Humphrey Southall (Portsmouth Univ., UK)
Department of Geography, Portsmouth University,
Buckingham Building, Lion Terrace,
PORTSMOUTH PO1 3HE, ENGLAND
Tel: +44 (23) 92 842500
Although my research has always been historical, my career has been within the academic discipline of geography. I graduated in geography from the University of Cambridge in 1976 and then spent a year as a Special Student in economics at Harvard University in the U.S., before returning to Cambridge as a research student. In 1979 I was appointed to a lectureship in geography at Queen Mary College, University of London. I obtained my Ph.D. from Cambridge in 1984, on the subject of ‘Regional Unemployment Patterns in Britain, 1851-1914: a study of the "Trade Union Percentages", with special reference to engineering workers’. At the start of 2000, I became a Reader in Geography at the University of Portsmouth, on England’s south coast.
I currently hold a Research Fellowship from the Economic and Social Research Council, and during 2001 I will be a Visiting Fellow at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. I am a member of the Advisory Committee for the History Data Service based at the University of Essex, and of the UK Office of National Statistics 2001 Census Academic Advisory Group.
H.R. Southall, ‘The Origins of the Depressed Areas: Unemployment, Growth, and Regional Economic Structure in Britain before 1914’, Economic History Review, 2nd series, Vol. 41 (1988), pp. 236-258.
H.R. Southall, ‘The tramping artisan revisits: labour mobility and economic distress in early Victorian England’, Economic History Review, 2nd series, Vol. 44 (1991), pp. 272-96.
D.M.Gilbert and H.R.Southall, ‘Les Multiples Dimensions de la Misere: les manifestations de la pauvrette d’origine economique en Grande-Bretagne, a la fin de la periode Victoriene’, (‘Dimensions of Distress: Manifestations of economic hardship in late Victorian Britain’) in M. Mansfield, R.Salais and N.Whiteside (eds.) Aux sources du chomage (Editions Bélin, Paris, 1994), pp.213-50.
A.Charlesworth, D.M.Gilbert, A.Randall, H.R.Southall, and C.J.Wrigley, An Atlas of Industrial Protest, 1750-1985 (Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1996).
H.R.Southall, ‘Agitate! Agitate! Organise!: Political travellers and the construction of a national politics, 1839-1880’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, New Series, vol.21 (1996), pp.177-93.
I.N. Gregory and H.R. Southall, ‘Putting the Past in Its Place: the Great Britain Historical GIS’, in Carver, S (ed.) Innovations in GIS 5 (Taylor & Francis, London, 1998), pp.210-21.
Humphrey Southall: Current Research
I am Director of the Great Britain Historical GIS Project, which began in 1994 and has had a very complex funding history. It currently employs five staff and five IT trainees. Our goals are:
- The construction of a Geographical Information System (GIS) containing an integrated assembly of census, vital registration and electoral data for Great Britain over the last 200 years, plus the boundaries of the changing reporting units. For England and Wales, our GIS records the changing boundaries of c. 630 Registration Districts between c. 1840 and 1911; c. 1,800 Local Government Districts between 1911 and 1974; and c. 15,000 Civil Parishes between 1876 and 1974.
- The dissemination of the individual components of this system via Internet-accessible on-line services operated by the History Data Service at Essex and the UKBORDERS census unit, together with network access to the core resource by selected users. See:
- The identification of long-run spatial trends in medical need, demography, local economies, social structure and electoral behaviour. In particular, we are using the GIS to research the detailed local chronology of mortality decline within Britain: past research has usually stopped in 1911 simply because in that year the reporting units changed completely, but we can construct new time series recording Infant Mortality and Standardised Mortality Ratios for consistent geographical areas. In the longer term, we are researching the role of various public health measures in achieving this decline.
- The communication of these finding to a wide audience through novel visualisation techniques, such as animated population cartograms. We are hoping to create a paper atlas to mark the bi-centenary of the first census of 1801, but in the longer term we want to create an electronic atlas, accessible by users in British schools and public libraries, which will also give access to the underlying data. To date, we have only been funded to research the necessary methodologies, but some of the results can be seen at:
- The dissemination of GIS-based tools and methodologies among the community of historical researchers: Web sites, newsletters, short courses, workshops & conference sessions (such as the meeting in Florence!).
- The origins of Britain’s north-south divide: For many years, I have been researching the history of local unemployment rates within Britain, and the evolution of ‘spatial divisions of labour’. While it is often assumed that in 19th century Britain the most prosperous towns were in the industrial north, my research shows that these towns had high unemployment and poor health long before 1914; it also reveals the extreme occupational specialisation of many industrial communities. More recently I have become increasingly interested in the political dimension of the divide: the emerging Labour Party was based mainly in the north.
- Individual mobility in 19th century Britain: combining working-class autobiographies and nominal linkage of trade union membership records, as well as census data, I am tracing the movement around Britain of individual workers, from the 1830s onwards. This research demonstrates very high levels of mobility, often in forms which would not be recorded by the census. It also shows that artisans developed wide contact networks, so they could often visit friends and relatives as they moved from town; and this helps explain their leadership role within new social and political movements.
- Trade unions and the creation of the Welfare State: my research into unemployment and mobility uses the records of early trade union mutual welfare systems, and I have become increasingly interested in their contribution to the development of Britain’s Welfare State.