• HHBD update: railway clerks' budgets from UK, 1910-12

    Jan. 18, 2016

    Prof. Peter Scott (University of Reading), who has just joined the HHB community as a Researcher, and Prof. James T. Walker (University of Reading), co-authors of the article Demonstrating distinction at ‘the lowest edge of the black-coated class’: The family expenditures of Edwardian railway clerks, have provided the HHB Database with their data about British railway clerks.

    Described by Lord Rosebery as ‘men in the lowest edge, of the black-coated class... most to be considered for their narrowness of means’, railway clerks families faced one of the hardest struggles of all white-collar groups to maintain ‘respectable’ standards of housing, dress and other publicly-observable consumption markers. Railway clerks were also the only group of white-collar workers to leave a substantial volume of pre-1914 household budget data, compiled on a uniform basis, in a series of surveys conducted by the Railway Clerks Association (RCA) from 1910–1912. In the article, the authors utilise aggregate data from 611 household budgets for male railway clerks, together with over 200 surviving budget summaries. They are now part of the HHB Database, while supplementary data used in the publication are drawn from a sample of 100 households headed by railway clerks, from the 1911 Census.
    Featured image: Southampton clerical staff at the beginning of the 19th century.

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