Class, Gender and Respectability Group

The Class, Gender and Respectability Group (part of the Centre for Historical Research) seeks to explore new and innovative ways of examining the social, cultural and economic history of modern Britain. Members of the Group do so by considering the development of class and gender identities during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and by investigating in particular the ways in which such identities have been strengthened, undermined and modified by variables such as age, region, marital status, work, culture and respectability. We believe that something of the range – and the success – of these initiatives can be seen in the books (articles, chapters and other publications) that we have produced in recent years.

Members of the group also have longstanding interests in British coal mining and the political history of the British labour movement, and are developing new research in biography, identity, working-class communities and popular culture and music

Research Group Coordinator

Dr Margaret Ponsonby's research interests centre on domestic interiors and homemaking in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and the representation of interiors in historic houses open to the public.

Group members

Honorary research fellows

Research projects

The Centre for the History of Retailing and Distribution (CHORD)

Pursuing a vigorous programme of interdisciplinary events, workshops and conferences, CHORD is a successful and internationally-recognised initiative. Led by Dr Laura Ugolini, it acts as a point of contact for scholars worldwide interested in this growing area of research.

The Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities, 1550 to 1800

Led by Nancy Cox (n.c.cox@wlv.ac.uk) and Karin Dannehl (k.dannehl2@wlv.ac.uk), this is a long-term and well-established project to produce an electronic dictionary of commodity terms in early modern trade, together with a broad range of supplementary material that sheds light on the cultures and practices of distribution in early modern England. This online dictionary, which includes entries for more than 4000 terms used to label and describe traded goods in early modern England, is published by British History Online. The dictionary is available online at www.british-history.ac.uk/source.asp?pubid=739

The Dictionary of Labour Biography

Published since 1971, the thirteen-volume dictionary brings together work by researchers in Britain, Europe, the United States and Australia. Now published by Palgrave and jointly edited by Keith Gildart (keith.gildart@wlv.ac.uk), the Dictionary has an established reputation as a reference and research tool for scholars of nineteenth- and twentieth-century British history. Covering a wide range of periods and political traditions, recent volumes have paid especial attention to the contributions of women and the multi-nationality of the British labour movement, drawing also on the revolution in Communist studies that followed the opening up of Russian archives. Further volumes are in the planning stages.

Research areas

  • Retailing, Trade and Distribution History since 1500
  • 19th Century Working-Class History and Coal mining Communities
  • Early Modern and Modern Consumption, Consumer Cultures and Identities
  • Biography and Autobiography in History
  • Hawaiian Economic and Business History
  • German-American Jewish history in the 19th and early 20th centuries
  • Domestic Interiors and Homemaking in the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Representation of Interiors in Historic Houses Open to the Public
  • Dress and Textile History since 1700
  • Male Civilian Lives and Identities during the First World War
  • 20th Century Youth Culture and Popular Music

Research Degrees

Interested in studying for a research degree in one of these areas? Contact Dr Laura Ugolini at l.ugolini@wlv.ac.uk

Selected publications

Recent publications include:

