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Title: Mechanics' Institutes in Sussex and Hampshire, 1825 to 1875
Author: Sims, Jana Hilda
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 9086
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2010
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Mechanics' institutes were the first systematic attempt to provide adult education for the skilled working classes, with emphasis on science and mechanics at a time when the quest for knowledge was a concern of the labour aristocracy. Traditionally associated with the northern and industrial areas, recent scholarship has revealed thriving and multifarious institute activity in the south. Although part of the national movement, each institution was a unique creation of its own environment, with local and regional networks. Thomas Kelly's pioneering work identified where institutes existed. This study of Sussex and Hampshire draws together a range of sources to indicate the presence of many more mechanics' institutes. While some survived only a short time, others endured for seventy years or more, charting their own history of change, continuity and progress. Religious issues were prohibited at the institutes, but Unitarian influence was crucial in their development. Management structures varied and affected the success of individual institutes, combining with influential patrons and charismatic leaders to direct their public image and relationship with the media. By the 1830s, mechanics' institutes had also begun to attract the middle classes and the original strict scientific curriculum had been modified to include more general subjects. Scientific dominance however persisted in some institutions such as those at Lewes and Portsmouth. Music featured prominently as a cultural focus, whilst a spirit of civic pride was fostered through the institutions' buildings and social events. Women's roles changed from noninclusion to significant participation, encouraged by Unitarian/Quaker influences and pioneering female lecturers. By 1875, mechanics' institutes had initiated vital developments in adult educational progress and above all, cultivated a desire for learning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available