Social Policy History Collections

Find out more about Social Policy History collections in the IHR Wohl Library. We collect historical sources and guides to finding and using sources. This page shows examples from our holdings. 


The London School of Economics’ Social Policy department defines Social Policy as: “an interdisciplinary and applied subject concerned with the analysis of societies' responses to social need”. Harvard University defines it as "[the] public policy and practice in the areas of health care, human services, criminal justice, inequality, education, and labour". The broadness of the subject area means that items on social policy history are scattered across the geographically arranged collections. We do have worldwide holdings on all aspects of social policy, but particular strengths in the UK, North America and Western Europe. Our resources i.e. books, reports and academic journals cover social work, social policy administration, comparative research, and research into international institutions, plus policy-making processes and practice, governance and management including delivery and use.

A selection will be listed here and a wider range of material relevant for this field of research can be browsed on the catalogue. Useful search terms are listed below. Do also check out our guide for UK parliamentary sources as that kind of material would be essential for research into social policy.

Highlights from the Collections

State Welfare, Social Services and Healthcare

Some useful keyword and subject search terms: Health care reformSanitationPublic healthWelfare statePoor.


Some useful keyword and subject search terms: CharitiesPhilanthropistsCharitable usestrusts and foundations.


Some useful keyword and subject search terms: LiteracySchoolsEducational law and legislation.


Other Collections

Further Help

Contact us if you would like help on finding or using our collections, or if you have any comments or suggestions about the content of this guide. We are happy to help.

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