RHS Public History Workshop report

The RHS Public History Workshop was held in the Wolfson suite at the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) on Thursday 29th October 2015. It was organized by Professor Ludmilla Jordanova, Professor Jo Fox and Dr Alix Green in partnership with the IHR’s Public History seminar.

RHS Research and Communications officer, Dr Jane Gerson, reports:

MainAward_Logo smallThe Public History workshop is part of a new initiative to promote and recognise this developing field alongside the new biennial RHS Public History Prize. It was the first of what we hope will be an annual event to profile public history and assess its importance, impact and role in contemporary historical studies.

The RHS is excited to be supporting such an innovative approach to the work of historians, which enhances public understanding of the place of the past in today’s social, political and cultural life. But what is public history exactly and why is it important?  The workshop aimed to explore these questions from a number of perspectives as well as focusing on the work of upcoming early career researchers and postgraduates.  The programme for the day interwove keynote addresses by three well-known historians, Pam Cox, Ludmilla Jordanova and Justin Champion, with four presentations by historians starting out on their careers, Daniel Johnson, Mike Mantin, Alexander Hutton and Claire Hayward.

Lawrence Goldman

Lawrence Goldman

The event was opened by IHR Director Lawrence Goldman who paid poignant tribute to the historian of modern Jewish history, David Cesarani, whose death had just been announced. Goldman drew attention to the way Cesarani’s work intersected with pressing educational, political and cultural issues. In a personal reminiscence, especially commissioned by the RHS, Goldman writes, “In a profession that sometimes talks airily and vaguely about ‘public historians’, David Cesarani was the real thing.” One of the aims of the workshop was to dispel any ‘airy’ and ‘vague’ talk and bring a precise focus to what public history is and what it can achieve.

Pam Cox

The first keynote address was given by Pam Cox, Professor of Sociology at the University of Essex. She is perhaps best-known for her outstanding series for the BBC – Shopgirls: the True Story Behind the Counter and Servants: the True Story of Life Below Stairs, both of which provide intimate insights into the daily lives of ordinary working people in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain.  She gave a scintillating presentation drawing on the promotional materials produced by the BBC to trail and publicise the series, showing how skilful editing of images and speech can reach audiences unfamiliar with the traditional approaches of academic historians. She explained how her producer urged her not only to encourage her audience to ‘learn’ these histories but also to ‘feel’ them.  Initial reserve about adopting the strategies of broadcasters, which can seem at odds with the methodologies of the historical profession, gave way to excitement at the possibilities opened up by new ways of communicating the past and reaching new audiences.

Daniel Johnson (left) and Jo Fox

The theme of ‘feeling’ as well as ‘thinking’ as a means to understand history and connect with audiences recurred throughout the day. It emerged as one of the central defining features to help us understand what makes public history – or indeed what makes history public. These ideas were further explored in the next session which addressed the theme of public engagement with museums.  Daniel Johnson, a public history MA student at the University of York, talked about his involvement with the Blackpool Museum Project. This is a large-scale development, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, which aims to build a museum that captures the spirit and character of Blackpool. Blackpool Council envisages the museum will be “immersive, participatory and inclusive”. Johnson has acted as a volunteer for the project, collecting oral histories and working on cultural events to promote its work. Given Blackpool’s long association with popular entertainment, his talk stressed the interactive, playful approach the museum intends to adopt to engage its audience.

Mike Mantin

Mike Mantin, research fellow at Swansea University for the Wellcome Trust project ‘Disability and Industrial Society’, also addressed approaches to engaging local audiences in their histories. Mantin was co-curator of the exhibition ‘From Pithead to Sick Bed: Disability and the South Welsh Coal industry’ which ran at the National Waterfront Museum in Swansea from June to October this year. His paper focused on their attempts to link the historical material with contemporary societal issues through talks, events, podcasts, blogposts and working with local disability groups. He described this as adding “a much-needed conversation on representation, of both disability and labour history in museums.” It was also a plea for academic historians to lead this public conversation themselves.

Ludmilla Jordanova

The second keynote address by Ludmilla Jordanova, Professor of History and Visual Cultures at Durham University and author of the essential text, History in Practice, challenged habitual thinking, not just about public history, but history per se.  After all, she asked, can’t all history be described as being in some sense ‘public’? Titled ‘a provocation’, her talk probed the qualities of public history, defending its importance, for example in historical fiction as practised by the author Jane Smiley, whose recent bruising encounter with Niall Ferguson on BBC R4’s Start the Week, exposed the attitudes some established historians hold about ‘fiction’ as a pathway to historical understanding. But Jordanova also cautioned against the dangers of reductive populism as evidenced in the numerous Top 10 history ‘fact’ lists now so prevalent in some publications. Public history, she made clear, is not the same as ‘selling’ history. Read Jordanova’s paper in full.

