About Me

Dr Amanda Wilkinson

Dr Amanda Wilkinson, BA, MA, PhD – Loves both Cats, and Dogs

My name is Amanda Wilkinson, and I am an economic and social historian. Although I started out on my studies as an Early Modernist, fascinated with the Tudor and Stuart kings and queens, the lords and ladies of the courts and the intrigue and politics of the time, I quickly realised that my real passion lay in researching ‘real’ people, the little people, the men and women who rarely leave any mark on history. My interest moved to the Victorian period, and, having discovered the censuses of England and Wales and fully appreciating the depth of information contained within them, well, the rest was, as they say, history. My BA and MA dissertations examined the growth and development of villages in Essex, considering the effect of middle-class ideologies on working-class fertility, and then my PhD shifted my attention to the work carried out by women in urban and rural locations in Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and then in London.

I completed my PhD in 2012, and was delighted to be awarded the Economic History Society Power Fellowship for 2013-2014, based at the IHR in London,  which is enabled me to extend my research further.  I am currently the Eastern ARC Research Fellow in Digital Humanities at the University of Essex, and my work now covers women who were living in rural and urban locations across the whole of England and Wales, delving deeper into the different occupations carried out by these normal, working-class married women, and challenging the current understanding of the reliability of the census to record women’s work. I  also teach at the University of Essex, sharing my love of history with my students, and am part of the admissions team for the department.

I’m hoping that here, in my blog, I can share some of the research that I have carried out over the years into different women’s occupations, and to give a voice to these women and a chance to tell their stories. I hope in the coming months to create a resource detailing the types of work women were carrying out, showing how their wages were affected by changes beyond their control, and giving information from multiple sources including the newspapers and contemporary surveys.

16 comments on “About Me

  1. Dr. Jana Sims on

    I’m most interested in your work Amanda and was coming to your seminar at IHR today. My researches involve Mechanics’ Institutes in the south east and I’m presently writing a book based on my PhD thesis. One chapter is dedicated to women at the MIs and how they managed to gain entry to these male dominated citadels. Using the census/newspapers/MI archives, I’ve uncovered surprising evidence that contradicts some of the traditional views of women’s lives and work. Please can you let me know of papers/books you’ve published so that I can read about your work.

  2. Cynthia Pelman on

    Dear Amanda,
    I am researching the artificial flower makers who lived in the John Grooms orphanage and “crippleage”; do you have any references you could suggest? Many thanks, Cynthia Pelman

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  3. Sue Howlett on

    Hi Amanda
    I am in Australia and we are looking at the Industrial Revolution – I have students who are really interested in finding out how much clothing cost to purchase – ie a woman’s gown would cost ???? We can find out from your site about the person making it and what s/he earned but would be really interested in the purchase prices of things from tailors and dressmakers.

    • Amanda Wilkinson on

      Hi Sue, one of the really good places to look is at contemporary newspapers – they tend to have advertisements by shops for shirts, dresses, skirts, hats etc – they vary a lot dependent upon quality and material, but generally in the mid 1800s you’d be looking to pay somewhere in the region of 20 shillings for six shirts, or 6-7s a piece (bearing in mind a shirt seamstress was paid around 3d per piece) There is loads of information about changing fashions and changing costs – I’ll likely write a blog article about it soon, but your students would certainly benefit from looking through 19th C newspapers to read the advertisements and see how prices changed. The other thing to bear in mind is that its generally only the middle and upper classes buying these clothes – the working class tended to buy second hand – there was a huge market in second hand clothing – you see it mentioned a lot in court reports too (again, check the newspapers) – lots of places to look – hope that helps, Amanda 🙂

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