RHS LGBT+ Histories and Historians Report

The Royal Historical Society has today launched its LGBT+ Histories and Historians report and resources. This is the fourth report on equality and inequality in UK History produced by the Society since 2015.  

LGBT+ Histories and Historians finds many examples of good practice, but also concerning evidence of discrimination, marginalisation and prejudice towards LGBT+ historians at all levels from undergraduate students to senior practitioners.

The Working Group that co-authored the report emphasise the importance of including LGBT+ and queer historians, histories and perspectives in academic teaching and research, as well as in museums, galleries, archives and libraries.

The report is made available in accessible and print-friendly formats, and is accompanied by a series of online resources intended to support the report’s recommendations, and demonstrate some of the variety of existing approaches to LGBT+ history.


Key findings include:

  • 1 in 4 LGBT+ staff have witnessed homophobic, transphobic or biphobic behaviour, attitudes or decisions between staff
  • 1 in 3 LGBT+ undergraduate historians have witnessed homophobic, transphobic or biphobic behaviour and/or attitudes between students.
  • 1 in 5 LGBT+ historians were hesitant or uncomfortable, or did not feel able to disclose their LGBT+ identity to colleagues and students.
  • 1 in 3 LGBT+ staff in History felt unsure, or did not think that they would be supported in challenging reluctance about, or hostility to, the teaching of LGBT+ histories in their department/classroom.
  • Within university settings, knowledge of equalities legislation and institutional policies to support diversity and inclusion is poor, even among senior staff.


Download the Report and Access the Resources


Professor Margot Finn, RHS President said:

Enhanced awareness, knowledge and understanding of LGBT+ experiences—and active work to disrupt discriminatory behaviours—will not only improve the day-to-day learning and working conditions of all students and all staff in History but also enrich the breadth and quality of teaching, research and public engagement in our discipline more broadly.  Attention to equality, diversity and inclusion continues to matter in pandemic times. As we grapple with the enormous challenges posed by coronavirus, educational, cultural and heritage organisations all need new ways of engaging with existing audiences and welcoming new ones.


Professor Frances Andrews, who led the working group that produced the report added:

As the first RHS vice-president for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, I am truly delighted to see this report published. It is the result of much hard work, careful discussion and analysis. Our 2019 survey showed us the vibrancy of LGBT+ and queer histories but the report also contains findings that are depressingly familiar.  Too many LGBT+ colleagues and students face a lack of understanding, or discrimination. We found pervasive unfamiliarity with equalities legislation and a reluctance to embrace LGBT+ histories in teaching, research or museum displays. Our report also underscores the difficulties faced by transgender historians. The report includes recommendations for improvement, and online resources to help that process.




A Message to School History Students

Congratulations to all students who have studied History as part of their A-Level, Advanced Highers and BTEC qualifications this year. Your hard work (and your teachers’ dedication) during the pandemic has been inspiring.

The analytical skills you’ve developed by studying History are excellent preparation for further study and your future careers — whether in the charity sector, consultancy, government, heritage organisations, legal studies, teaching or so many other professions.

The recent resolution of this year’s examination results is good news. The English and devolved governments’ decision to use your teachers’ assessments, rather than a faulty algorithm, will permit many more students to benefit from Higher Education in 2020-2021 in this unprecedented time. At the same time, we know that many of you are still unsure where, or in what format, you will be able to study this autumn, and that the uncertainties of the current situation are a source of great anxiety.

There are still places available on excellent History programmes across Britain, and a key feature of UK university History teaching is that excellence is found throughout the higher education sector. How do we know this?  As the main learned society for History in Britain, the RHS believes in basing our arguments on evidence.  We work closely with departmental heads, and each year for decades, we have visited different university History programmes to learn about what they’re doing to enhance their students’ experiences.

Innovations in personal tutoring, curriculum offerings, career development and research supervision abound in UK History programmes.  Our annual Teaching and Research prizes and the annual RHS History Today and History Scotland prizes (for the best undergraduate History dissertations) can recognise only a fraction of this excellence. But we repeatedly find that innovation and quality extends across the sector as a whole.

If you are still looking for a place to study History, you can find first-rate degree programmes – with highly satisfied students – across all institutional types. History can be studied in a wide variety of high-calibre departments, each with their own character and areas of excellence; some have established expertise in distance learning, and others make substantial provision for part-time and/or evening study.

The Royal Historical Society encourages you to explore the full range of History programmes to find the best one for you.  If you miss out on your first choice, this is an opportunity to identify a new, alternative first choice from among the many programmes on offer. Don’t hesitate to contact institutions’ helplines to explore your options.

Take time to find a programme that suits your interests — whether those are in the histories of medieval women, Latin American politics, Chinese cultural revolution, the Ottoman empire, religious wars in early modern Europe, the Black Atlantic, Enlightenment thought, innovative digital methods or many more.

Wherever you choose to study History, when you start your degree you’ll be greeted warmly by enthusiastic experts who are both first-rate scholars and committed teachers.

Our very best wishes will be with you from the start.

Professor Margot Finn
Royal Historical Society


RHS Awards 2020

The winners of all the 2020 RHS Publication, Fellowship and Teaching Awards, were announced in a virtual awards ceremony on Wednesday 22nd July.

