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About the Cambridge Group

About the Cambridge Group

The Cambridge Group for the History of Population & Social Structure was founded in 1964. In the fifty years since then, members of the Group have made a spectacular series of discipline-transforming contributions to social science history. These include work on historical demography and household structure, on the interdependence of these elements with welfare systems, and on occupational structure.

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The occupational structure of Britain 1379-1911

The occupational structure of Britain 1379-1911

This research program directed by Leigh Shaw-Taylor and Amy Erickson aims ultimately to reconstruct the evolution of the occupational structure of Britain from the late medieval period down to the early twentieth century.

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Population

Population

Our research seeks to understand the demographic pressures and choices people in past societies experienced, from the medieval period to the recent past. We focus primarily on the population history of the world's first industrial nation, Britain, understood within the context of European and global developments.

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Economy

Economy

Radical changes in the form and location of economic activity, income and wealth have occurred in Britain and Europe in various phases from Medieval times up to the present. These affected personal economic opportunity, the occupational choices of the population, their welfare, mobility, skills, consumption and demographic structures. These in turn influenced the development of business growth and innovation, and the economies of localities, regions and nations.

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Society

Society

Welfare systems both past and present rely upon a combination of support supplied by kin and charity, either legally enforced or voluntary. This research theme is concerned with exploring the demographic, legal and economic underpinnings of past welfare regimes in order to throw light on the different strategies which societies have adopted to support their most vulnerable members. More broadly, this research theme encompasses the economic and social implications of demographic change.

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New publication: Built-up areas of nineteenth-century Britain

15th May, 2024

 

"Built-up areas of nineteenth-century Britain: An integrated methodology for extracting high-resolution urban footprints from historical maps" has been published in Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History.

Using both "off the shelf" remote sensing software, machine learning, and computational algorithms, this article details a new methodology to extract building and urban footprints from historical maps. The developed methods can now be applied to other maps and regions to provide useful quantitative data for analysing long-term urban development. The code and data created are made available with the article.

Open call to help map out London history

25th April, 2024

 

A new easy-to-use website designed with the University of Cambridge has been launched to help place fire insurance policies from 1700s to 1865 onto a digital map. After more than two years of digitisation – covering around 550,000 policy entries – this vast resource is now helping to build a clearer picture of how London looked hundreds of years ago. "This project is both important from a heritage perspective and a scientific one", said project lead and Campop senior researcher Dr Alexis Litvine.

Launch of Economies Past website

5th April, 2024

 

The Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure has launched a new interactive website www.economiespast.org which allows user to map occupational structure from 1600-1911 and 2011.

RGS podcast with Prof Alice Reid

8th March, 2024

 

The Royal Geographical Society has published a podcast featuring Professor Alice Reid, who talks about how fertility, mortality and health affected changes in the UK's population in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The RGS have also produced associated teaching materials for Key Stage 4.

Wealthy businesswomen, marriage and succession in eighteenth-century London

22nd February, 2024

 

A new article by Amy Erickson, 'Wealthy businesswomen, marriage and succession in eighteenth-century London' is published in Business History 66:1 (2024), on open access.

It starts from the business cards of individual women, and traces them over their lifespan. At this social level, marriage appears to have had no impact on women's business careers, and widows maintained proprietorship of the joint enterprises they had run with their husbands for decades after their sons' majority.

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  • 22nd May 2024:
    Regional Variation of GDP per Head within China, 1080-1850: Implications for the Great Divergence Debate. Details…
  • 23rd May 2024:
    The intoxicant economy in early modern England. Details…
  • 29th May 2024:
    Plague strikes back: The Pestis Secunda of 1361–62 and its demographic consequences in England and Wales . Details…
  • 5th June 2024:
    TBC. Details…