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20 Century British History

Andrew Jones
This article explores the history of modern British humanitarianism. Specifically, it charts the rise of an extensive humanitarian aid 'industry' in Britain, between 1963 and 1985. It does so through a focus on the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella body for joint emergency fundraising established in 1963. The DEC is an enduring and important presence in the British humanitarian landscape, as it brings together leading aid agencies to make fundraising campaigns on television after major disasters...
2015: 20 Century British History
Sean Nixon
The growth of conservation organizations like the National Trust for England, Wales and Northern Ireland (NT), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the county wildlife trusts was one of the more striking features of post-war social change. With their roots in late Victorian and Edwardian ideas of preservation and conservation, the membership of these organizations expanded sharply from the 1960s. The success of these groups, however, also brought its own problems. In particular the practical issues associated with their growth forced them to ask what kind of organizations they were and what kind of organizations they might become...
2015: 20 Century British History
Jennifer Crane
In July 1985 Steve and Susan Amphlett established Parents Against Injustice (PAIN) to support and represent parents falsely accused of child abuse. The Amphletts ran the organization from their own home, and struggled to gain funding, before closing PAIN in 1999. PAIN was to an extent a reflection of the 'new politics' of identity and lifestyle, concurrent with the rise of New Social Movements, as falsely accused parents utilized communication technologies to make their experiences public, and to contact and support one another...
2015: 20 Century British History
Andrew Seaton
This essay recovers organized opposition to the National Health Service (NHS) by considering the Fellowship for Freedom in Medicine (FFM), a conservative organization of doctors who challenged the 'Sacred Cow' of nationalized healthcare in the 1950s and 1960s. While there has been little interest in anti-NHS politics because of shortcomings in the institution's historiography, this study suggests ways a new history of the service can be written. Central to that project is taking the broader ideological and emotive quality of the NHS seriously, and appreciating the way, for all sides of the political spectrum, as well as the general public, the service has always been a contested symbol of post-war British identity...
2015: 20 Century British History
Andrew Tait Jarboe
Desperate for soldiers to stem the German onrush in late 1914, the British deployed some 135,000 Indian riflemen--known as sepoys--to the trenches of France and Belgium. Between October 1914 and December 1915, these soldiers fought at the battles of Ypres, Festubert, Givenchy, Neuve Chapelle, Second Ypres, and Loos, suffering some 34,252 casualties. This article looks to the experiences of these men at segregated hospitals in France and England from 1914 to 1915. These hospitals served many of the same dual purposes facilitated by hospitals for English soldiers: namely, they sustained the war-making capacity of the Indian battalions...
2015: 20 Century British History
Gareth Millward
In 1965, the Disablement Income Group launched its National Disability Income campaign to fight for equal treatment of disabled people in the British social security system. By 1977, a series of benefits were created to cover the general population. Yet, despite the obvious political significance of these developments, very little research has focused on the early pan-impairment disability non-governmental organization (NGO). Existing scholarship has come from one of two traditions: the 'poverty lobby' and NGO histories that focus on expert campaign groups; and disability studies which describes a teleological narrative of the development of disabled people's attempts to secure civil rights...
2015: 20 Century British History
Lise Butler
This article examines the East London-based Institute of Community Studies, and its founder, Michael Young, to show that sociology and social research offered avenues for left-wing political expression in the 1950s. Young, who had previously been Head of the Labour Party Research Department during the Attlee government, drew upon existing currents of psychological and sociological research to emphasize the continuing relevance of the extended family in industrial society and to offer a model of socialist citizenship, solidarity and mutual support not tied to productive work...
2015: 20 Century British History
Max Jones
This article presents the first detailed study of General Gordon's remembrance in Britain between 1918 and 1972. Previous scholars have exaggerated the impact of Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians (1918). Strachey damaged Gordon's reputation, but part one reveals how several commentators forcefully rebutted Eminent Victorians; official commemorations, books, radio plays, and films celebrated Gordon in the 1930s, as empire featured prominently in mass culture. Didactic uses of his example by the state diminished after 1945, but parts 2 and 3 show how writers used Gordon's story to engage with new debates about Britain's role in the world, immigration and sexuality...
2015: 20 Century British History
Becky Taylor
This article looks at Britain's response to the World Refugee Year (1959-60), and in particular the government's decision to allow entry to refugees with tuberculosis and other chronic illnesses. In doing so, it broke the practice established by the 1920 Aliens' Order which had barred entry to immigrants with a range of medical conditions. This article uses the entry of these sick refugees as an opportunity to explore whether government policy represented as much of a shift in attitude and practice as contemporary accounts suggested...
2015: 20 Century British History
Matthew Rubery
Britain's Talking Book Service began as a way of providing reading material to soldiers blinded during the First World War. This account traces the talking book's development from the initial experiments after the War to its debut and reception among blind soldiers and civilians in the 1930s. It has been put together using archives held by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (before its Royal Charter, the NIB) and Blind Veterans UK (formerly St. Dunstan's), the two organizations responsible for Britain's Talking Book Service...
