REF2021 and History: an overview

The Research Excellence Framework (REF), undertaken by the UK’s four HE funding bodies, provides a review and assessment of research in higher education. The results of the latest assessment (REF2021) were published on 12 May 2022.

To accompany publication of the results, Professor Mark Jackson and Professor Margot Finn — respectively chair and deputy chair of the History sub-panel for REF2021 — offer an overview of this latest review, its headline findings for History, and their reflections on disciplinary developments since REF2014.

Mark and Margot’s article reflects on some of the main processes and outcomes of the History sub-panel in its assessment of Outputs, Impact, and research Environments.

Fuller details will be provided in the Sub-panel and Main Panel D (Arts and Humanities) reports published later in May. Over the summer, REF will place further information in the public domain on its website. This will include the text of all submitted Impact Case Studies and Environment statements, providing extensive information about historical practice in the UK.


Developing the Royal Historical Society Archive: Phase 2 Begins

The Society is very pleased to have recently received generous support, from the Marc Fitch Fund, for the second phase of its archive development programme.

This new funding award follows the completion in January 2022 of ‘phase one’ of the project which saw cataloguing and conservation of the Society’s collection of papers relating to the historian and government adviser, Sir George W. Prothero (1848-1922).

Over the next few months we will continue to research, catalogue and publicise three remaining areas of the Society’s collection:

  • papers relating to the running, membership and management of the Society ‘the RHS collection’, from its foundation in 1868 to 2019
  • papers of the Camden Society, founded in 1838, which merged with the Society in 1897
  • correspondence of the Tudor historian, Professor Sir Geoffrey Elton (1922-1994), concerning his publications and literary estate.



In each case, work will see the creation of a new online catalogue, re-ordering of collection items, conservation and correct storage, and scanning of selected papers. The next phase of work will be undertaken by the Zoë Karens, who also oversaw completion of the Prothero catalogue in 2020-21. Zoë is a former archivist at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London.

Phase two of the project begins shortly with a review of papers relating to the ‘RHS collection’: its management, activities, membership and management.

Items here include the Society’s minutes, agenda and attendance books dating from the early 1870s; early financial and administrative records; fellowship and membership records; accounts of projects undertaken by the Society; and event cards advertising annual lectures from 1905 to 2022. An initial selection of artefacts from this part of the collection is available here.

Details of the new catalogues will be publicised and explained in the coming months as work on each of the three sections — RHS collection, Camden Society, and Elton correspondence — is completed.

For more on the Society’s collections, please see the Library & Archive pages of the RHS website. Those wishing to consult the archive for research should contact: administration@royalhistsoc.org.


History at Goldsmiths

On 8 April Goldsmiths, University of London, announced a series of redundancies among academic and academic-related staff. Sixteen staff are included in this announcement. Five historians (covering 2.8 full-time teaching roles), along with the department’s administrator, are among those whose posts will end in July, unless alternative employment is found at the university.

We are extremely disappointed by this decision. Despite repeated representations from many organisations, including the Society, Goldsmiths is taking steps deeply damaging to the careers of individual historians. We now expect those affected to be fully supported by the University and all options considered, to retain the skills and expertise of as many people as possible.

Equally, as a national and international community of historians, we need now to support those colleagues who remain in post, and who will shape the future of History at Goldsmiths. As they and their colleagues have shown, Goldsmiths offers a unique and vital contribution to historical research and teaching—as part of the wider University of London and humanities education nationally.

For many History students, for many reasons, and from many parts of the UK, Goldsmiths offers—and will continue to offer—the best place to study and research.

We are sure many in the Society will join in providing what support we can to all colleagues at Goldsmiths, now and in the immediate future. We owe this to all History staff, as well as to the students they educate and the communities with whom they work.

The President and Council of the Royal Historical Society


Royal Historical Society Prothero Lecture, 6 July 2022

The Gaiety Girl and the Matinee Idol

Constructing Celebrity and Sexuality in the West End of London, 1880-1914


Professor Rohan McWilliam
(Anglia Ruskin University)
5pm, Wednesday 6 July 2022
Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College London


The Royal Historical Society’s 2022 Prothero Lecture will be given by Professor Rohan McWilliam at the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, University College London. Booking for the lecture is available here.

In ‘The Gaiety Girl and the Matinee Idol’ Professor McWilliam argues that in the later Victorian period the West End of London embodied the shock of the new. It became the world’s leading pleasure district and reshaped British culture in distinctive ways.

