Staff profile

Dr Joseph Harley

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Joseph Harley next to display board


English, Creative Writing and Publishing, History and American Studies


College of Arts, Humanities and Education



Research centre

Identity, Culture and Representation Research Centre


Kedleston Road, Derby Campus



I am a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Derby, with interests in European history c. 1500-1918 and research expertise in the history of Britain during the long 18th century (c. 1650-1850). My role is primarily research based but I also teach across several modules in History and Publishing.

I completed a PhD at the University of Leicester in 2016 on the consumer lives of the poor during the 18th century and at the Institute of Historical Research, London I researched workhouse life during the 18th century having been awarded an Economic History Society Fellowship (2016-17). I was formerly an Archive Research Officer on the Heritage Lottery Fund project 'Charnwood Roots' and Research Assistant on the Heritage Lottery Fund scheme 'How old is Cottesmore and how has it developed?'. I have around ten years of teaching experience and have previously taught at the University of Leicester and Loughborough University. Before my appointment as a Research Fellow in July 2018, I was an Associate Lecturer at the University of Derby.

Teaching responsibilities

I teach across a range of British and European history topics and the history of publishing from c. 1450-1945.

The names of the modules that I teach on at the University of Derby include:

Research interests

I have interests in European history from c. 1500 to 1918, but primarily research Britain during the long 18th century (c. 1650-1850). The bulk of my work focuses on the poor and I research numerous topics to understand their lives including consumption, domestic production, industrialisation, print culture, welfare, workhouses, social relations and regional history.


In the media

Having offered advice to researchers working on programmes such as ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’, I welcome enquiries on subjects that relate to my research interests.

Recent publications


Norfolk Pauper Inventories, c. 1690-1834 (Oxford: British Academy/Oxford University Press, 2020).


‘Pauper Inventories, Social Relations and the Nature of Poor Relief under the Old Poor Law, England c.1601-1834’, Historical Journal, 62:2 (2019), pp. 375-398.

‘Consumption and Poverty in the Homes of the English Poor, c. 1670-1834’, Social History, 43:1 (2018), pp. 81-104.

‘Material Lives of the Poor and their Strategic use of the Workhouse during the Final Decades of the English Old Poor Law’, Continuity and Change, 30:1 (2015), pp. 71-103.


‘Consumption and material culture of poverty in early-modern Europe, c.1450-1800’, in David Hitchcock and Julia McClure (eds.), History of Poverty in Early Modern Europe, 1450-1800 (London: Routledge. Accepted and forthcoming 2020).