Monthly Archives: February 2022

Past & Present Author Featured in OUP “The History of Global Migration” Virtual Issue

by the Past & Present editorial team Past & Present is delighted to see that “The Social Networks of South Asian Migrants in the Sheffield Area During the Early Twentieth Century” by Dr. David Holland, which appeared in Past & Present No. 236 (August 2017) has been selected as part of our publisher Oxford University Press’ “The History of Global Migration” Virtual Issue. Dr. Holland’s article and all of the contents of the Virtual Issue are currently free to read.

The Poor, the Parish and the Momentum of the Machine

by Dr. Brodie Waddell (Birkbeck, University of London) In 1612, the Overseers of the Poor for Finchingfield in Essex spent just over £37 on payments to the parish’s poorest residents and related expenses. However, by the early 1650s they were spending over £100 every year and by the late 1690s average disbursements were over £200 annually. The payments kept rising in the decades to come, regularly exceeding £300 in the 1740s and hitting £543 in 1758.[1] Nearly half a century later, in response to a national survey into ‘the Expense and Maintenance of the Poor in England’, Finchingfield’s overseers reported that they spent £1,626 on ‘the whole Expenditure on Account of the Poor, in the Year ending Easter 1803’.[2] The story told by these figures is, in some ways, simple and well-known. Under the so-called ‘Old Poor Law’ governed English welfare provision from 1598 to 1834, parishes across England raised money through local taxes to offer relief to ‘their’ poor. The amount they raised and distributed varied hugely across different regions and could also occasionally rise or fall suddenly from year to year, but over these two centuries parishes undoubtedly spent larger and larger sums. Finchingfield’s growing expenditures were only […]

How I Came to Write “Transforming a Brazilian Aeronaut into a French Hero: Celebrity, Spectacle, and Technological Cosmopolitanism in the Turn-of-the-Century Atlantic”

by Dr. Patrick Luiz Sullivan De Oliveira (Singapore Management University) Back in 2012, during a break in my first year of graduate school, I found myself in my father’s travel agency in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. I remember stressing out over a thesis topic. I was planning to write about the creation of old cities in nineteenth-century France (the historical districts we know today as vieux Lyon, vieux Marseille, etc.) but was worried that the topic was overcrowded. I browsed through the bookshelf in his office as I vented (Figure 1), tracing my fingers over the spines of management tracts and history books (he’s always been a businessman with a humanist bent). One book in particular caught my attention: Peter Hoffman’s Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos-Dumont and the Invention of Flight, a popular biography of the Brazilian aviator published by an accomplished science writer in 2003. “This might be a fun read,” I thought to myself as I pocketed the book. A year later I was back at Princeton. I had just completed my general exams and anxiety levels concerning the thesis had reached new heights since, well, I now had to start working on it. I was certain about abandoning […]