Booth's Poverty Map of London, 1892

Charles Booth, a successful businessman, created this map in the late 1800s. Booth believed that social reformers had exaggerated London's poverty levels - studies made at the time estimated that a quarter of the population lived in unacceptable conditions. In 1886, he decided to investigate, and began work on a new study of London's poor. His research revealed that the reality was even worse than official figures suggested: as many as one third of Londoners lived in poverty.

Booth's study entitled 'Life and Labour of the People in London' included this map. Using a colour code, the map represents varying levels of poverty in different districts across London: for example, Dark blue stands for 'Very poor. Casual, chronic want', while Black stands for 'Lowest class. Vicious, semi criminal.' As part of his research, Booth studied a wide variety of subjects: working conditions, education, wage levels, workhouses, religion, and police, to name a few. He also lived with working-class families for several weeks at a time, recognising that for poor families disease, hunger and even death were an ever-present danger, and that many lived in a constant state of fear.