Alexander Hutton square

Alexander Hutton

The afternoon commenced with two thoughtful presentations on what might be termed ‘outsider’ history; that is history conducted by unorthodox practitioners about individuals and groups marginalised in society. Alexander Hutton, a post-doctoral researcher at King’s College London, proposed an alternative model to our ideas about public history.  His doctoral research revealed that well-known historians of the Industrial Revolution developed their ideas through intense interaction with non-historians associated with interest groups such as the adult education movement. For these people history was not “the passive consumption of material produced by experts” we so often assume it to be. It was rather a dynamic, interactive process between professional historians and interested publics, which suggests new ways to engage with the historiography of the Industrial Revolution, as well as other histories.

PHW Claire + Alix square

Claire Hayward (left) and Alix Green

Claire Hayward, a final year PhD student at Kingston University who is working on representations of same-sex love in public history, also looked at individuals and groups who have been omitted from conventional histories and heritage practices, in this case with respect to LGBTQ communities. While there are some high-profile figures such as Oscar Wilde, and more recently Alan Turing, who are commemorated, this masks the vast number of LGBTQ men and women who are eradicated from public memory. She also discussed the gendering of memorialisation, with the history of same-sex love between women even less acknowledged than that between men. The UK, in particular, lags behind both Europe and America in its representation of LGBTQ communities. The talk ended with ideas for the future of commemoration that could represent the existence of past, present and future acts of same-sex love and LGBTQ communities in the UK.

PHW Justin sq. 2

Justin Chamption

The workshop broke into groups to discuss how to advocate public history before Justin Champion gave the final keynote speech of the day. Champion, who is Professor of the History of Early Modern Ideas at Royal Holloway, University of London, and President of the Historical Association, gave what was probably the most overtly political address of the workshop in a talk entitled ‘ “Making public, making a difference” – designing research questions with a public purpose.’ He made a powerful case for public history to return to the idea of ‘making a difference’, attacking top-down intervention by government that determined the kinds of research historians should be conducting, particularly in exercises such as the REF which assess funding on the basis of prescribed definitions of ‘impact’. He contrasted this with the more authentic, grass roots evolution of research projects by historians genuinely engaged with their communities and research topics. He made a plea to enquire into why people become historians and have more understanding as to what motivated their choice of research. Respect and latitude to allow these involvements to develop without political pressure was important to achieve the best standards of historical research as well as the highest levels of reciprocal public engagement. Champion wrapped up his talk by asking “is public history by definition a political act?” In a day of some excellent live tweeting this assertion gained the highest number of retweets!

The speech closed a fascinating and stimulating day that left many avenues still to explore.

The RHS and Public History steering committee actively welcome comments about the workshop and ideas for its future as an annual event.  Please send these to RHS Honorary Director of Communications, Jo Fox at info@royalhistsoc.org

Many thanks to the Public History steering committee: Ludmilla Jordanova, Alix Green and Jo Fox.



Getting Published: a guide to first articles and journal publishing

An RHS Online Training Workshop for Early Career Historians


14.00-16.00 BST, Wednesday 21 July 2021
Online via Zoom
Booking for this event is open via Eventbrite


‘Getting Published: a guide to first articles and journal publishing’ is an online training event hosted by the RHS designed for early career historians. The focus of this first ‘Getting Published’ session is journals, with specific attention on getting a first academic article written and published in your chosen journal.

The event brings together journal editors and publishers, recent first-time authors, and early career historians. It seeks to demystify the process of journal publishing and provide practical advice and tips on how best to succeed.

The workshop combines brief presentations on academic journals, stages of the publishing process, the experience of getting published, as well as active audience participation in which your questions and concerns are raised and discussed.

Topics for this session include: the journal landscape; differences between an article and a thesis chapter; choosing and approaching the right journal for you; what to expect with peer review and from your publisher if your article is accepted; how to respond to inevitable rejections; journal articles and the Research Excellence Framework (REF); and next steps in publishing on completing your first article.

The session will also consider, and explain, Open Access (OA) publishing: what it means for journal publishing – for authors, editors and journal publishers; what options to choose; and the future for Open Access journal publishing in the wake of UKRI’s imminent declaration on its position of the OA charter ‘Plan S’.

