The 'history of everyday life' and democratic culture in Britain, 1918-1968

Carter, Laura Joyce 

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This thesis is a study of popular social history and education in mid-twentieth century Britain. It argues that the ‘history of everyday life’ was a guiding framework for how ‘ordinary’ people sought to understand themselves and the world around them in this period. The ‘history of everyday life’ told stories of how the ‘uneventful’ lives, practices, feelings, and social and material environments of individuals changed across generations. It was the dominant form of popular social history in Britain from 1918 to the end of the 1960s, and it flourished long before academic social history championed similar themes, in a different idiom and for very different audiences. This thesis follows the ‘history of everyday life’ across a range of public-facing, educational institutions that were interested in producing histories for a mass audience. It delves into the myriad ways in which ‘amateur’ historians (often women) produced and disseminated ‘everyday’ histories. The ‘history of everyday life’ was a flexible intellectual resource available to both the radical left and conservative right. Whilst still attending to this full political spectrum, this thesis shifts focus away from explicit ideologies to the visual, emotional, and practical elements of historical activity.

Mandler, Peter
Education, popular culture, social history, Britain
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge
Research for this thesis was funded by a studentship from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, award reference number 04167