Public History Prize

The RHS, in partnership with the Public History Seminar at the IHR, is pleased to announce that the overall winner of the first Public History Prize is ‘For King & Country’, Bankfield Museum, Halifax. The prize is intended to promote the field of public history by recognising work that enhances public understanding of the place of the past in today’s social, political and cultural life. In association with the award there was a day-long Public History workshop held in the Wolfson Suite at the IHR on Thursday 29th October.

ForKCAngelaClareRichardMandAVwithtrophies GRThe 2015 Public History Prizes were presented by Professor Amanda Vickery (Queen Mary, University of London) at a reception at University College London on Friday 27th November. READ MORE.

The PHP judging panel comprised Professor Mary Beard (Cambridge); Dr. Alix Green (UCLAN); Professor Aled Jones (National Library of Wales) and Professor John Tosh (Roehampton).  It was chaired by Professor Ludmilla Jordanova (Durham).

MainAward_Logo smallAwards were made in the following categories:

  • Broadcasting
  • Film
  • Museums & Exhibitions
  • Web & Digital

The specially designed awards take the form of a logo, which can be displayed on stationery and websites, and a plaque.

Information about how to enter the next Public History Prize will be posted here soon.


Alix Green explains the importance of recognising achievement in public history:

Alix Green

Alix Green

There is excellent work being done across the country to engage people with the past in innovative and exciting ways, everything from museum exhibitions to historical film and theatre, from community heritage projects to digital resources.  But this work can often be unknown outside the area in which it’s done. The convenors and the RHS saw the need to raise the profile of public history and were keen to set up a prize to bring the kind of recognition to the best of these activities that awards in literature and the arts have achieved.  We hope not only to entice new audiences to history in all its forms, but also to help the field of public history develop by connecting people and celebrating success.”

 Aled Jones writes:

Aled Jones

Aled Jones

As a historian who now heads a national public cultural organisation, I feel passionately about the value of public history and its capacity to change lives. Our history is ever-present, and the richness and diversity of the ways it is conveyed to us, across a dazzling range of fields and media, is something that should rightly be celebrated. The Public History Prize will draw national and international attention to the brilliant work being done up and down the country, in small and major venues, to keep us all in touch with our past.”

Mary Beard reminisces about how public history inspired her:

Mary Beard

Mary Beard

In a way it was a great ‘public historian’ who got me into my own career in the first place. I was five years old and being taken to the British Museum for the first time. I remember straining to see a piece of ancient Egyptian carbonised cake high up in a case — when this curator came by, with some keys and unlocked the case, and got it out so I could see it properly. It may not be quite what we usually mean by ‘public history’, but for me it crystallizes many of its qualities. Someone literally wanted to open the past up for me, he went the extra mile, he brought the past to me without talking down to me — and it was an encounter I never forgot.”

 John Tosh writes:

John Tosh - Why History Matters In addition to its contribution to culture and leisure, Public History is a resource for the critical citizen concerned with a wide range of public issues that invite historical perspective.  Newspaper columnists, political analysts and professional historians all make significant contributions to a historically informed public discourse. Britain’s ‘unwritten’ constitution, western policies in the Middle East, and the long history of experiments in welfare are just some of the questions that can be illuminated in this way. Dissemination – in digital form, on TV and on radio – can fuel critical debate, as well as establish a more reliable historical basis for interpreting the present. The Public History Prize therefore welcomes nominations that recognise well-founded historical contributions to current public discourse in any of these media.”  John Tosh


You can follow the prize or tweet about it using the hashtag #PublicHistoryPrize

All enquiries about the Public History Prize should be addressed to the Administrative Secretary, Melanie Ransom, at: m.ransom@royalhistsoc.org