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Object of the Month April 2011

Object of the Month April 2011

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Published by Museum of London
Each month we feature a different item relating to the Museum with a unique story to tell.
Each month we feature a different item relating to the Museum with a unique story to tell.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Museum of London on Apr 04, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Object of the month for April 2011

Each month we will feature a different item relating to the Museum with a unique story to tell.

Charles Booth's Map of Poverty

Image copyright Museum of London

Inspired by our upcoming Hand-drawn London display in the Museum foyer, this April’s Object of the Month takes a closer look at Charles Booth’s Descriptive map of London Poverty. Between 1886 and 1903 philanthropist Charles Booth worked with a team of assistants to produce a series of maps of the capital as part of his survey into life and labour in London. The map set out to identify the social character of every street in London through colour coding. Eight different colours were used to identify 8 different classes of society: a street coloured black represented the lowest class, vicious and semi-criminal; dark blue signalled the very poor and casual labourers in chronic want; light blue the 'poor' with an income of 18s to 21s a week for a moderate family; a purple street was one with a mixed social class – with some comfortable and others poor; a pink street was 'fairly comfortable with good ordinary earnings’; a red street middle class and 'well-to-do'; whilst a yellow or gold street housed mainly upper-middle and upper class, wealthy families.

This version of the map, published between 1889 and 1891, stretches as far as Great Eagle Street in the North West, Octagon Street in the North East, George Street in the South East, and Queen Street in the South West. The Museum of London acquired the map in the 1920s. Originally composed of four large sections but was cut into 60 sections in the 1970s. You can find a number of the smaller sections on display in the People’s City gallery of the Museum alongside an interactive, touch-screen version of the map that will help you to locate London’s streets and compare how they have changed.

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