Between 1886 and 1903,
the wealthy philanthropic Victorian industrialist Charles Booth (1840-1916)
undertook, at his own expense and to his own design, a groundbreaking
social survey of London life. Although his Inquiry into the life and
labour of the people in London was one of several 19th century
London surveys, it is the only one for
which the team of interviewers' original notes and data have survived.
notes were the basis for a number of published works, the last edition
of which, Life and labour of the people in London, was published
in seventeen volumes during 1902 and 1903. But the original notebooks
provide a much more detailed account of many aspects of contemporary
London life as the published work excluded any information which could
identify any of those interviewed or referred to. The interviewing team
included several who were later to become well known such as Beatrice
Potter (later Webb), George Duckworth, and Clara Collet (daughter of
Collet Dobson Collet, the editor of Urquhart's Free press who was
referred to by Karl Marx as 'Urquhart's Bulldog').
original notebooks from the survey are held in the
Charles Booth Archive
at the British Library of Political and Economic Science (housed at the
London School of Economics) where, with many other Booth items, they can
readily be consulted on microfilm.
outcome of Booth's survey was the Descriptive Map of London
1889. This comprised maps of London with the buildings on each
coloured to indicate which of a series of economic levels, ranging from
poverty to wealth, most closely characterised their inhabitants. The City of London was left uncoloured as the number of
residents was considered to be statistically insignificant.
of Booth's team visited three Turkish baths as part of their survey, one
of them visiting two establishments.