Speakers at the event:
  • Professor Emma Griffin (RHS President, UEA and co-editor of Historical Journal), chair
  • Professor Sandra den Otter (Queen’s University, Ontario and co-editor of the Journal of British Studies)
  • Dr Rebekah Lee (Goldsmiths, University of London and co-editor of the Journal of Southern African Studies)
  • Professor Jane Winters (School of Advanced Study, University of London, RHS Vice-President, Publishing, and specialist in Open Access and digital publishing)

The panel will be joined by three recent authors who’ll offer their experience of navigating journal publishing for the first time, as PhD students and recent post-doctoral researchers:

  • Dr Diya Gupta (RHS and Institute of Historical Research / Journal of War & Culture Studies)
  • Dr Jonah Miller (Cambridge / History Workshop Journal)
  • Sasha Rasmussen (Oxford / Cultural and Social History)

After contributions from the panel, the event will take the form of a discussion involving all attendees. Those attending will be invited to submit questions in advance of the event.

This event is free to all though booking is essential. Reserve a place via Eventbrite.

A link to the event will be emailed to all those enrolled on Tuesday 20 July 2021


Future RHS training workshops

‘Getting Published’ is the first in a new annual series of RHS ‘Getting Started’ training events for early career historians. Events will provide guidance and insight into key areas of professional development.

Topics for future discussion will include: publishing and communicating research, teaching history, writing history, applying historical knowledge and research skills, and career options for research historians within and outside higher education. ‘Getting Started’ will run four times a year with the next session planned for autumn 2021.



For more guides see also the RHS’s new Teaching Portal: a set of over 50 specially commissioned essays–on research, online resources, teaching and career paths–for current research students and early career teachers.



Research Support for Early Career Researchers

Design for Desk, 1841, British, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, public domain


In addition to Grants, the RHS provides a range of resources and activities for postgraduate researchers and early career historians. These include the Teaching Portal, an online collection of articles relating to studying for a PhD in History, beginning teaching, and career development beyond higher education.

The Society also invites Early Career Members to apply for election to the RHS.

In 2021 we began a programme of ECR Training Workshops which will run through the year. Focusing on categories such as ‘Researching’, ‘Communicating’, ‘Teaching’, ‘Publishing’ and ‘Developing’ one’s career, the workshops address specific topics and bring together established and early career historians. Workshops are informal, practical and intended to provide guidance and support on common areas of research life.

Our most recent Workshop (July 2021) was ‘Getting Published: a guide to first articles and journal publishing’ which is available to watch here:

Workshops will be held in March, July and October of each year. Forthcoming sessions will be announced via Events, @RoyalHistSoc, and via the regular RHS News Circular which is sent to all Fellows and Members.


Royal Historical Society Curriculum Conference

Date: Thursday 23 – Thursday 30 April
Venue: Online

About this Event

An exchange of information between history teachers in schools and universities to enhance understanding about Curriculum development.

This free event organised by the Royal Historical Society, is designed to support an exchange of information between history teachers in schools and universities in order to enhance understanding about issues in curriculum development in and between these two educational phases.

Originally designed as a one-day workshop to be held on 23 April at the RHS offices, the event will now be happening virtually from 23-30 April. During this time attendees with login details will have access to all the presentations and speakers’ focus questions, and will be given the opportunity to join the online discussion board. We hope that this flexible format will allow as many people as possible to contribute and engage in the topics.

Subjects will include:

  • transitions between phases
  • equality, diversity and inclusion
  • the new A level syllabus
  • the Society’s forthcoming Teaching Portal and how you can contribute to it

The event will be held online, with a series of short presentations designed to both inform and prompt participants to contribute to the online discussion.

Please register to attend this event on Eventbrite.

If you need any further information about this event please contact either Professor Ken Fincham: K.C.Fincham@kent.ac.uk or Peter D’Sena: p.dsena@herts.ac.uk,


Sampler, 1828, detail

Sampler, Kent, England, (1828, detail), Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, public domain

282 new Fellows & Members elected to the Society

At its meeting on 2 July 2021 the RHS Council elected 150 Fellows, 56 Members, and 76 Early Career Members, a total of 282 people newly associated with the Society.

The majority of the new Fellows hold academic appointments at universities, specialising in a very wide range of fields; but also include broadcasters, film-makers, public historians, curators, publishers, journalists and editors, and academic librarians. The new Members also have a wide variety of historical interests, including those employed in universities, and as school teachers, archivists, museum staff, and education officers – together with independent and community historians.

All those newly elected to the Fellowship and Membership bring a valuable range of expertise and experience that will help the Society to fulfil its objective of representing the diverse body of those engaged in historical scholarship.

