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Dr Sian Pooley

Dr Sian Pooley

Mark Kaplanoff Fellow in History, Pembroke College

Temporary Lecturer in British Economic and Social History since 1700

Pembroke College
Cambridge CB2 1RF

Research Interests

My research interests lie in nineteenth- and twentieth-century British social and cultural history. In particular, my research explores issues relating to family, intimacy and fertility; childhood and youth; and cultures of literacy, community and citizenship in modern Britain. My doctoral thesis focused on parenthood and child-rearing in England, c.1860-1910, and I am currently working on turning this into a monograph. I have a broader interest in the question of how social and cultural change - and continuity - happen. As part of this, I am currently convening an interdisciplinary seminar series on generational change in reproductive cultures, which explores how practices and values of parenting have been forgotten, rejected, reinterpreted or inherited between generations. I am also starting a new research project looking at understandings of childhood and children’s writing in the popular press before 1939.

Research Supervision

I am open to research proposals from potential M.Phil. or Ph.D. students who are hoping to work on topics in modern British social and cultural history with connections to my own research interests. From October 2014, I will not be available to supervise students in Cambridge.


I teach paper 10 (British Economic and Social History 1700-1880) and paper 11 (British Economic and Social History since c.1880) for Part I of the Historical Tripos. I supervise Part II dissertations on modern British social and cultural history. As part of the M.Phil. in Economic and Social History, I teach the advanced paper on 'Family, identity and social change since 1850' and contribute to the central concepts course. I enjoy using my research to teach visiting school groups, especially as part of access and widening participation initiatives.

Key Publications

  • Pooley, S. 'Parenthood, child-rearing and fertility in England, 1850-1914', The History of the Family, 18:1 (2013), pp. 83-106.
  • Pooley, S. ‘“All we parents want is that our children’s health and lives should be regarded”: child health and parental concern in England, c.1860-1910’, Social History of Medicine, 23:3, (2010), pp. 528-48.
  • Pooley, S. ‘Child care and neglect: a comparative local study of late nineteenth century parental authority’, in L. Delap, B. Griffin and A. Wills (eds), The Politics of Domestic Authority in Britain, 1800-2000 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), pp. 223-42.
  • Pooley, S. ‘Domestic servants and their urban employers: a case study of Lancaster 1880-1914’, Economic History Review, 62: 2 (2009), pp. 405-29.
  • Pooley, C.G., Pooley, S., and Lawton, R. (eds) The diary of Elizabeth Lee: growing up on Merseyside in the late-nineteenth century (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2010).
  • Pooley, C.G. and Pooley, S., ‘Constructing a suburban identity: youth, femininity and modernity in late-Victorian Merseyside’, Journal of Historical Geography, 36:4 (2010), pp. 402-10.
  • Pooley, S. and Pooley, C.G., ‘“Such a splendid tale”: the late-nineteenth-century world of a young, female reader’, Cultural and Social History, 2:3, (2005), pp. 329-51.