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'A "Permanent Environment of Brightness, Warmth, and Homeliness": Domesticity and Authority in a Victorian Children's Institution'

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Claudia Soares



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Oxford University Press, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Nineteenth-century children’s welfare institutions have rarely been understood as functioning as a home – we know little about the role that domesticity played in the everyday lives of child inmates and how it could shape inmates’ sense of being at home. This article uses The Waifs and Strays Society, a charitable children’s institution, founded in 1881, as a case study to examine how ideas of home and ‘homeliness’ featured in institutions for poor children. The article builds on material culture approaches to highlight the relationship between institutional authority practices in relation to home life, and to better understand the role of the material world as a controlling force within the institution. The article challenges the pervasiveness of conclusions that children’s welfare institutions were little concerned with providing a homely environment for inmates, and offers new understandings of a different strand of welfare provision for children that held particular cultural and ideological meaning, beyond aspects of institutional discipline and reform.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Soares C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Victorian Culture

Year: 2018

Volume: 23

Issue: 1

Pages: 1-24

Print publication date: 25/01/2018

Acceptance date: 01/01/2018

Date deposited: 17/01/2022

ISSN (print): 1355-5502

ISSN (electronic): 1750-0133

Publisher: Oxford University Press


DOI: 10.1093/jvc/vcx005


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