The Crime of Poverty
The Rise and Fall of the Workhouse From Elizabethan England to Kansas City, Missouri
The paper provides brief history of workhouses from the 1500s to the early 1900s with a particular focus on workhouses in both England and Kansas City, Missouri. Through a historical review of various scholarly sources and newspaper archives, the oppression of impoverished people in the English workhouses is explored. The series of Elizabethan laws concerning the operation of workhouses and treatment of destitute citizens are discussed in order to demonstrate how these changes impacted the workhouse paradigm and the lives of paupers. Selected accounts from former workhouse residents are also provided in order to further contextualize what life was like within a workhouse. In addition, two workhouses in Kansas City are discussed in comparison to the English models, with the second of the two workhouses serving as a more compassionate and humane example of how the government should treat indigent citizens.
Faculty Mentor: Neal McNabb