Dr Alexander Wakelam (FRHistS)

I am a historian of Britain (1700-1900) researching the history of debt and “work” in society from economic and cultural perspectives. In particular my research has specialised in the history of debtors’ prisons, female business owners during the Industrial Revolution, and local council elections at the end of the nineteenth century as well as macro approaches to the Census (1851-1921).

I am currently a Research Associate in the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure at the University of Cambridge, working to create a digitised edition of the 1921 census as part of the I-CeM project.

Previously I was a Keynes Fund Research Associate in Economics at Cambridge constructing a database of men elected to local borough councils 1867-1900. This project combined newspaper reports of elections with census data to explore how the “supply side” of councillors (i.e. the social and economic background of politicians rather than their voters) impacted spending decisions such as on improved sanitation.

My first book Credit and Debt in Eighteenth-Century England – An Economic History of Debtors’ Prisons was published in July 2020 and I continue to work on insolvency in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain as well as the role of guilds and the experience of the Industrial Revolution for commercial women.

I have also provided consultation for TV, commercial partners, and charities on insolvency, the history of women, and occupational change and would be happy to speak on any similar topic.