  • John Benson (ed.), Health and Accidents, Coal in Victorian Britain, vol. 5 (Pickering and Chatto, 2012).
  • John Benson, ‘Domination, subordination and struggle: middle-class marriage in early twentieth-century Wolverhampton’, Women’s History Review, 19 (3) 2010.
  • John Benson, The Wolverhampton Tragedy: Death and the ‘Respectable’ Mr Lawrence (Carnegie, 2009).
  • Nancy Cox and Karin Dannehl, ‘Colors in trade: the palette of the goods and commodities of early-modern England’, Eighteenth-Century Studies Journal, 16, 2009.
  • Karin Dannehl ‘Object biographies: from production to consumption’ in Karen Harvey (ed.), History and Material Culture. A Student's Guide to Approaching Alternative Sources (Routledge, 2009).
  • Keith Gildart, Images of England through Popular Music: Class, Youth and Rock ‘n’ Roll, 1955-1976. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013
  • Keith Gildart (ed.) Industrial Relations and Trade Unionism: Coal in Victorian Britain, Vol. 6 (Pickering and Chatto, 2012).
  • Keith Gildart and David Howell (eds) Dictionary of Labour Biography, Vol. XIII (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
  • Keith Gildart, ‘Coal strikes on the Home Front: miners’ militancy and socialist politics in the Second World War’, Twentieth Century British History, 20 (2) 2009.
  • Richard Hawkins, 'The Marketing of Legal Services in the United States, 1860-1914: A Case Study of Guggenheimer, Untermyer & Marshall of New York and the Predecessor Partnerships', American Journal of Legal History (forthcoming in 2013).
  • Richard Hawkins, A Pacific Industry: The History of Pineapple Canning in Hawaii, (I.B. Tauris, 2011).
  • Richard Hawkins, ‘The “Jewish Threat” and the origins of the American surveillance state: a case study of the Untermyer Family’, Australian Journal of Jewish Studies, XXIV, 2010.
  • Richard Hawkins, ‘Advertising and the Hawaiian Pineapple canning industry, 1929-39’, Journal of Macromarketing, 29 (2) 2009.
  • David Hussey, ‘Leisure and Industry: The Hotwell and the Port of Bristol, 1750-1850’ in S. Poole, ed., A City Built upon the Water (Bristol: Redcliffe/Regional History Centre, UWE, 2013.
  • David Hussey and Margaret Ponsonby, The Single Homemaker and Material Culture in the Long Eighteenth Century (Ashgate, 2012).
  • David Hussey, ‘From the temple of Hygeia to the sordid devotees of Pluto. The Hotwell and Bristol: resort and port in the eighteenth century’. in P. Borsay and J. Walton (eds), Resorts and Ports: European Seaside Towns since 1700 (Channel View Publications, 2011).
  • David HusseyGuns, horses and stylish waistcoats?  Male consumer activity and domestic shopping in late eighteenth and nineteenth century England’, in David Hussey and Margaret Ponsonby (eds), Buying for the Home: Shopping for the Domestic from the Seventeenth Century to the Present (Ashgate, 2008).
  • Ian Mitchell, ‘Supplying the masses: retailing and town governance in Macclesfield, Stockport and Birkenhead, 1780-1860’, Urban History, 38 (2) 2011.
  • Ian Mitchell, ‘Innovation in non-food retailing in the early nineteenth century: the curious case of the bazaar’, Business History 52 (6) 2010.
  • Margaret Ponsonby, The Single Homemaker and Material Culture in the Long Eighteenth Century (co-authored with David Hussey) Ashgate, 2012
  • Margaret Ponsonby, ‘Textiles and time: reactions to aged and conserved textiles in historic houses open to the public in England and the USA’, Textile History 42 (2) (2011).
  • Margaret Ponsonby,  (with Clive Edwards), ‘The polarisation of the second hand market for furniture in the nineteenth century’, in Jon Stobart and Ilja van Damme (eds.), Modernity and the Second-hand Trade: European Consumption Cultures and Practices, 1700-1900 (Palgrave, 2010).
  • Margaret Ponsonby, (with Clive Edwards),  ‘Desirable commodity or practical necessity? The sale and consumption of second-hand Furniture, 1750-1900’, in David Hussey and Margaret Ponsonby (eds), Buying for the Home: Shopping for the Domestic from the Seventeenth Century to the Present (Ashgate, 2008).
  • Alison Toplis, The Clothing Trade in Provincial England, 1800-1850 (Pickering and Chatto, 2011).
  • Alison Toplis, ‘The illicit trade in clothing, Worcestershire and Herefordshire, 1800-1850’, Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, 2 (3) 2010.
  • Laura Ugolini, Civvies: Middle-Class Men on the English Home Front, 1914–18, Manchester University Press, 2013.
  • Laura Ugolini, ‘Growing fat? Middle-class men and food consumption on the English home front, 1914-1918’, Food & History, 10 (1) 2012.
  • Laura Ugolini, ‘The illicit consumption of military uniforms in Britain, 1914-1918’, Journal of Design History, 24 (2) 2011.
  • Laura Ugolini,  ‘Consumers to combatants? British uniforms and identities, 1914–18’, Fashion Theory, 14(2) 2010.