RHS News

Patrick, Lord Cormack (1939-2024)

The Society is very sorry to learn of the death, on Sunday 25 February, of the politician and historian, Patrick, Lord Cormack. In addition to his long career as an MP (1970-2010) and member of the House of Lords, Lord Cormack was a dedicated and greatly respected advocate for history and cultural heritage. 

Before entering parliament, Lord Cormack taught history in schools. From the 1970s, he served a very wide range of organisations dedicated to historical research and preservation. These included, among many others, the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (1981–2003), the Historic Churches Preservation Trust (from 2005, now the National Churches Trust), and the History of Parliament Trust, of which he was Chair from 2001 to 2016.

In 2010 Lord Cormack was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. For the RHS, he played an important role in connecting the Society to UK parliamentarians across party lines in the Commons and the Lords. These contacts included regular meetings between Ministers for Higher Education, the RHS Council, and other historians to consider subjects of significance and concern to the Society. 

Members of the Society’s Council last met with Lord Cormack in late 2023. With him Councillors were involved in planning further meetings with government ministers, and with parliamentarians interested in speaking up for history, until shortly before his death. In continuing and deepening these ties at Westminster, the Society seeks to maintain Lord Cormack’s valuable contribution to history’s place in national life.


Introducing ‘Doing History in Public’ – a new 3-part Conversation for historians

The Royal Historical Society is pleased to announce ‘Doing History in Public’, a new series of online ‘Conversations’ (April, June and September 2024) to explore historians’ experiences of working publicly – with museums and galleries, in print, and via broadcasting. Our 3 evidence-gathering Conversations seek to identify resources and guidance most useful to support those ‘doing history in public’.

Registration is now open for the first session, ‘Doing History in Public: Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums’, which takes place at 2pm on Tuesday 30 April.

This and subsequent Conversations will bring together interested RHS Fellows and Members to contribute to discussions, and to identify issues and where resources might be useful. Conversation themes will be organised around a series of public venues and formats in which historical research is undertaken and communicated:

Please note: this series is reserved for current Fellows and Members of the Royal Historical Society.

For those wishing to join the Society, we offer a range of options including Fellowship, Associate Fellowship, Membership and Postgraduate Membership. Applications to join the Society are welcome at any time.


Recording of Clare Anderson’s RHS-GHIL Global History Lecture Now Available

The recording is now available of Clare Anderson’s recent Global History Lecture, co-hosted by the Royal Historical Society and the German Historical Institute, London. The RHS / GHIL Lecture is a new annual event to showcase current research on global historical themes.

We are very grateful to Professor Clare Anderson (University of Leicester) for giving the inaugural lecture in this series. Clare’s lecture, ‘Convicts, Creolization and Cosmopolitanism: aftermaths of penal transportation in the British Empire’, took place at the German Historical Institute, London, on Tuesday 23 January.

In this lecture, Clare considered the personal legacies of convict transportation in three sites and societies: Australia, the state of Penang in Malaysia, and the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean. For each, Clare is conducting research with citizens who have discovered transported convicts as ancestors through their genealogical research.

The lecture explored historians’ ability to trace the aftermath of penal transportation in the very different environments of Australia, which is rich in archives, and Penang where some 5,000 transported convicts have left scant written record and legacies are now dependent on oral and material culture. Clare’s lecture concluded with a study of official and unofficial memorialisation of transported convicts, and the place of governments in shaping official presentations of the past.

As well as recent activities, details of future Royal Historical Society events, taking place in person across the UK and online, are available here. We look forward to welcoming you to one of these lectures, talks and workshops. You’ll also find recordings of many other recent Society activities in our Events Archive.


Greg Jenner and Emma Griffin discuss public history, comedy and popular broadcasting

On Tuesday 20 February, the Society was delighted to host broadcaster and historian, Greg Jenner, who was in conversation with RHS President Emma Griffin on ‘Finding the Funny in Public History’.

Greg discussed his career, from ‘Horrible Histories’ to You’re Dead to Me and his new book series for children, ‘Totally Chaotic History’, and how different formats — television, podcasts, radio and publishing — shape the ways we communicate about the past. Greg also spoke about his use of comedy to bring history to new audiences, and especially those for whom history was not a popular subject at school. ‘Finding the Funny’ in history offers ways to engage audiences, as well as risks: when is comedy about historical figures and events appropriate and when is it not?

