Charles Booth and “London’s Labour and Poor”

I found Booth’s process to be very interesting. The way he researched was so very different than London’s “undercover” look at the poor of London. Booth looks at the entire picture of London. He finds the highs and lows and in between. In many ways his writings and maps are much more “accurate” than London’s, but he lacks the human interest and specific details that London seems to really embrace. They also looked for very different information in their research. London just sought to document misery and suffering, while Booth was looking for the root of the problems. Both are equally passionate, London just goes about it like an author and Booth looks at it like the business man that he was. Of course, Booth was also working with a very different end in mind. The goal of his writings and maps was to create a sort of database of information that the British government could use to improve the lives of it’s citizens. These maps would totally change how we take censuses and what we do with the information we gather within them.

When thinking of the massive scale that Booth worked with to compile all this information, it is fairly astounding. Just the leg work involved in getting the research was a titanic venture, and the fact that he managed to legible assemble into something accessible. It is an astonishing piece of work.


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