Wednesday 3 June 2015 - Beginnings: The Nottingham Charity Organisation Society

Welcome to ‘The Problem of the Poor?’ blog page. This blog aims to keep you, the reader informed on what we, the wonderful volunteers have discovered in our unique heritage project and how we have been getting along.

This blog was written by Christine, one of our Heritage Volunteers.

In previous sessions we have thought about nineteenth-century poverty in general, looking at the causes of poverty, society’s responses to it (particularly the Poor Law, the workhouse and charity) and the strategies poor people used to survive and help themselves.

This week we moved our focus onto Nottingham in the period immediately following 1875 when the Nottingham Charity Organisation Society (also called the Nottingham Society for Organising Charity) was formed. We also started practicing our research skills using extracts from local newspapers of that period as our main source of evidence.

By sharing the information and ideas we obtained from these extracts, we were able to build up a picture of the Nottingham Society for Organising Charity, what it did, how it went about its work, who was involved, etc.

We were slightly surprised that charities published lists of names of subscribers and the size of donations. We discussed the various factors which possibly motivated charitable giving.

We were pleasantly surprised by the details in the Society’s annual reports and in the press reports of the annual meetings.  Only a small proportion of the people who were given a ticket to attend the Society Offices actually turned up to be assessed. The Society seemed to have an important role in sign-posting people in need to other agencies such as hospitals.

You can read more about the London Charity Organisation Society, from which the Nottingham Society for Organising Charity sprung, and its impact on late Victorian social policy here.

Last updated: 30 July 2015