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  • The Untruthful Source: Writings, official and reform documentation 1900 - 1930

Ash, Juliet, 2010, Journal Article, The Untruthful Source: Writings, official and reform documentation 1900 - 1930 Working papers on Design, 4. pp. 1-14. ISSN 14705516

Abstract or Description:

Ash’s article, ‘The untruthful source: Prisoner’s writings, official and reform documentation, 1900–1930’, published following her 2009 book on prison dress, questions how myths arose about the history of prisoners’ clothing in Britain in the first half of the 20th century.

Ash shows that, although there was little critical writing about prisoners’ clothing in this period, the inmates’ own writing and archival documentation provide us with the means to achieve a new understanding of the political encounters played out in courtrooms. Ash’s research material included interwar Home Office circulars that announced the abolition of ‘broad arrow’ prison uniforms in 1920 and responses of prison governors that reveal their continuance after this date. Other key reform documents consulted by the author included those of Sidney and Beatrice Webb, Fenner Brockway’s 1922 Prison System Enquiry Committee Report, later published as English Prisons Under Local Government, which proposed radical prison reforms including the abolition of prison dress as criminal stigmatisation, and inmate testimonials of the continuance of the broad arrow uniform.

The article demonstrates the difficulty for design historians investigating prison dress in establishing the truth about specific penal reform dates and practices on the basis of official government documents alone. Ash argues that the publications of penal reformers and the prison writings of inmates at the time also need to be read, in order to establish the clothing prisoners actually wore in confinement.

Ash first presented this research as a paper to the 2009 Design History Society annual conference hosted by the theorising Visual Art and Design (tVAD) Research Group, School of Creative Arts, University of Hertfordshire. It was then selected to be peer reviewed and published in the University of Hertfordshire Working Papers on Design web-based journal.

Official URL: http://sitem.herts.ac.uk/artdes_research/papers/wp...
Subjects: Other > Historical and Philosophical studies > V300 History by topic > V320 Social History
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2012 10:38
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2013 13:46
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/847

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