Charles Booth's Victorian Poverty Map Is Now Online

By Zoe Craig Last edited 91 months ago

Last Updated 02 December 2016

Charles Booth's Victorian Poverty Map Is Now Online

Charles Booth's London Poverty Map is now available online in a new, interactive version.

The famous, colourful poverty maps were created between 1886 and 1903, as part of Charles Booth's ground-breaking study into the lives of ordinary Londoners.

Called 'Inquiry Into the Life and Labour of the People in London', the epic work studied families and residents living across London, and coloured the streets according to their financial situation: between black for 'lowest class, vicious, semi-criminal' through pink for mixed 'some comfortable, some poor' to orange for 'wealthy'.

In 2016, LSE's archive of Charles Booth’s work was inscribed into UNESCO's Memory of the World Register. The archive comprises over 450 volumes of interviews, questionnaires, observations and statistical information.

A slice of life in Westminster, from Charles Booth's famous map.

Now you can search through an interactive version of the poverty maps for any London district, area or street, and see what it was like in Victorian times.

Even more interesting are the researchers' notebooks, now also available online, and cross referenced on the maps. They're full of fascinating research with incredibly rich detail.

BOOTH/B/364, p. 49. Description of dinner for one of residents in Holcombe Buildings. Valentine Place, Holcombe Buildings, Joiners Street.

Here's a description of a house near Tooley Street in London Bridge:

Spoke to one woman who had been there for 30 years. Her rent is 5/9; others now pay 7/-, but hers will not be raised.

Her husband is 76 and she is 72, and the former is still good for a days work. He is a sail hand at Hays Wharf.

His dinner was cooking ready to be sent — three-quarters of a pound of steak and a suet pudding, and he will eat it "every bit". "He has a good appetite, and a good digestion, thank God.

The study also looked into London's migrant communities, as highlighted by the new website.

Picking through the tidbits of information from these people's lives will make you feel a bit like a Victorian costume drama police detective.

Visit, and take a trip back in time.

Londonist accepts no responsibility for the hours you're about to waste; blame Booth and those clever fiends at LSE.