Small Research Grants Winners

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Examples of awards made from the Carnevali Small Research Grants Scheme include those to:

Dr Chris Briggs (University of Cambridge)
Production and consumption in English peasant households, c.1300-c.1550

This Economic History Society small grant funds a pilot study intended to lay the groundwork for a larger research project on living standards in medieval England. Our ultimate aim is to gain better knowledge and understanding of the personal possessions of medieval rural people (their number, range, value), so that we can make comparisons with the probate inventories of later centuries. This work is interdisciplinary. We are using the EHS grant to establish the potential of two main categories of evidence, one written and one material. These are inventories of the goods and chattels of felons, fugitives and outlaws preserved in the royal archives, and archaeological finds from rural sites. By combining these two categories of evidence we hope to be able to overcome various weaknesses and omissions in each, and to ask new questions. The EHS grant has funded archival sampling and an investigation of the published and unpublished archaeological reports. This work is enabling us to get a better sense of the scope for a larger project at either the regional or national scale. Dr Matthew Tompkins is the archival researcher, Dr Ben Jervis is responsible for the survey of archaeological literature, and the project is overseen by Dr Chris Briggs.

Dr Nicole Robertson (University of Northumbria)
The office: British clerical workers and the labour market, 1920-1970

The period following the First World War saw a growth in the number of workers in white-collar jobs relative to those engaged in manual work. Within this group of white-collar workers one of the major changes in the labour force was the increasing numbers of clerical workers. This project will examine this transformation of clerical work in the period after 1920, situating developments and processes within the context of the growth of large-scale industrial organisations. The project focuses on the experience of clerks working in a variety of industries including railway, hosiery and mining. Using the records of clerical trade unions, Clerks’ Associations and employers of white-collar workers, the project will focus around three main themes: gender at work; patterns of work and career structure; and commercial education and new technology. 

The project will explore how clerical work contributes to an understanding of the labour market and the experience of employment by examining three major themes: the characteristics of female and male employment, and unemployment, in the twentieth century; the origins and development of low-grade, low-paid clerical work and pay differentials within this sector of white-collar employment; and the use of new technology in the workplace, the implications of this for clerical workers, and the way this was presented to (and received by) white-collar workers and their trade unions.

Economic recession and industrial restructuring have been important in bringing questions about experiences of work, and unemployment, to the fore. This project, by examining the nature, practice and conditions of clerical work, will inform important debates on social and economic history of waged work and pay in the twentieth century.

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