Between 1880 and 1914, the West End helped in particular to invent modern ideas not only of sexuality and stardom but glamour itself. New forms such as musical comedy at the Gaiety Theatre on the Strand and Daly’s on Leicester Square constructed images of what was fashionable and up-to-date.

The lecture ranges from music halls and theatres to different kinds of mass culture, including the poster and the picture postcard.


Rohan McWilliam is Professor of Modern British History at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and a formerPresident of the British Association for Victorian Studies.

He is at work on a history of the West End of London, the first volume of which was published in 2020: London’s West End: Creating the Pleasure District, 1800-1914 (Oxford University Press.



The Lecture will be followed by the Society’s Summer Party, held in the North Cloisters, University College London, from 6.30pm. We look forward very much to welcoming RHS Fellows, members and all attendees of the lecture.



The Royal Historical Society’s Prothero Lecture is the principal named lecture in the Society’s annual events programme.

First delivered in 1969, the Lecture is named for the historian and editor Sir George W. Prothero (1848-1922), Professor of History at the University of Edinburgh and RHS President, 1901-1905. This year’s lecture is given in the same week as the centenary of Prothero’s death (on 10 July 1922).

Previous Prothero Lecturers include: Samuel H. Beer, Joanna Bourke, Linda Colley, Stefan Collini, Natalie Zemon Davis, Olwen Hufton, Sujit Sivasundaram, Quentin Skinner and Keith Thomas. Article versions by these and other Prothero lecturers are available in the Society’s journal, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society.


‘Giving Birth in Eighteenth-Century England’: latest New Historical Perspectives title

Giving Birth in Eighteenth-Century England, by Dr Sarah Fox (University of Birmingham), — the latest title in the Society’s New Historical Perspectives series — is published on Wednesday 13 April.



This fascinating new book radically rewrites all that we know about eighteenth-century childbirth by placing women’s voices at the centre of the story. From quickening through to confinement, giving caudle, delivery and lying-in, birth was once a complex ritual that involved entire communities.

Drawing on an extensive and under-researched body of materials, such as letters, diaries and recipe books, this book offers critical new perspectives on the history of the family and community.



In Giving Birth in Eighteenth-Century England, Sarah Fox explores the rituals of childbirth, from birthing clothing to the foods traditionally eaten before and after birth, and also how a woman’s relationship with her family, husband, friends and neighbours changed during pregnancy and beyond. In this important and deeply moving study, we are invited on a detailed and emotive journey through motherhood in an age of immense intellectual and sociocultural change.

Published on Wednesday 13 April, Giving Birth in Eighteenth-Century England is available free Open Access, as well as in hard and paperback print, and e-book formats, from its publisher, University of London Press and US distributor, University of Chicago Press.

About the NHP Series

New Historical Perspectives (NHP) is the Society’s Open Access book series for early career scholars (within ten years of their doctorate), commissioned and edited by the Royal Historical Society, in association with University of London Press and the Institute of Historical Research.

The Series Editors and Editorial Board welcome proposals for new NHP titles. Proposals may include full-size monographs and edited collections of up to 100,000 words. The NHP series also publishes shorter monographs (50-60,000 words) where this is an appropriate length for a topic.

Many NHP authors are publishing their first book, and editorial mentoring and Author Workshops are designed to help with the transition from PhD to monograph. Equally, the Series Editors welcome proposals for second books from authors within 10 years of completing their doctorates.



Giving Birth in Eighteenth-Century England is the twelfth title published in the series. Other monographs and edited collections appearing in 2022 include:


Ukraine Scholars at Risk: History and Slavonic and East European Studies


Fellowships and fundraising

On 23 March 2022, the Royal Historical Society (RHS), British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES) and the Past and Present Society (P&P) announced funding towards three short-term fellowships (minimum 3 months) at higher education institutions in the UK, European Union or elsewhere in continental Europe to provide a place of academic refuge for three scholars from Ukraine.

From 29 March, we are delighted to be joined by the Ecclesiastical History Society (EHS) which is funding a fourth fellowship to provide a place of academic refuge for a scholar from Ukraine active in the study of the history of Christianity.

From 13 April, the German History Society (GHS) has announced funding for a fifth fellowship to support a Ukrainian researcher working on the history of Germany and the German-speaking world in the broadest sense. We are very grateful for the GHS’s involvement and provision of an additional placement.

In addition to these five fellowships, the RHS and BASEES are also currently fundraising to provide additional fellowships.

About the fellowship scheme

Each grant is worth £5,000 (€6,000) to the Fellow and must be matched by equivalent funds AND / OR in-kind assistance from the host institution (for example, travel, accommodation, meals, office space and IT support, plus insurance) of a financial sum equivalent to the £5,000 (€6,000) grant for a minimum duration of three months, to begin as soon as possible.

To best support Ukrainian scholars at risk, we also welcome applications from host institutions willing to offer more than match-funding, whether as a financial sum or in-kind assistance.

Two grants (funded by the RHS and P&P) will be reserved for Ukrainian scholars displaced by the Russian invasion who are undertaking historical research in the broadest sense. A third grant (funded by the EHS), will be Ukrainian scholars studying the history of Christianity

One grant (funded by BASEES) will be for any displaced Ukrainian scholar in the field of Slavonic and East European studies.

Host institutions can offer these fellowships to PhD candidates, Early Career or established scholars.

Further information and how to apply

We now invite applications from higher education institutions willing and able to host a Ukrainian scholar with support from an RHS, BASEES, P&P, EHS, GHS grant.

More on the scheme and how to apply. The closing date for applications is Wednesday 20 April 2022.

All applications must be made via the RHS online applications portal. Successful host institutions will be notified as soon as possible after the closing date of Weds 20 April.

Fundraising for additional fellowships

The RHS and BASEES are also fundraising to increase the number of grants we can make available. This campaign can be accessed here: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/baseesandrhsSARfellowships 

Additional funds raised will support extra fellowships. We will announce these to interested universities as soon as the funding for one or more additional fellowship becomes available.

We also welcome involvement from other learned societies / organisations in the historical and social sciences who wish to partner on future Ukraine fellowship grants. Those wishing to do so may contribute via the RHS/BASEES JustGiving page or contact the Society’s CEO: adam.hughes@royalhistsoc.org.

Thank you, in advance, for any contribution you are able to make.

Further enquiries about the fellowship scheme from potential host institution, or about fundraising for additional fellowships, email: administration@royalhistsoc.org.


RHS Doctoral Fellowships, 2022-23 – call for applications

Applications are now invited for the RHS Centenary and Marshall doctoral fellowships, 2022-23. The fellowships, funded by the Royal Historical Society, are intended to cover the final 6 or 12 months of doctoral research in History.

Fellowships are held at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, and include training and preparation for work after completion of the doctorate.

Both the Centenary and Marshall Fellowships are worth £15,726 for a full year (or £7,863 for a 6-month award).

Both fellowships are open to candidates without regard to nationality or academic affiliation.

Applications are made via the Institute of Historical Research, University of London. The IHR site provides further information on the Fellowships, what they offer and how to apply via the Institute’s online application system.

Closing date for applications: Tuesday 19 May 2022, with interviews in June / July tbc.

Holders of the Centenary and Marshall Fellowships will have the opportunity to contribute to the Royal Historical Society’s blog on their research and to take part in RHS events and training. Holders who are not already members of the Society will receive a 12-month Postgraduate Membership of the Royal Historical Society.

The Marshall Fellowships are supported by the generosity of Professor Peter Marshall, formerly Rhodes Professor of Imperial History at King’s College London and President of the Royal Historical Society from 1996 to 2000. The Marshall Fellowship supports final year PhD students to complete a doctorate and to develop their career.




HEADER IMAGES, clockwise from bottom left: Serape, c.1865, Unidentified, Navajo weaving, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, public domain; University College London: the main buildings seen from Gower Street. Engraving. Wellcome Collection, public domain; Festival of Muḥarram: a procession. Gouache painting by an Indian painter, c.1800-1899?, Wellcome Collection, public domain.


RHS journal articles now available on ‘First View’

We are very pleased to announce the availability of our first ever ‘First View’ article for Transactions of the Royal Historical Society: Dr Jenni Hyde’s ‘Popular Propaganda: John Heywood’s Wedding Ballad and Mary I’s Spanish Match’.



Dr Hyde’s article — which considers the value of John Heywood’s ballad in defending Mary’s wedding to Philip of Spain in 1554 — is available Open Access.


‘First View’ and other journal developments in 2022

The article’s publication marks an important new direction for the Society’s journal in its 150th anniversary year.

‘First View’ means that new journal content will now be available soon after acceptance and completion, and need not wait until the publication of Transactions as an annual print volume each November.

Dr Hyde’s ‘Popular Propaganda’ is also the first submitted article to be published following the journal’s opening up to all historians in 2021. Previously, Transactions content had comprised lectures and papers delivered at events hosted by the RHS.

The Society will continue to publish articles based on recent lectures and events (and you’ll soon find examples on ‘First View’, beginning with Dr Katrina Navickas’s ‘The Contested Right of Public Meeting in England from the Bill of Rights to the Public Order Acts’), to which submitted content will now be added.


Submitting your article to Transactions

We now welcome submission of articles, for peer review, from historians worldwide working across all fields of history. If you’re finishing an article, please do consider Transactions as a journal to which you submit.

Completed articles may be submitted here for review by the journal’s Editors and Editorial Board.



New look for annual volumes of Transactions

Annual volumes of Transactions will continue to appear, online and in print, each November. In its 150th year, the journal will — for the first time — appear in paperback and with a new cover design. More details of this shortly.

Transactions of the Royal Historical Society is published by Cambridge University Press, now via its ‘First View’ option.



History for Ukraine: 24-hour online History event

History for Ukraine is a 24-hour online History event to raise money for the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal.

It’s scheduled to take place over Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th March, and will see a host of historians and genealogists, worldwide, each speak on their research and love of history for 15 minutes, and then take 15 minutes of audience questions.

Those who’ve already signed up to take part include:

  • Professor Suzannah Lipscomb
  • Dr Fern Riddell
  • Professor Kate Williams
  • Dr Janina Ramirez
  • Charles Spencer, Earl Spencer

They will be joined by many other professional historians (including Fellows of the Royal Historical Society) and genealogists from around the world to offer a programme of informative talks and discussions on a huge variety of topics.

History for Ukraine is also supported by a number of prominent organisations, including The National Archives, Royal Historical Society and the Society of Genealogists, along with over 200 volunteers and local history groups.

History For Ukraine is the idea of genealogist Natalie Pithers, who describes the event as ‘a combination of Live Aid and Red Nose Day, but for history’. Natalie adds: ‘The people of Ukraine  need our help now, and this unique event provides the history community with an opportunity to come together and help in the best way we can.’

Attendees will be asked to make donations to the Disasters Emergency Committee Ukraine Appeal via a special JustGiving page. The event is provisionally scheduled to take place on Saturday 26th to Sunday 27 March 2022 (times and schedule to be finalised).

Would you like to get involved?

If you’re a Fellow or Member of the Royal Historical Society, and would like to get involved in the event as a speaker, please do let us know.

Natalie is still looking for historians to take part in the 24 hour event. If you wish to get involved, please email administration@royalhistsoc.org and mark your email ‘Ukraine’ setting out your availability and the subject on which you’d like to speak. The RHS will then forward your expression of interest to Natalie.

Seeking historians in East Asia, Australasia, Latin and North America

History for Ukraine is currently especially seeking historians resident in East Asia, Australia, New Zealand as well as in Latin and central America and North America (west to east coasts of the US and Canada) to join the list of speakers for the 24-hour event.

Please do get in touch with the RHS, marking your email ‘Ukraine’ and we’ll put you in touch with the event organisers.

More information and publicity on History for Ukraine

Recent interviews with the organisers of History for Ukraine:


RHS Teaching Prizes, 2022: applications invited


Applications are now invited for the 2022 RHS Teaching Prizes in History. The Society awards two prizes annually in recognition of excellence, long-service and innovation in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching.

The Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching and Supervision in History

Named in honour of the Society’s first female President, Professor Dame Janet (Jinty) Nelson FBA, the prize rewards outstanding and sustained commitment to supervision — in particular those who are inspiring the next generation of historians to excel through undergraduate or postgraduate teaching.

The Royal Historical Society Innovation in Teaching Award

The  Society’s Innovation Award focuses on excellence in teaching at either undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Potential applicants may, for example, be individuals or groups of scholars working in collaboration, whose teaching has opened up the use of research materials by undergraduate or postgraduate students, or who have fostered new and original approaches to the discipline.

We now invite people to apply based on their record of teaching. We also ask colleagues to encourage their fellow historians to apply where a career or innovative teaching is deserving of recognition.

Further details on the prizes, eligibility and how to apply are available here.

The closing date for application is Monday 23 May 2022 with the winners announced at the Society’s annual awards ceremony on Friday 29 July 2022.