A “bold and audacious” history of Ireland during the First World War, and an “ambitious, erudite and sophisticated” study of the Roman Equestrian order” were announced as the winners of the 2020 Royal Historical Society’s prestigious Whitfield and Gladstone Book Prizes.

Niamh Gallagher’s Ireland and the Great War: A Social and Political History, published by Bloomsbury Press, is the first book solely on Irish history to win the Whitfield Prize since the Society established the award in 1976.

Caillan Davenport’s A History of the Roman Equestrian Order, published by Cambridge University Press, won the Gladstone Prize. The book spans a thousand years of ancient history to chart the rise of the mounted Roman warrior aristocracy and its subsequent transformation into a landed elite.

Other winners included Marjory Harper (Aberdeen) for the Jinty Nelson Award for Inspirational Teaching and Supervision in History, and Tim Peacock (Glasgow) for the RHS Innovation in Teaching Award.

The ceremony included joint announcements with the Institute of Historical Research for the RHS Fellowships and IHR Prizes.

Full details and citations of the winners and runners up are here.


Launch of ECR Hardship Fund 2020 Campaign

On 17 July, the RHS launched an exceptional appeal to augment the funds available for its COVID-19 early career researcher Hardship Fund. These funds are designed to support early career historians facing hardship as a result of COVID-19, and the RHS made 22 financial awards in early July.

The appeal is being conducted through Just Giving, and is accessible here:


Further details of the COVID-19 ECR Hardship Grants scheme are available on the RHS website here.


RHS Statement on Council Resolution

Today, at a regularly scheduled Council meeting, the Royal Historical Society considered a motion under Article VIII of its by-laws, relating to the conduct of a Fellow. As a registered charity, we have proceeded according to our legally binding by-laws in the discussion of this matter and the balloting of Council.

We received numerous communications from Fellows and Members of the Society forcefully registering their objections to Dr David Starkey’s comments, and to his Fellowship status.

Following discussion by our elected Council and officers, it was unanimously resolved by ballot that these comments were clearly (as per the wording of Article VIII) “inconsistent with membership of the Society”.

Our by-laws state:
‘If the conduct of any Fellow, Associate or Member, or of any elected Officer or Councillor, shall appear to the Council to be inconsistent with membership of the Society, or with the office held, or with membership of the Council, the Council may, by ballot and by the vote of not less than two-thirds of the members of Council present and voting, resolve that he/she be requested to resign. A Fellow, Associate, Member, elected Officer, or Councillor so requested shall have the right of appeal to a Special Meeting of the Society, at which the question shall be decided by ballot; and if the recommendation of the Council be approved by the vote of two-thirds of the Fellows present and voting this shall take immediate effect as if the resignation so requested had been received.’

As a result, the Royal Historical Society has today, 3 July 2020, resolved that Dr Starkey be requested to resign his fellowship of the Royal Historical Society with immediate effect. This decision and the request that he resign his Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society have today been communicated to Dr Starkey.

RHS President Professor Margot Finn states: “We unequivocally condemn Dr Starkey’s utterly repugnant comments. The Royal Historical Society has a clearly articulated commitment to equality. This commitment includes a categorical and unequivocal rejection of racism, which these remarks clearly display. Our work to identify and challenge inequality (including racism) in our discipline is proactive and ongoing.”

Update: On Monday 13 July 2020, in response to Council’s resolution of 3 July 2020, Dr Starkey tendered his resignation of his Fellowship of the Royal Historical Society.


RHS Submits Response to UKRI Open Access Review

The RHS has made a substantial response to the UKRI Open Access Review, the outcome of which will determine open access policies for the UK Research Councils and inform the requirements for outputs submitted to the REF after REF2021.

Full information about the UKRI consultation is available here: https://www.ukri.org/funding/information-for-award-holders/open-access/open-access-review/.

Download the Royal Historical Society’s full response to the consultation here.


RHS Responds to REF2021 Revised Timetable Consultation

In April 2021, in response to COVID-19, REF 2021 invited views from the HE sector on two central issues for the revised exercise: the timing of the new submission deadline; and the broad approach to taking account of effects on impact case studies.

For further information see: https://www.ref.ac.uk/news/views-invited-on-first-questions-about-ref-timetable/

Following discussion in Council (Friday 1 May 2020), the Royal Historical Society submitted a response to the two questions posed.

Download the response.


2020 Gladstone Prize Shortlist

The Shortlist for the 2020 RHS Gladstone Book Prize has been announced today.

The list recognises the scholarly contribution and quality of six excellent history monographs. This is one of two annual book prizes awarded by the RHS each year.

The overall winner will be announced in July.

Find out more about all the nominated books for this year’s Gladstone Prize on the Historical Transactions blog.


RHS Launches Two Schemes to Support Early Career Historians

Each year, the Royal Historical Society aims to support around 200 UK-based early career researchers (of any nationality) with grant awards totalling just over £60,000. COVID-19 is having a major impact on the scholars we would normally fund. Today, the Royal Historical Society is announcing two new schemes to support UK-based early career researchers in History during this time.

  • The first scheme is a partnership with Adam Matthew Digital offering free and full access for 12 months to the publisher’s digital collections of primary sources for 200 early career historians. Find out more here.
  • The second scheme is an emergency COVID-19 Hardship grant fund to offer individual grants of up to £500 to provide some short-term material assistance in the COVID-19 context. Find out more here.