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Who was it for?

Thomas Horsfall's ideas about the poor, the working classes, women, and children came out of a political and economic environment in which all of these categories were the subject of significant public debate. The Liberalism that dominated political discussion at this time emphasized the "deserving" and the "undeserving" poor, moral categories that predicated charity on particular kinds of behaviors. Who were the people that Horsfall hoped to help? What kinds of ideas did he and other reformers have about "the poor" or "the workers" that shaped their project? As we still see today, the ideas of the powerful about those in need of assistance shape both governmental programs for social welfare and experiments in private philanthropy. The following exhibits provide some of the context in which Horsfall worked, and discuss prevalent Victorian ideas about the people he hoped to help. As these pages show, all of these categories -- workers, women, immigrants, children, workers -- changed a great deal over the time when Horsfall tried to reach them with his particular ideas about nature, beauty, and meaning.