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Title: The housing experience of the working classes, 1790-1970 : the potential of the combined approach of archaeology, the historical record and oral history
Author: Massheder-Rigby, K.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 2021
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2019
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Although the discipline of archaeology has a lengthy tradition of using oral testimony, particularly the testimony of Indigenous communities, it has yet to be applied fully and in a meaningful way within global historical archaeology. Frequently interdisciplinary, archaeology cannot work alone, and works best alongside other sources to enhance and strengthen our understanding of the past. This thesis explores the potential for a combined approach of archaeology, the historic record and oral history to investigate the recent past. Despite an abundance of literature on eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century working class housing, a period that experienced rapid urban expansion, and the responses to the issues that arose as a result, there is an absence of testimony about housing from those with a lived experience. This thesis uses archaeological site reports, documentary research from primary historical sources and testimony from oral history interviews to enhance our understanding of the housing experience of the working classes from 1790-1970. Case studies are a common method of interpreting the archaeology of households and housing. In this thesis three case studies are presented; court housing in Liverpool (1790-1970), back-to-back housing in Hungate, York (1812-1936) and small-scale employer provided housing in Glasgow (1837-1966). The Liverpool case study (chap. 4) identified that nineteenth century accounts of court housing dominate the historic literature as insanitary, overcrowded, dilapidated and slum-like and this research, via the oral history testimony, introduces an alternative, twentieth century account of court housing. The Hungate, York case study (chap. 5) demonstrates the potential of bringing together different bodies of evidence, collected at different times and by different organisations, to reinvestigate a neighbourhood historically labelled as a slum. The Glasgow case study (chap. 6) provided an opportunity to test the combined approach of archaeology and oral history without the historic record as no documentary evidence for the Lower English Buildings site was uncovered. This thesis outlines the ways in which the combined approach might be used in the future, demonstrating its value to enhance our understanding of an archaeological site. Encouraging the use of oral history within archaeology in the UK should be a priority for archaeologists, particularly historical archaeologists where oral history has the most potential to collaborate, and this thesis suggests how this can be achieved.
Supervisor: Sinclair, Anthony ; Milne, Graeme Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral