Governance, Constitution and By-Laws

The Royal Historical Society is a charity registered in England and Wales (charity number: 206888) and was established by Royal Charter in 1889.

The Royal Historical Society remains the foremost society in the United Kingdom promoting and defending the scholarly study of the past. It promotes discussion of history by means of a full programme of public lectures and conferences and disseminates the results of historical research and debate through its publications and various online communication channels. It represents the interest of historical scholarship to various official bodies. It speaks for the interests of history and historians for the benefit of the public.

The Society’s business, activities, and fellowship/membership is governed by its By-Laws. To ensure their continued relevance, amendments to the By-Laws are made from time-to-time and are reviewed, approved and adopted by the Fellows of the Society at an Anniversary Meeting (Annual General Meeting, AGM). The most recent update to the By-Laws was implemented in November 2021. Additional policies underpinning the By-Laws are available upon request from the details below.

The By-Laws of the Royal Historical Society (as of November 2021) 

The Royal Historical Society is an academic learned society, but is not a professional body regulating the activities of those working within history or associated disciplines. The Society seeks to advocate for best practice both in academic practice and community engagement, but it does not arbitrate in matters of academic discourse, behaviour or conduct.

The RHS supports academic freedom of speech and writing. We promote high professional and ethical standards, not just in publications and institutions but also in the conduct of individual historians and in the teaching of the discipline. All fellows and members should avoid personal and professional misconduct that might bring the Society or the reputation of the profession into disrepute.

Concerns about professional standards should be dealt with by and between institutions and individuals. Any complaint that involves a potential criminal offence or violation of a set of professional standards required by another body will be reported to the appropriate authority. Legal action that reflects on an individual’s suitability to operate in the discipline of history may be regarded as misconduct by the Society. The Society’s trustees have a duty to report allegations about certain serious incidents to the Charity Commission for England and Wales.

If you are concerned about the conduct of an RHS fellow or member, you may request a copy of our Disciplinary Procedures from