Reference NumberP/WHT
TitleInterviews by Jerry White used for research for 'Rothschild Buildings: life in an East End tenement block, 1887-1920'
DescriptionInterview recordings by Jerry White on audio cassette tapes with transcripts used for research for his publication 'Rothschild Buildings: life in an East End tenement block, 1887-1920'.

These are copies made in the 1980s of Jerry White's original recordings of interviews conducted between 1973 and 1977. Many individuals were from the Jewish community, born between the 1880s and the 1930s. Most had emigrated to England from areas of Eastern Europe including Austria, Lithuania and Poland. The transcripts include childhood memories and cover housing conditions, social life, events, education and religion.

For some interviewees only the transcript survives. In other cases, the tape recordings have no transcript.
Extent2 boxes
AdminHistoryBetween 1973 and 1977 Jerry White interviewed residents who had lived at Rothschild Buildings, Thrawl Street (next to Flower and Dean Street), Spitalfields. His research was published in 1980 as book, part of the History Workshop series by Routledge and Kegan Paul.

The following description is given in the publication (see Library reference: L6694):
'Rothschild Buildings were typical of the "model dwellings for the working classes" which were such an important part of the response to late-Victorian London's housing problem. They were built for poor but respectable Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe...By talking to people who grew up in the Buildings in the 1890s and after, and using untapped documentary evidence from a wide range of public and private sources, the author re-creates in a unique richness of detail the life of that community...'

Rothschild Buildings were built in 1889 by the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company. The firm was founded by Lord Rothschild in 1885, to house poor Jewish families in model dwelling houses. In the London County Council 1929 and 1955 directory volumes one is referred to Charlotte de Rothschild’s Dwellings which is the correct name. There were entrances to this block in both Thrawl Street (1-105) and Flower and Dean Street (106-228). The buildings were demolished between 1974 and 1975. The site of the buildings were replaced by the Attlee Adventure Playground, which was completed in February 1980 and managed by the Attlee Foundation, a registered charity. The site was replaced by Lolesworth Close and other developments, from 1982.

Nathaniel Dwellings, Flower and Dean Street were built by the Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company and opened in 1892. The blocks were demolished under slum clearance between 1973 and 1974. Some of the individuals who were interviewed by Jerry White had lived at Nathaniel Dwellings.

Sources include: A Topography of Tower Hamlets c1700-c2000, M. F. Elliston 2016 (Library reference: LC14742).
CustodialHistoryLondon History Workshop Centre, 42 Queen Square, London WC1N 3AJ held the original recordings in 1987. They provided this copy set of tapes and transcripts as arranged with Jerry White. Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives paid the Centre to make copies from the originals.
RelatedMaterialThe original recordings are digitised and are held by the Museum of London. Please contact the Museum of London for further details.

See the published book, Local History Library reference: L6694 (Class 331.4 WHI).

The Bishopsgate Institute holds the archives of London History Workshop Centre, 1977-1992, reference: RS 3.

The Centre continues online as London History Online, visit (accessed June 2022).
Housing - conditions
Housing associations
Access StatusOpen
AccessConditionsTranscripts and publication from the interviews can be consulted.

No digital public access copies to these tape recording copies are available. The original recordings are however digitised and are held by the Museum of London. Please contact the Museum of London for further details.

Some material within this collection has been closed under current Data Protection legislation as the records concerned contain sensitive personal data. Please check specific item level descriptions for details, and refer any queries to the Heritage Officer (Archives).
RequestNO - This does not represent a physical document. Please click on the reference number and view list of records to find material available to order at file or item level.


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