Ernest Aves- Work with Charles Booth – By David Walsh

Charles Booth’s ‘Inquiry into the life and labour of London’s people’ is the only survey for which the original notes and data have survived and therefore provides a unique insight into the development of the philosophy and methodology of social investigation in the United Kingdom.[1]

Charles Booth
Charles Booth

Ernest Aves was one of Booth’s key researchers for this project, due to his expansive knowledge of the working class in London, due to his time at Toynbee Hall. My key source for this report (Mr Charles Booth’s inquiry: life and labour of the people of London reconsidered) drew on the importance Toynbee Hall had on Aves, ‘Ernest Aves, a Toynbee man, had an intimate knowledge of the East End’[2].

The importance of Aves to Booth’s investigation should not be underestimated. Rosie O’Day and David Englander’s ‘Mr Charles Booth inquiry: life and labour of the people in London reconsidered’ reveals the key role Ave’s had in Booth’s writings. ‘As with the previous inquiry, the survey team included a mix of gentlemen and professionals. Chief among the former was Ernest Aves, apart from Booth himself the single most important influence upon the organisation of the research and analysis’[3] Aves accreditation is continued further, ‘ Aves was of that generation which combined citizenship with commitment, action with knowledge, in a battle against ignorance and indifference. He had energy, intelligence, wide sympathies and sound judgement. A man of progressive outlook, he supported the extension of democratic association among producers and consumers.’ ‘He was a believer in good sense, decency and in the fundamental harmony between the social classes’.[4]

In summary, Aves lack of social boundaries and down to earth outlook allowed him to enhance his knowledge on the working class people, due to his open co-operation with them. This first-hand experience was key to Aves ability to research for the survey.

In terms of his actual input into the research itself, Aves contributed the whole section on building trades, which he spent three years researching and writing. Aves was also consulted on all stages of the survey and was responsible for such attempts as there were to draw comparisons and formulate conclusions.  Although he appears as Booths assistant on the title page of the final volume, he was responsible for massive parts of the text. Aves could have quite easily claimed it as his own.[5]

To conclude, Ernest Aves was a vital member of the research team for Booth’s inquiry. Aves is considered as one of the main success stories to come from the work of Toynbee hall and from this report it is easy to see why. In setting up Toynbee Hall, Samuel Barnett claimed the objective was ‘to learn as much as to teach, to receive as much as to give’[6]. There are very little better example of these words success than Ernest Aves.

[1] http://booth.lse.ac.uk/static/a/3.html#i

[2] R. O’Day and D. Englander, Mr Charles Booths inquiry: Life and Labour of the people in London reconsidered (1993) P.78

[3] R. O’Day and D. Englander, Mr Charles Booth’s inquiry: Life and Labour of the people in London reconsidered. (1993) P.105

[4] R. O’Day and D. Englander, Mr Charles Booth’s inquiry: Life and Labour of the people in London reconsidered. (1993) P.106

[5] R. O’Day and D. Englander, Mr Charles Booth’s inquiry: Life and Labour of the people in London reconsidered. (1993) P.106

 

[6] http://www.toynbeehall.org.uk/data/files/About_Toynbee_Hall/Samuel_Barnetts_influence_across_the_pond_1.pdf

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s