The evening concluded with a Q&A session with our large in-person and online audience, on topics such as writing history for children, new formats for television history, and the positives and negatives of historical debate on social media.

Our warm thanks to Greg for this special RHS event and to all those who attended the evening in person or online. Video and audio recordings of the evening will be available soon.

Details of future Royal Historical Society events, taking place in person across the UK and online, are available here. We look forward to welcoming you to one of these lectures, talks and workshops. You’ll also find recordings of many recent Society activities in our Events Archive.


Society elects 159 new Fellows, Associate Fellows, Members and Postgraduate Members

At its latest meeting on 2 February 2024, the RHS Council elected 43 Fellows, 21 Associate Fellows, 38 Members and 57 Postgraduate Members, a total of 159 people newly associated with the Society, from today.

The majority of the new Fellows hold academic appointments at universities, specialising in a very wide range of fields; but also include museum curators, archivists, heritage consultants, and independent researchers and writers. The Society is an international community of historians and our latest intake includes Fellows from nine countries: Australia, China, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and United States.

The new Associate Fellows include not only early career historians in higher education but also historians with professional and private research interests drawn from heritage, libraries and archives, teaching, and public and community history.

The new Members have a similarly wide range of historical interests, and include individuals working in universities, culture and heritage, education, the civil service and broadcasting – together with independent and community historians and genealogists.

Our new Postgraduate Members are studying for higher degrees in History, or related subjects, at 40 different universities in the UK, Australia, China, Germany, India and the United States.

All those newly elected to the Fellowship and Membership bring a valuable range of expertise and experience to the Society.

New Fellows and Members are elected at regular intervals through the year. The current application round is open and runs to 25 March 2024. Further details on RHS Fellowship and Membership categories (Fellow, Associate Fellow, Member and Postgraduate Member); benefits of membership; deadlines for applications throughout 2024; and how to apply, are available here.

New Fellows, elected February 2024

  • Priyanka Basu
  • Miriam Bibby
  • Eleanor Bland
  • Dominique Bouchard
  • Stephen Bourne
  • Leah Broad
  • Carmen Casaliggi
  • Andrew Chibi
  • Tim Clarkson
  • David Como
  • Tim Duguid
  • Adam Evans
  • Andrew Fincham
  • Dexter Gabriel
  • Peter Good
  • Brian Heffernan
  • Bruce Hoffman
  • Mark Hudson
  • Anne Elizabeth Irfan
  • Leslie James
  • Gillian Kennedy
  • Anna Knutsson
  • Christian Langer
  • Siobhan Lavelle
  • Jonathan Lewis
  • Eugene Michail
  • Christian Parreno
  • Corinna Peniston-Bird
  • Susan Pennybacker
  • Reeju Ray
  • Conor Reidy
  • Lucy Robinson
  • Anwesha Roy
  • Chris Sandal-Wilson
  • Leslie Rogne Schumacher
  • David Smith
  • Loughlin Sweeney
  • Murat Antoni Ucerler
  • Julie Vanparys-Rotondi
  • Robin Whelan
  • Connor Wilson
  • James Wilson
  • Luca Zenobi

New Associate Fellows, elected February 2024

  • Melissa Baird
  • Costanza Beltrami
  • Robert Bevan
  • Kirsten Claiden-Yardley
  • Amy Coombs
  • Ashley Firth
  • Paul Garside
  • Deborah Hopkins
  • Ruth Lawlor
  • Karen Leenders
  • Yui Chim Lo
  • Lucy Newby
  • David Rayment
  • Mark Reeves
  • Baiyu Andrew Song
  • Kyle Stephens
  • Lauren Theweneti
  • Kate Werran
  • Natalie Marie Williams
  • Thomas Wright
  • Mariana Zegianini

