1st Edition

Doing Working-Class History Research, Heritage, and Engagement

    366 Pages
    by Routledge

    366 Pages
    by Routledge

    Economic and political uncertainty has brought the language of class—especially discussion of the working class—to a broad audience across scholarship and social debate. This introductory volume shows how the history of the working class has, is, and can be researched, written, and represented.

    The book is structured in three parts: Perspective, Context, and Application. Each offers an introduction to both classic historiography and new ideas and methodologies. With chapters covering a span of the years c.1750 – present, the book focuses on three essential questions: 1. What is working-class history and what should it become? 2. What can a focus on working-class history reveal? 3. What are the possibilities of this research in the University classroom, the heritage world, and beyond?  

    Doing Working-Class History will appeal to students and scholars of working-class history, whether relative newcomers to the field or veteran researchers interested in new approaches and material. It will also be of interest to local and family historians, museum and heritage professionals, and general readers.

    Introduction: A time for working-class histories
    Oliver Betts, Laura Harrison, and Laura Christine Price

    Part 1: Working-class history in perspective

    1. Disability in working class history
    Ben Curtis

    2. Parasites unite: Sensory history, the possibilities of transgression, and the perceptual manifesto of the proletariat
    Andrew Kettler

    3. ‘What are those ones with the hammers?’: Teaching working class history in secondary schools
    Laura Christine Price

    4. ‘Everyone has a tale to tell’: Family history, family historians and working-class histories
    Laura Harrison

    5. Museums and Heritage Sites as sources for working-class history
    Oliver Betts

    6. Reading against the grain: Non-Plebian Sources in working-class history
    Oliver Betts

    7. Accessible bibliography
    Laura Christine Price

    Part 2: Working-class history in context

    8. The Daily Citizen: Class v consumerism in the early Labour press
    Christopher Shoop-Worrall

    9. Gender politics of class: Exploring the connections and collaboration between the Irish labour movement and the Irish Women’s Franchise League in Dublin, 1908–1916
    Erin Geraghty

    10. Bootstraps and bras: Maidenform, the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union, and the creation of a new export-led economy in Puerto Rico
    Natasha Synycia

    11. Patriotism and the English working class, c. 1902–1929
    David Swift

    12. Medical care for working-class children in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century
    Claire Phillips

    13. ‘I have told her that it was neglected, and asked her why’: Working–class women and discourses of ‘bad motherhood’ in England and Wales, 1870–1939
    Daniel J. R. Grey

    14. Unorganised Workers: Wool textile workers and class identities in twentieth-century Yorkshire
    Laura Christine Price

    15. ‘Where the Brass Band is Beloved’, Brass Bands and working-class cultural identity: Inventing a musical metonym in the Southern Pennines, c.1840–1914
    Stephen Etheridge

    16. Street life: The leisure spaces and places of working-class youth in Britain, c. 1870–1960
    Laura Harrison

    17. Coal miners in the industrialization and deindustrialization of France and Germany: A comparative synthesis of the Nord/Pas-de-Calais and the Ruhr
    Brian Shaev

    Part 3: Working-class history in application

    18. Representations of working-class lives at criminal justice heritage sites
    Dan Johnson and Rose Wallis

    19. How broadside ballads followed us into this century
    Jennifer Reid

    20. ‘We tell our own stories:’ Bussing Out, a creative installation about working-class children in Bradford
    Shabina Aslam

    21. ‘The Past We Inherit, the Future We Build’: The praxis of working-class history
    Rhian E. Jones


    Oliver Betts is Research Lead at the National Railway Museum in York. He specializes in the history of technology and class, exploring how working-class worlds across the Anglophone world were reshaped by technologies. He has published on workers, communities, and industry in history and museums. 

    Laura Harrison is an Associate Professor of Modern History at the University of the West of England. She specializes in histories of youth and youth culture and is the author of Dangerous Amusements: Leisure, the young working class, and urban space in Britain, c.1870-1939 (2022).

    Laura Christine Price is a historian, teacher and writer. Her PhD thesis, completed at the University of York, explored wool textile workers’ relationships to trade unionism. She is an independent researcher and teaches at a secondary school in West Yorkshire.