Britain: British Society 1890-1918 - Working Conditions And Social Reformers In The 1890s

Students of GCSE History will learn about British society in different periods. One timespan studied is from the 1890s to the end of World War I. One aspect of British society that will be looked at is the poor working conditions of the time and the social reformers who tried to improve them.

Working conditions in the Britain of the 1890s were generally poor. However, prominent social reformers sought to discover the facts about popular poverty, before suggesting measures that could deal with it.

Find out more about the working conditions and social reformers of the 1890s by playing this quiz.

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  1. Which was the largest area of female employment in 1900?
    Many women went out to work at this time, but the choice of jobs was restrictive
  2. What was the school leaving age in 1900?
    Reformers argued that Britain's industrial competitors, like Germany, were pulling ahead on account of their better education systems and higher school leaving age
  3. The coal-mining industry employed nearly a million miners in 1900, but health and safety issues were serious. What was the average number of miners killed in industrial accidents per year during the 1890's?
    Miners died in explosions, as a result of poor air quality and from pit falls
  4. Dock workers were recruited by the casual system. What did this involve?
    The docks, especially in London, employed large numbers of men, but there was little security of employment
  5. What was the average life expectancy in Britain around 1900 for both sexes?
    Poor housing conditions and lack of access to medical care brought the average life expectancy below that of some of Britain's competitors. Men had a life expectancy of 47 and women of 50 in 1900
  6. Which social reformer calculated that the proportion of Londoners in poverty was around 30%? He began work in 1886 and researched the topic for the next 17 years.
    Years of research were needed to produce a full set of data
  7. In which English city did Seebohm Rowntree carry out research into poverty, which yielded similar results to those of Booth?
    Many industrial cities, especially in the North and the Midlands, had similar rates of poverty to the East End of London
  8. Which of the following organisations provided all-round charitable care to poor people in the 1890s?
    As there was - as yet - no state provision, private charities shouldered the burden of mass poverty
  9. In 1899 recruitment began for enlistment in the British army for service in the Boer War. What proportion of volunteers was rejected on the grounds of poor health and physique?
    The army could not take recruits below a basic level of fitness
  10. In 1891 an Education Act was passed. What was its major feature?
    There was a widespread feeling among reformers that Britain lagged behind its rivals in state educational provision

Author: Edward Towne

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