Helen Berry: “Problems with philanthropy in eighteenth-century Britain: industry, empire and the fate of London’s foundlings” (18/04)

Helen Berry (Université de Newcastle), “Problems with philanthropy in eighteenth-century Britain: industry, empire and the fate of London’s foundlings”. Jeudi 18 avril 2019 de 17h30 à 19h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421

«  Helen Berry’s new book Orphans of Empire: the Fate of London’s Foundlings (Oxford: OUP, 2019) tells the story of what happened to the thousands of children who were raised at the London Foundling Hospital, Coram’s brainchild, which opened in 1741 and grew to become the most famous charity in Georgian England. It provides vivid insights into the lives and fortunes of London’s poorest children, from the earliest days of the Foundling Hospital to the mid-Victorian era, when Charles Dickens was moved by his observations of the charity’s work to campaign on behalf of orphans. Through the lives of London’s foundlings, this book provides readers with a street-level insight into the wider global history of a period of monumental change in British history as the nation grew into the world’s leading superpower. Some foundling children were destined for Britain’s ‘outer Empire’ overseas, but many more toiled in the ‘inner Empire’, labouring in the cotton mills and factories of northern England at the dawn of the new industrial age.

Through extensive archival research, Helen Berry uncovers previously untold stories of what happened to former foundlings, including the suffering and small triumphs they experienced as child workers during the upheavals of the Industrial Revolution. Sometimes, using many different fragments of evidence, the voices of the children themselves emerge. Extracts from George King’s autobiography, the only surviving first-hand account written by a Foundling Hospital child born in the eighteenth century, published here for the first time, provide touching insights into how he came to terms with his upbringing. Remarkably he played a part in Trafalgar, one of the most iconic battles in British Naval history. His personal courage and resilience in overcoming the disadvantages of his birth form a lasting testimony to the strength of the human spirit. »   

Répondant : Isabelle Robin, Sorbonne Université

Laura Schwartz : “Feminism and the Servant Problem: Class and Domestic Labour in the British Women’s Suffrage Movement” (11/04)

Laura Schwartz, de University of Warwick, présentera sa communication “Feminism and the Servant Problem: Class and Domestic Labour in the British Women’s Suffrage Movement” le jeudi 11 avril 2019 de 17h30 à 19h. Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente, Paris 6e , salle D421

“In the early twentieth century, more and more women fought for the right to professional employment and political influence outside the home. Yet if liberation from household ‘drudgery’ meant employing another woman to do it, where did this leave domestic servants? Both inspired and frustrated by a growing feminist movement, servants began forming their own trade unions and demanding better conditions and rights at work. Feminism and the Servant Problem is the first ever history of how these militant maids and their mistresses joined forces in the struggle for the vote but also clashed over competing class interests. Laura Schwartz uncovers a forgotten history of domestic worker organising and early feminist thinking on reproductive labour, offering a new perspective on the class politics of the suffrage movement and challenging traditional notions of who made up the British working-class.”

Laura Schwartz is Associate Professor of Modern British History at the University of Warwick. She has published widely on the history of British feminism, and is the author of A Serious Endeavour: Gender, Education and Community at St Hugh’s, 1886-2011 (2011), and Infidel Feminism: Secularism, Religion and Women’s Emancipation in England, 1830-1914 (2013).

Discutante : Rebecca Rogers (Paris-Descartes)

Contact : Fabrice Bensimon fbensimon@free.fr