Analysing the archive

WorkhouseResearch by Samantha Shave examines past parliaments’ role in the making and breaking of welfare policies. In particular, Samantha is interested in the development, impact and discontinuation of poor relief policies and practices in England, and how people from all areas of society were involved in this past ‘policy process’. This research has culminated in Pauper Policies: Poor Law Practice in England, 1780-1850 and a paper in The Historical Journal.

Using a ‘policy process’ perspective, Samantha has demonstrated the importance of early welfare scandals, especially after the centralisation of poor law administration in 1834. Scandals impacted on the development of welfare policies, and also allowed for the opinions and experiences of the poorest to reach Parliament. An essay in the edited collection Medicine and the Workhouse and more recently a paper in Continuity and Change have examined the role of scandals in the development of medical and child treatment policies respectively.

Pauper policiesKey to this research has been the complex linkage of various documents held in The Parliamentary Archives, The National Archives, digitalised collections of British Parliamentary Papers and Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates, as well as local record offices.

Samantha is now undertaking research into welfare scandals prior to 1834, and the implementation of deterrent workhouse systems beyond England.