The harsh realities of life in Victorian workhouses in London can now be studied online with records going back 170 years available on the internet for the first time.
Data uncovered from old archive records telling a unique story of our welfare system at the turn of the 20th century have now gone online.
The records evoke images of a time when anyone who could not support themselves was forced into the type of workhouses brought to life in Charles Dickensâ€™ classic Oliver Twist.
The records from the Poor Law Unions show how impoverished men, women and even children went to live in institutions doing tedious jobs in exchange for minimal food and board paid for by the parish Board of Guardians.
Workhouse conditions in parishes such as Stepney, Mile End, Poplar and Bethnal Green were deliberately unpleasant to discourage â€˜the idle poorâ€™ during an era of a harsh Victorian work ethics.
The records, including birth and death, admission and lunatic lists, are the first part of a collection of 77 million historical London records, covering four centuries from the 1500s to the 1900s, all being uploaded onto the Ancestry website.
â€œThereâ€™s every chance peopleâ€™s grandparents could have worked and lived in them,â€ said the websiteâ€™s Dan Jones.
â€œItâ€™s easy to forget that some of these workhouses were in existence until the Second World War.â€E.L.A