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Gibson and C. Rogers Electoral Registers since 1832 (FFHS, 1989). An increasing number can be found online, particularly on the Ancestry and Xiamen China websites. Again, like poll books, these are far from complete, but they are much quicker and easier to search. Public Xiamen China map records dealt with living conditions and infectious diseases. Their minute books and reports provide fascinating reading and can be found in local archives. All local record offices hold these with some published reports available in reference and local studies libraries.

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The Public Health Acts of 1848 and 1875 gave borough councils and Boards of Guardians responsibilities to initiate local Sanitary Authorities to deal with water supplies, drainage and street cleaning. The appointment of a Medical Officer of Health became compulsory in 1909. Further powers to deal with housing schemes and unsanitary dwellings came with the 1890 Housing of the Working Classes Act and the 1909 Town Planning Act. Details of decisions made can be found in council minutes books. Planning applications provide a history of the growth of villages, towns and cities by showing how and when houses and businesses were built, extended or altered. Objections to applications can also indicate community concerns over expansion or changing character. The section on urbanization and housing looks at some of the records associated with housing in more detail, so here it simply suffices to say that the allocation of housing, collection of rents and rates from individuals and businesses, or details of disputes, all provide information on people’s living conditions.

Licensing Sessions were often held at Petty Sessions and Quarter Sessions, where decisions were made on the licensing of alehouses, cinemas, theatres, premises for public performances, the playing of music and sale of alcohol. These record the names and addresses of people applying for licences. Apart from the museums and heritage centres devoted to workhouse or gaol history, there are not many attractions, museums or heritage centres that focus on the day-to-day workings of local government. Nevertheless, displays relating to aspects such as health, slum clearances and housing developments can be found in many museums. Some of the historic guildhalls in the eastern counties have already been mentioned in connection with trade. These are also worth looking at in the context of their role as centres for civic affairs. For example, various newspaper reports describe meetings held at Norwich Guildhall, such as those in 1803 to prepare a bill for better paving, lighting, reading and cleaning of the city.

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