New Fellows and Members are elected at regular intervals through the year. The current application round is open and runs to Monday 16 August 2021. Further details on RHS Fellowship and Membership categories, the benefits of membership, deadlines for applications in 2021, and how to apply, are available here.


New RHS Fellows, elected July 2021
  • Robbie Aitken
  • Marc Alexander
  • Ian Armour
  • Christopher Ash
  • Emma Aston
  • Revel Barker
  • Alison Beach
  • Hugh Beattie
  • Brad Beaven
  • Stephen Bennett
  • Egemen Bezci
  • Thomas Bishop
  • Thomas Breimaier
  • Thomas Brodie
  • Ugo Bruschi
  • Nathan Cardon
  • Claire Chatterton
  • David Churchill
  • Roland Clark
  • Susan Cohen
  • Paul Corner
  • Tony Craig
  • Nicholas Crane
  • Alice Crossley
  • Jessica Dalton
  • Christina de Bellaigue
  • Joanna de Groot
  • Caroline Derry
  • Malcolm Dick
  • Steven Dieter
  • Matthew Dimmock
  • Celia Donert
  • Dennis Duncan
  • Dee Dyas
  • Serena Dyer
  • Hormoz Ebrahimnejad
  • Derek Elliott
  • Laura Evans
  • Michael Fass
  • Ilaria Favretto
  • Catherine Ferguson
  • Mark Finney
  • Robert Fletcher
  • Chris Fuller
  • David Gange
  • Sebastian Gehrig
  • Chris Godden
  • Wilko Graf von Hardenberg
  • David Greenwood
  • Hannah Greig
  • Sarah Gristwood
  • Jérôme Grosclaude
  • Armin Gruenbacher
  • Anna Hajkova
  • Maria Hayward
  • Matthew Heaslip
  • William Hern
  • Beatrice Heuser
  • Steve Hewitt
  • Tracey Hill
  • Julia Hillner
  • Wendy Holden
  • Ian Horwood
  • Jon Howlett
  • Katja Hoyer
  • David R. M. Irving
  • Dan Jones
  • Laura Kalas
  • Angus Konstam
  • Giada Lagana
  • Craig Lambert
  • Sabine Lee
  • Ulrich Lehner
  • Alan Lester
  • James Lockhart
  • José Antonio López Sabatel
  • Gary Love
  • Mathew Lyons
  • Shivan Mahendrarajah
  • Jatinder Mann
  • Giuseppe Marcocci
  • Naomi Matsumoto
  • Matthew Lynn McDowell
  • Alexander Medcalf
  • Tommaso Milani
  • Sarah Miller-Davenport
  • Thomas Mills
  • Giles Milton
  • Saurabh Mishra
  • Katharine Mitchell
  • Shaul Mitelpunkt
  • Simon Moody
  • Neville Morley
  • Aislinn Muller
  • John Munro
  • Neil Murphy
  • Patricia Murrieta-Flores
  • Dave Musgrove
  • Kathleen Neal
  • Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid
  • Rafaelle Nicholson
  • Philip Norrie
  • Shane  O’Rourke
  • Ed Owens
  • Ian Patel
  • Naomi Paxton
  • Andy Pearce
  • Andrew Popp
  • Linda Porter
  • William Purkis
  • Alex Renton
  • Carol Richardson
  • Klaus Richter
  • Daniel  Robinson
  • Katharina Rowold
  • Dominic Sandbrook
  • Samita Sen
  • Hugo Service
  • Stephanie Seul
  • Shalini Sharma
  • John Singleton
  • Asaf Siniver
  • Clare Siviter-Groschwald
  • Matthew Smith
  • Keith Somerville
  • Beth Spacey
  • David Stack
  • Matthew Stibbe
  • Paul Stock
  • Nicola Tallis
  • Michael Taylor
  • Frank Uekötter
  • Ted Vallance
  • David Veevers
  • Lena Wahlgren-Smith
  • Kevin Waite
  • Fionnuala Walsh
  • Tosh Warwick
  • Thomas Waters
  • Peter Webster
  • David Weekes
  • Sam Wetherell
  • Emma Wilby
  • Stephen Wilkinson
  • Helen Williams
  • Kate Williams
  • Zbigniew Wojnowski
  • Alexander Wragge-Morley
  • Simon Yarrow
  • Henry Yeomans


