Inscribed into the UNESCO UK Memory of the World Register in 2016, the Charles Booth Archive at the Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science offers unparalleled insights into social and economic life in Victorian London.
By promoting inclusive quality education and raising awareness of past and present inequalities, the Archive is a great example of how UNESCO Memory of the World inscriptions can contribute to the SDGs.
It holds the papers of industrialist and social reformer Charles Booth who conducted ‘one of the most ambitious and wide-ranging sociological surveys ever completed.’174 His 16-year-long study Inquiry into Life and Labour in London holds extensive data on the social conditions of Londoners including hand-written notebooks and detailed maps documenting poverty levels, religious influences, prostitution and migration.
The Archive runs exhibitions and has an engaging and interactive website to make Booth’s papers more accessible, raise their awareness, and engage visitors in social and economic history.
Also, most of the Archive’s collection is digitised which not only provides access to a wider audience but also encourages greater interaction with the sources. Visitors can compare Booth’s maps with those of London today, tracing the change and development that have taken place in the city over the centuries.
Search functions, references to Booth’s respective notes and detailed descriptions mean visitors can follow their own interests. The collection also demonstrates how data used to be collected and how new methodologies and techniques in the social sciences developed at the time.
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