The Cause of God and Church: Roman Catholicism and the Political Battle to Educate the Poor
This project is a work in progress toward a published book. I am examining the efforts of the Roman Catholic Church in Victorian Britain to educate their flock at the elementary school level, a process that took the design of a fifty-year campaign and became the most important objective of this religious community during this time. The elementary education system in Great Britain began a slow improvement process in the 1830s with state financial support given to the churches that operated the schools until 1847, at which time most of their children were not attending school and they were the poorest Christian community in Britain and their numbers were being inflated rapidly due to the Irish potato famine. Over the next fifty-five years, the Catholic Church in Britain built hundreds of schools and educated tens of thousands of children subsisting on the scant resources they received from the state and what they could raise via tuition fees and fund-raising. In the process they brought the catholic community together to stand relatively united behind the education battle, and, more importantly, in the process they transformed their identity as a community from one that was rather reticent and quiet to one that demanded that they be treated equally with and have the same civil and religious stake their claim for funding along with the other denominations. This funding will allow me to expand my use of archival primary sources to provide better national coverage of Catholic leaders during the education struggle by allowing me to visit some Catholic archives that I have not yet visited, namely those in Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham, and Liverpool.