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The Penn Press list for spring 2021 includes hardcover releases, first-time paperbacks, and ebook editions intended for scholars, students, and serious general readers worldwide. Click here to explore our forthcoming books, grouped by subject area.

The Uses of Charity
The Poor on Relief in the Nineteenth-Century Metropolis

Edited by Peter Mandler

264 pages | 6 x 9 | 2 illus.
Cloth 1990 | ISBN 9780812282146 | $79.95s | Outside the Americas £64.00
Ebook 2016 | ISBN 9781512804102 | Buy from Combined Academic Publishers £64.00
An Anniversary Collection volume

Who were the poor of the world's first metropolises, and how did they survive? This collection of eight original essays proposes a revisionist perspective on poverty and its relief in the nineteenth-century city, emphasizing the position of women and children and the importance of charity and welfare in their lives.

Historians have tended to focus on the motives and achievements of the benefactors and institutions, in part because donors left behind such rich documentation. These essays, taking their cue from recent trends in the social sciences, address charity "from below," as experienced from the point of view of the recipients, and challenge assumptions about the "marginality" and "dependency" of the poor.

The authors find that the demand for charity was constant, that the forms in which it was offered rarely matched the forms in which it was needed, that the poor used considerable ingenuity in adapting both the gifts and themselves to meet their needs, and that their attitudes toward charity often were not what either donors or historians have believed.

The Uses of Charity is a valuable resource for students and scholars of history, anthropology, sociology, and women's studies.

Peter Mandler is Professor of Modern Cultural History, and Bailey College Lecturer in History, at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge.

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