Books behind Bars: The Role of Books, Reading, and Libraries in British Prison Reform, 1701-1911

Books behind Bars: The Role of Books, Reading, and Libraries in British Prison Reform, 1701-1911

Books behind Bars: The Role of Books, Reading, and Libraries in British Prison Reform, 1701-1911

Books behind Bars: The Role of Books, Reading, and Libraries in British Prison Reform, 1701-1911

Synopsis

This is a unique study of the role of books and libraries in British prisons during the period of penal reforms between 1700 and 1911. Fyfe discusses the role of groups and individuals who advanced the ideology of reform as well as those who were actively engaged in bringing reading material into the jails and prisons of Great Britain. She examines the extent that different penal institutions and systems--including not only local jails and national prisons but also convict settlements and the hulks--came to adopt the use of books and libraries and their rationales for doing so. One of the author's most valuable contributions to the field is her rich bibliography of primary sources.

Excerpt

The research for this book was carried out with the assistance of a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. I wish to thank that body for continued support over many years.

As with all historical research, little could have been done without the dedicated work of large numbers of anonymous archivists and librarians. I made heavy use of the Public Record Office at Kew, the Scottish Record Office, the British Library, the National Library of Scotland, and many other repositories whose staffs were invariably courteous and helpful. In particular, my debt to the archivists of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, the Society of Friends (Friends House, Euston Road, London), Gloucestershire Record Office, and the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick, is large.

In preparing the manuscript for publication, I received invaluable help with computer problems from Beth Tu and John Fracasso, School of Library and Information Science, and Judy Steward, Computing and Communications Services, University of Western Ontario. Tom Rush gave kindly advice on the final printing.

For their encouragement and interest in this undertaking, I am grateful to the past and present students in the Historical Studies area of the doctoral program and to the members of the History Interest Group, School of Library and Information Science, University of Western Ontario.

Finally, I wish to thank Lynn Taylor and Diane Spalding of Greenwood Press for the patient attention with which they guided the manuscript through its various stages.

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