lock Hospital Asylum between 1787 and 1808. The Asylum was established in 1787 to care for and reform female patients who had been “cured” of venereal disease at the Lock Hospital. Women were housed at the Asylum until they could be discharged into employment or the care of their relatives. The Asylum was to be a place of refuge for female patients who had no way to support themselves other than prostitution. It offered them a refuge when the alternative was returning to work in a brothel. In short, the women it took in were among the most marginal within English society in the late eighteenth century.
Over the three years of the project (2019-21) students in the Department of Economic History at LSE are collectively producing an authoritative edition of the Patient Histories that will be published online for historical researchers to use. We will also be working to produce original research using the source. The interns in 2020-21 contributed to this project by working on the transcripts that students had prepared and preparing structured datasets from the unstructured qualitative documents that survive. These sources give us a way to consider migration, occupational mobility, and status, among other questions in relation to the lives and experiences of the young women who entered the Lock Asylum.
Medical Records of Queen Charlotte Hospital (led by Dr. Eric Schneider)
A number of interns have been transcribing the medical records of the Queen Charlotte Hospital from the late-19th and early-20th centuries.
These records have fascinating information about the health of children at birth, including birth weights, lengths and stillbirths. The data was first used to understand whether children entering the Foundling Hospital (some of whom were born in the Queen Charlotte Hospital) were representative of other children in London, but over the next year or so, the records will be analysed in their own right to explore the socioeconomic determinants of birth weight in the period.
The data has already revealed that birth weights in turn-of-the-century London were not substantially lower than birth weights today.
Mapping Medieval Manors (led by Dr. Jordan Claridge)
Geospatial analysis is an important tool in the toolbox of any economic historian. Maps are powerful tools which allow us to understand how data samples are distributed across a given place. However, the further one goes back in time, the harder it can be to pinpoint the locations we are getting data from, and therefore difficult to plot points on a map. This is especially true for the manorial records of medieval England. Medieval manorial accounts survive in the tens of thousands and many come from places we would still recognize, and could even visit, today. The Bishop of Winchester, for instance, had a manor called Southwark in what is today South London. But where would we plot this on a map? South London is, after all, a big place in 2021. It turns out medieval Southwark was on the modern-day South Bank, and you can go see the ruins of the Bishop’s Palace there. Other locations are harder. Sometimes medieval villages have been abandoned, and there is no modern-day settlement to find. In other scenarios neighboring towns have grown and absorbed other settlements into their suburbs. Sometimes the problem is simply one of spelling. Place names have been spelled in a number of different ways over the centuries.
Interns on this project have been painstakingly searching the names of medieval manors, determining precisely where they existed, finding GIS coordinates for that location, and plotting them on a map. The search often starts with Wikipedia, which has a surprisingly robust set of wikis on local English history. The Victoria County History volumes are another important source which can often shed light on the locations of more obscure manors. So far, we have managed to locate and plot more than 500 manors which will facilitate a number of important analyses for my current research on both wages in the Middle Ages and the horse trade.