2015: 20 Century British History
Louise Settle
During November 1933 the trial of three men accused of 'living off the earnings of prostitution' captivated the news reading public of Edinburgh. This article uses the detailed trial transcription and newspaper coverage of the Kosmo Club trial to examine the role that dance clubs played within a larger network of clandestine prostitution and the implications this had for the women who worked in these clubs as 'dance partners'. The case study focuses on a key moment in the history of prostitution, one that has not yet received sufficient historical attention, a moment when new technologies, such as the telephone and the motorcar, first began to dramatically alter the landscape of prostitution...
2014: 20 Century British History
Kate Murphy
In October 1932 the British Broadcasting Corporation introduced a marriage bar, stemming what had been an enlightened attitude towards married women employees. The policy was in line with the convention of the day; marriage bars were widespread in the inter-war years operating in occupations such as teaching and the civil service and in large companies such as Sainsbury's and ICI. However, once implemented, the BBC displayed an ambivalent attitude towards its marriage bar which had been constructed to allow those married women considered useful to the Corporation to remain on the staff...
2014: 20 Century British History
Frank Mort
To what extent did the abdication of Edward VIII represent a significant turning point both in the history of constitutional monarchy and in the relationship between public and private morality in inter-war Britain? Letters written to the King and to other key players in the affair provide evidence of the disputed nature of media-influenced public opinion during the 1930s. But it is also argued that this correspondence points to the psychologically expansive and emotionally expressive nature of contemporary opinion formation, as it was experienced in the context of a major crisis of national self-confidence that centred on the behaviour of the sovereign...
2014: 20 Century British History
Nadja Durbach
In the early decades of the twentieth century, as the British government expanded its social programs, and private charities and co-operative associations began to offer more benefits, birth certificates became essential to the bureaucratic process of establishing both age and identity. But every time a birth certificate was produced, it made the private circumstances of an individual's birth public knowledge. For those born out of wedlock, handing over these certificates was often stigmatizing at a time when illegitimacy remained for many a shameful family secret...
2014: 20 Century British History
Barry Hazley
Over the past-20-years research into the experiences of Irish female migrants in twentieth century Britain has been steadily accumulating. Based largely on the use of oral history, this work has been important in shedding light on various aspects of women's experiences, including how young women negotiated unfamiliar urban spaces and asserted an 'ethnic' identity in England. The dynamics shaping the re/construction of such experiences, and what they can tell us about the fashioning of gendered migrant selves, has, by contrast, received relatively little attention...
2014: 20 Century British History
Gavin Schaffer
The Race Relations Act of 1965 has been remembered by historians as one prong of a governmental strategy to deal with the impact of black and Asian post-war immigration to Britain, an attempt to improve inter-group relations at the same time as efforts were being made to restrict Commonwealth immigration. This iconic Act was the first to criminalize racial discrimination and outlaw the incitement of racial hatred. This article focuses on the creation and use of one part of this new law, Section Six, the incitement clause...
2014: 20 Century British History
Christopher Hilliard
Twopenny libraries first appeared in North London in 1930 and quickly spread throughout urban Britain. Their innovation was to dispense with subscription fees and charge per loan. Unlike older commercial libraries such as Mudie's, twopenny libraries served a working-class clientele. Some twopenny libraries were standalone businesses. Many more were sidelines to existing businesses such as tobacconists' and newsagents' shops. Library services could be profitable in their own right, but often their main value to their proprietors was to bring customers into the shop more regularly...
2014: 20 Century British History
Helena See
The political scandals that beset the Conservative Party during the 1980s and 1990s constitute a valuable lens for examining two interrelated areas of study: the changing power relationship between government and press, and the changing interface between public and private in contemporary discourse. Close discursive analysis of the press coverage of these scandals--and of the libel actions that resulted from them--highlights the extent to which the Thatcher administration and the tabloid press propagated a shared moral discourse, founded on the repudiation of 'permissiveness', and a return to the ideal of the patriarchal nuclear family...
2013: 20 Century British History
Matt Cook
Through a thick description of a gay squatting community in south London in the 1970s, this piece explores the ways in which local histories complicate broader accounts of gay life, politics, and culture. Such a focus alerts us to the impact of personal encounters, of local politics, and material circumstances, of coincident local communities, of jobs (or the lack of them), and of major local events (like the Brixton riots of 1981). The local focus and the oral history sources also illuminate the complex ways in which unspoken and often unconscious imperatives associated with ethnicity, class, and the familial, social, and cultural contexts of our upbringings are played out under new and changing circumstances...
2013: 20 Century British History
Amanda M Bidnall
The history of New Commonwealth migration to Great Britain and its impact on British national identity have been the subjects of growing scholarly interest, but they are often viewed overwhelmingly in terms of racial tension and conflict, a perspective reinforced by the tendency to trace this history as a succession of crisis moments marked by violence and immigration restriction. This article instead focuses on an instance of cultural collaboration between two Trinidadian settler-artists, Edric and Pearl Connor, and Britain's premier cultural institution, the BBC...
2013: 20 Century British History
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