New RHS Members, elected July 2021
  • Meshal Alenezi
  • Paul Allonby
  • Ann-Kathrin Barfuß
  • Del Barrett
  • Sue Berry
  • Michael Bevel
  • Jacqueline Bollmann
  • Quinn Bradlee
  • Birgitte Breemerkamp
  • Patrick Cook
  • Bob Couttie
  • Lauren Davies
  • Vincenzo De Meulenaere
  • John Deane-O’Keeffe
  • Martin Deeb
  • Adrian Defta
  • Alexander Dua
  • Nicholas Ellis
  • Lynsey Ford
  • Shweta George
  • Jose Gonsalves
  • Steven Haines
  • David Matthew Harper
  • Neil Harrison
  • Andrew Henderson
  • Mumtaz Iqbal
  • Brian Izzard
  • Takao Kawanishi
  • Miroslava Kleckova
  • Henrik Kostow
  • Florian Kupfer
  • Neha Lal
  • Katie Lissamore
  • Alice Loxton
  • Stuart Major
  • Vicky Manolopoulou
  • Karen McAulay
  • Joanne McIntosh
  • Louise Moon
  • Peter Morgan
  • Nathan Morley
  • Adenike Ogunkoya
  • Phil Orwin
  • Philip Parker
  • Olivia Blythe Goulet Paterson
  • Tony Pratt
  • Karen Redmond
  • Jeremy Rodriguez
  • Harvey Ross
  • Salman Siddiqui
  • Peter Smith
  • Steven Smith
  • Roy Stedall-Humphryes
  • Mike Stevenson
  • Alexander Walsh
  • Graham Woodall


New RHS Early Career Members, elected July 2021
  • Peter Aiken
  • William Baker
  • Fiona   Banham
  • Nicholas Barone
  • Fay Braybrooke
  • Andrew Carter
  • Douglas Chapman
  • Rachel Clamp
  • Andrew Connell
  • Beth Cowen
  • Joseph Crozier
  • Angela Davies
  • Susie Deedigan
  • Trude Dijkstra
  • Paige Emerick
  • David Foster
  • Pauline Gardiner
  • Charlotte Gauthier
  • Daniella Gonzalez
  • Natalie Grace
  • Rob Granger
  • Fraser Gray
  • Stephen Griffin
  • Catherine-Rose Hailstone
  • Lily Hawker-Yates
  • Giulia Iannuzzi
  • Polina Ignatova
  • Claire Jackson
  • Jonathan Jackson
  • Jamie Jenkins
  • Li Jiang
  • Bethan Johnson
  • Aidan Jones
  • Ian Jones
  • Rhian Jones
  • William Jones
  • Saoirse Laaraichi
  • Rosanagh Mack
  • Sebastian Majstorovic
  • Marta Manzanares Mileo
  • Nenad Markovic
  • John Marshall
  • Avaro Maylis
  • Patrick McGhee
  • Claire McNulty
  • Kiran Mehta
  • William Mitchell
  • Joan Passey
  • Joseph Puchner
  • Emily Quigley
  • Jay Rees
  • Michael Reeve
  • Darren Reid
  • Isabel Robinson
  • Laura Robson-Mainwaring
  • Linda Ross
  • Bethany Rowley
  • David Saunders
  • Florence Scott
  • Hana Sleiman
  • Chase Smith
  • Frederick Smith
  • Amy Solomons
  • Marta Starostina
  • Derek Taylor
  • Ezra Teboul
  • Billie-Gina Thomason
  • Cecilia Varuzza
  • Helbert Velilla-Jiménez
  • Mrinalini Venkateswaran
  • Ben White
  • James Wilson
  • Matthew Woolgar
  • Hannah Yoken
  • Tom Young
  • Shijia Yu



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The Royal Historical Society runs a varied programme of events throughout the year, including our own prestigious lectures, and twice-yearly symposia hosted by history departments around Britain.


Royal Historical Society Events Programme, 2021>


Upcoming RHS Events

Friday 17 September: Aylmer Seminar for Archivists and Historians, 2021

‘New Ways to Work: Future Directions in Archival and Historical Practice’ — virtual conference, in association with The National Archives and Institute of Historical Research.

10.00 – 13.30 BST – Live online via Zoom. Book for this event.


Friday 24 September: RHS Lecture with Dr Jonathan Saha (Durham)

‘Accumulations and Cascades: On the Ecological Impact of British Imperialism’

17.30 BST – Further details and booking available soon


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We also host listings for a wide range of external events and activities on behalf of the historical community. This  includes conferences, symposia, seminars, and lectures, as well as Calls for Papers, and Prize deadlines. Submit your notice using the link below or use the page menu to search and browse the wide range of upcoming events and other notices of interest to historians.

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