Antiqua Print Gallery Charles Booth London Poverty Maps
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Charles Booth Poverty Maps
Booth was critical of the existing statistical data on poverty, by analysing census returns he argued that they were unsatisfactory and later sat on a committee in 1891 which suggested improvements which could be made to them.
Booth publicly criticised the claims of the leader of the Social Democratic Federation H. M. Hyndman - leader of Britain's first socialist party. In the Pall Mall Gazette of 1885, Hyndman stated that 25% of Londoners lived in abject poverty. Booth investigated poverty in London, working with a team of investigators which included his cousin Beatrice Potter (Beatrice Webb) and the chapter on women's work was conducted by budding economist, Clara Collet. This research, which looked at incidences of pauperism in the East End of London, showed that 35% were living in abject poverty - even higher than the original figure. This work was published under the title Life and Labour of the People in 1889. A second volume, entitled Labour and Life of the People, covering the rest of London, appeared in 1891. Booth also popularised the idea of a 'poverty line', a concept originally conceived by the London School Board. Booth set this line at 10 to 20 shillings, which he considered to be the minimum amount necessary for a family of 4 or 5 people to subsist.
After the first two volumes were published Booth expanded his research, the fruit of which was a second expanded edition of his original work, published as Life and Labour of the People in London in nine volumes between 1892 and 1897. A third edition appeared 1902-3. He used this work to argue for the introduction of Old Age Pensions which he described as "limited socialism". Booth argued that such reforms would help prevent socialist revolution from occurring in Britain. Booth was far from tempted by the ideals of socialism, but had sympathy with the working classes and, as part of his investigations, he took lodgings with working class families and recorded his thoughts and findings in his diaries.

Map colour key:
BLACK: Lowest class. Vicious, semi-criminal.
DARK BLUE: Very poor, casual. Chronic want.
LIGHT BLUE: Moderate Poverty.
PURPLE: Mixed. Some comfortable others poor
PINK: Fairly comfortable. Good ordinary earnings.
RED: Middle class. Well-to-do.
YELLOW: Upper-middle and Upper classes. Wealthy.

(Source Wikipedia)