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Small Town Development and Urban Illiteracy: Comparative Evidence from Leicestershire Marriage Registers 1754-1890

Michael Hoyler
Historical Social Research / Historische Sozialforschung
Vol. 23, No. 1/2 (84), 20 Jahre: Zentrum für Historische Sozialforschung: Teil III: Demographie und Gesellschaft (1998), pp. 202-230
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20756190
Page Count: 29
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Small Town Development and Urban Illiteracy: Comparative Evidence from Leicestershire Marriage Registers 1754-1890
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Abstract

Geographical variations in literacy levels are a constituent feature of the long process of educational expansion in England. Based on the analysis of Anglican marriage registers for the period 1754 to 1890, the article explores patterns of illiteracy in three small Leicestershire towns with contrasting economic functions. Illiteracy levels were closely related to urban occupational and social structures, which also affected distinct gender differentials. Evidence on the effect of literacy on age at marriage and marriage distance suggests that demographic behaviour and spatial interaction were determined more by socio-economic factors than by the possession of literacy skills. Literacy attainment, however, was linked to extended marriage distances when both spouses could sign the register.

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