Dr Laura Mair (MA (Hons) MA PhD)

REF Impact Officer


I undertook my PhD at the University of Edinburgh under the supervision of Professor Stewart J. Brown in the School of Divinity and Professor Louise Jackson from the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology. My thesis explored the ragged school movement in England and Scotland between 1844 and 1870, with a particular focus on the relationships formed between scholars and teachers. I acted as a research consultant to  the Victoria and Albert Museum's Museum of Childhood in connection with the 'On Their Own' exhibition on British child migrants, which it hosted between September 2015 and June 2016. I completed a Master's in History at Leiden University in 2012.

My book, 'Religion and Relationships in Ragged Schools: Educating Street-Children in the Nineteenth Century' (Routledge, 2019) is in press. 


PhD (2016, University of Edinburgh)

MA (2012, Leiden University)

MA (Hons) (2010, University of Edinburgh)

Responsibilities & affiliations

Advisor to the Ragged School Museum, London

Secretary of the Scottish Church History Society

Undergraduate teaching

Children and the Church: Popular Education and Child Welfare in England and Scotland, 1800-1900

History of Christianity as a World Religion 1A and 1B

Popular Religion, Women and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe

Social Christianity in Britain, Germany and the United States, 1848-1930

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Research summary

Church History 

Social History

History of Children, Childhood and Education

Current research interests

I am interested in the experiences of poor children in the nineteenth century, particularly in relation to religious education. Victorian ecumenical relations regarding education and the role Protestant churches played in stimulating public concern regarding poor children are also of interest. In relation to the ragged school movement, I am keen to further investigate the children's responses to religious teaching, parental attitudes towards the schools, the role social class played in teacher-scholar relations, and the depiction and role of working-class teachers. I am also interested in the experiences of Catholic and Jewish children within the ragged schools, the depiction of and experiences of disabled children, and the fortunes of mid-Victorian ragged school migrants.

Knowledge exchange

Research Consultant to Ragged School Museum,  2017 -

Research Consultant to Victoria and Albert Museum's Museum of Childhood, 2014 - 2015

Project activity

As part of my Hope Trust Research Fellowship I am investigating the Edinburgh Original Ragged School, looking in particular at its 1847 schism and the ecumenical problems articulated during public meetings. In particular, this project focuses on ideas regarding the children's entitlement to both 'bread and the Bible',  exploring how this affected the experiences of Catholic and Jewish children within the school.

Continuing the work of my doctoral thesis, I am exploring the nature and expression of relationships between ragged school teachers and their scholars in the mid-nineteenth century. This project highlights the diversity of the ragged school classroom and demonstrates the important supportive role, both practically and emotionally, that Protestant philanthropy could provide within poor communities 

I am currently developing a course on the historical association between children and the church, concentrating on the role that Christians played in shaping education and welfare for poor children in the nineteenth century.

View all 7 publications on Research Explorer