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'Give my Love': Community and companionship among former Ragged School Scholars

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    Rights statement: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Family and Community History on 14 February 2019 available online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14631180.2018.1555956

    Accepted author manuscript, 390 KB, PDF document

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)166-179
JournalFamily and Community History
Early online date14 Feb 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Feb 2019


By 1884, forty years after its establishment, the London Ragged School Union estimated that 400,000 children had attended its schools. This article explores how former scholars perceived and engaged with their old ragged school community. Existing scholarship on the movement draws predominantly on its promotional literature or institutional documents, yielding limited access to the testimonies of the children themselves. As such, understanding of the children’s experiences and perspectives remains partial. Drawing on a collection of 227 letters from 57 former scholars of Compton Place Ragged School, this article offers new insights into the role that the school, its teachers, and its pupils could continue to play. The correspondence analysed here demonstrates the critical assistance teachers offered to those overseas by relaying messages and locating loved ones. Ragged school teachers acted as an important link to Britain, a source of stability during times of uncertainty. In the same way, correspondents connected their teachers and institutions to their peers by offering information as to their whereabouts and wellbeing. As such, the letters reveal the existence of ragged school networks in emigrant communities; friendships forged in the classroom continued and developed overseas.

    Research areas

  • emigration, education, friendship, family, letters, britain

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