Mr. Charles Booth's Inquiry

Samples of Booth Survey Notebooks

Police Notebooks (BOOTH/ B346 376)

Booth's assistants accompanied the police in walks around the police districts of London between 1897 and 1900. They compared the poverty classifications (see below) assigned to the streets on the 1889 Descriptive Map of London Poverty to the state of the streets they were observing in 1897 - 1900. Any alterations which were needed to revise the maps are indicated in the notebooks.

Lowest class.Vicious, semi-criminal.
Very poor, casual. Chronic want.
Poor. 18s. to 21s. a week for a moderate family.
Mixed. Some comfortable, others poor.
Fairly comfortable. Good ordinary earnings.
Middle-class. Well-to-do.
Upper-middle and Upper classes. Wealthy
A combination of colours - as dark blue or black, or pink and red - indicates that the street contains a fair proportion of each of the classes represented by the respective colours.

Fig.1: Booth map colour code

Booth's assistants observed and noted the state of housing, information concerning the inhabitants, and the types of industries situated in each area. Their investigations also revealed information about the lifestyle and living conditions of Londoners. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the notebooks are a particularly rich source of information on public houses, the relationship between publicans and the police, and the increasing number of women consuming alcohol.

Thirty-one police notebooks will be digitised by the end of the project. Access will be available via this web site. We hope to index all the streets mentioned in the police notebooks to allow quick and easy access to this wealth of information about London streets over a hundred years ago.

Click on the links below to view some examples of the varied and colourful accounts which can be found in the police notebooks. The images are each facing pages with the bulk of the hand-written text on the right-hand page and indicators as to the content on the left-hand page. They are available here as high resolution but highly compressed (approx 250 Kb each) JPEG file that are viewable in your web browser - just click on the links below then scroll to the right to read the body of the text. Higher quality, more user-friendly methods will be used to display notebook pages in the final web site.

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