Published: Sept. 22, 2022

Marjorie Levine-Clark, Professor of History and Associate Dean for Diversity, Outreach, and Initiatives, recently published a four-volume collection of British primary sources on Work and Unemployment, 1834-1911 (New York: Routledge, 2022), with extensive editorial commentary. The volumes explore the interdependent meanings attached to work and unemployment, working-class men’s and women’s experiences of work and unemployment, and the attempts of a variety of groups and individuals to frame those experiences. Mechanization and the decline of old trades, the creation of single-industry cities and towns, the migration of agricultural laborers from the countryside to these cities and to London, the intensification of the sweated industries, and the displacement of the labour of adult men by the labour of women and adolescent boys all contributed to urgent conversations about the relationships between work and unemployment that are examined through primary sources.

Levine-Clark also published the chapter “’Fish and Chips as an Excellent Food’: Newspapers, Nutrition, and Government Neglect in 1930s Britain,” in Lester Friedman and Therese Jones, eds. Routledge Handbook of Health and Media (New York: Routledge, 2022). This chapter argues that newspapers helped public health doctors promote the new science of nutrition to counter government claims about suitable unemployment benefit scales in relation to recommended diets. Nutritionists embarrassed the government and exposed its policies as unscientific and opposed to recommended best practices. Journalism’s power to expose government neglect of the people’s health is clearly a public good, but, as we know from COVID-19 and other health crises, newspapers and other media also have the power to spread unsafe misinformation about public health.