Exhibition: A Time for Revolutions: Making the Welfare State

This exhibition runs from Mon, 8th Jan 2018 to Fri, 13th Apr 2018. See all dates

This event runs over several days/weeks. Dates include:

This exhibition has finished.

Cost: Free of Charge

The 75th anniversary of the Beveridge report will be marked by an exhibition that begins with the Beveridge Report but looks at how welfare provision has been shaped and changed through the ages.

In December 1942 the government released a report authored by Sir William Beveridge that laid the foundations for Britain’s post war welfare state while the world was still at war.

Amongst the items displayed are materials from Beveridge’s own archives which are held at the LSE.

These include a telegram from Buckingham Palace, sent just days after the release of the report, inviting Sir William to meet with the King. The report’s breadth and impact spanned social classes and the display includes letters written to Beveridge from pensioners, and those still fighting on the front line, along with requests from the international press hungry for interviews with the now famous economist.

Prior to 1942, the exhibition displays items that illustrate the various laws which governed poor relief and the impact they could have on people’s lives. One summary of legislation from the eighteenth century includes a clause which made it legal to force people who had claimed poor relief to wear a badge sewn onto their shoulder in the form of a large ‘P’.

A letter sent from the Poor Law Board in Whitehall to a local Poor Union branch, for example, details the case of an individual who, on losing employment, was faced with the prospect of two of his children being taken into a workhouse until he found work again. The growing challenge to the poor laws by the late nineteenth and early twentieth century is also demonstrated with pieces from LSE founders Beatrice and Sidney Webbs’ papers alongside Joseph Rowntree’s famous study of poverty and a rousing speech given by the then Chancellor, David Lloyd George, in order to loudly and publically garner support for his Liberal reform budget.

The exhibition also examines Beveridge’s legacy; there are items from a variety of academics associated with LSE: Brian Abel Smith, Richard Titmuss and Peter Townsend who all pushed for the expansion of welfare provision and countered arguments from those against it.

A speech from Margaret Thatcher as well as a policy document from a group of her advisors clearly reveal the shift brought on by Thatcher’s Conservative Party, which saw the slow decline and cuts to social services which have dominated discourse ever since.

Contact and Booking Details

More information at this website.

No need to book tickets - just turn up on the day.


LSE Library,

10 Portugal Street,

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