‘Please pardon me for taking the liberty’: poverty letters as negotiating spaces in 1920s and 1930s Belfast and Dublin

Lindsey Earner-Byrne, Olwen Purdue*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

After the partition of Ireland and the foundation of Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State, Belfast and Dublin had become capital cities of two new states. For those struggling on the margins, however, this new-found statehood held little practical value. Through a close reading of ‘poverty letters’ written to political and religious leaders, this article explores how people articulated their need as they sought assistance and tried to define their understanding of poverty and its impact. By employing a comparative lens, it approaches these letters as social spaces in which people drew on wider cultural and political anxieties and motifs to perform belonging and identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)567-585
Number of pages19
Journal Cultural and Social History
Volume19
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2022

Keywords

  • shame
  • respectability
  • poverty
  • poverty letters
  • Catholic
  • Protestant
  • Ireland

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