New Members, elected February 2024

  • Adam Bean
  • Oliver Bell
  • Philip Blair
  • Stella Blakeman
  • Keith Bolton
  • Glenn Calderwood
  • Jana Carpenter
  • Gary Cooper
  • Jonathan Curry
  • Huw Davies
  • Rachel Denyer
  • Peter Elliott
  • William Gordon
  • Oliver Gray
  • Noah Hoysted
  • Eric Karch
  • Jessica Kinninger
  • Rasika Meena Kaushik
  • Brandon Moore
  • Tom Nolan
  • Christian Radnedge
  • Magda Riedl
  • Tim Ruffles
  • Robert Samanns
  • Peter Samuel
  • Paul Sayles
  • Hannah Sherrard
  • Stewart Simonson
  • Jonathan Sykes
  • Nin Fung Sze
  • Matthew Thomas
  • Prue Van der Craats
  • David Walter
  • Nicholas Watkins
  • Simon  Whitbourn
  • Sze Hang Wong
  • Mesut  Yıldız
  • Zile Yu

New Postgraduate Members, elected February 2024

  • Neil Achary
  • Nathaniel Agnew
  • Kerri Armstrong
  • Stefan Bernhardt-Radu
  • Tarini Bhamburkar
  • Daisy Bressington
  • Martina Carandino
  • Matthew Cerjak
  • Timothy Cheuk Yin Chan
  • Phyllis Chan
  • Estella Chen
  • Chen-yuan David Chuang
  • Jack Crosswaite
  • Thomas Cryer
  • Gareth Davis
  • Sebastián Delgado Suárez
  • Brittany Gittus
  • Samuel Harrison
  • Eleri Hedley-Carter
  • Katharine Hersee
  • Jaina Hunt
  • Han Jingyi
  • Elizabeth Koch Koluk
  • Cheng Hao Lee
  • Darren Lyon
  • Linquan Ma
  • Kartik Maini
  • Soumyaseema Mandal
  • Noel Mariam George
  • Phoebe McDonnell
  • Kate McGregor
  • Tara McKinney Marinus
  • Joseph Moore
  • Zeynep Olgun
  • Rebecca Palmer
  • Priya Parrotta
  • Ritika Patel
  • Alessandra Rocchetti
  • Ana Roda Sanchez
  • Margaret Rodgers
  • Louise Rodwell
  • Rutuja Rokade
  • Muhammad Romain
  • Catherine Ryan
  • Theresa Ryley
  • Lennart Schmidt
  • Graham Sparks
  • Harriet Steward
  • Francesca Strobino
  • Kay Symons
  • Victoria Turner
  • Diana Wallis
  • Georgia Whittaker
  • Neil Wilson
  • Sarah Wingrove
  • Nabiullah Zahid
  • Linjie Zhang


HEADER IMAGE: Ryogoku Hanabi no Zu, Utagawa Hiroshige (1797–1858),  Japanese, c.1841, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, public domain


Recordings of Levi Roach’s recent RHS Lecture now available

The recording of Levi Roach’s recent RHS Lecture is now available. Levi’s lecture explores the legacy of the Carolingian empire in the formation of the states and dynasties of early medieval Western Europe.

Levi’s lecture, ‘Charting Authority after Empire: Documentary Culture and Political Legitimacy in Post-Carolingian Europe’, was given at Mary Ward House, London, on Thursday 1 February.

Listen to the Lecture


In this lecture, Levi uses the charters issued by the rulers of Western Europe to show how new dynasties and kingdoms established themselves on the basis of existing, Carolingian traditions. In doing so, he focuses on a remarkable set of shared changes in the layout and appearance in these documents, which reveal much about the nature and significance of these transitions.

Levi is Associate Professor of Medieval History at the University of Exeter

You can also watch and listen to this, and many other, Society lectures and panel discussions via the RHS Events Archive.

Join us next for an evening with Greg Jenner

Join us for our next event — ‘Finding the Funny in Public History. In Conversation with Greg Jenner’ — which takes places at Mary Ward House, London, WC1E 9SN and online, at 6pm on Tuesday 20 February. All are very welcome. Details of other forthcoming events from the Society are available here.


Society welcomes broadcaster and historian Greg Jenner to discuss comedy and history

At 6pm on Tuesday 20 February, the Royal Historical Society is delighted to welcome Greg Jenner to speak on ‘Finding the Funny in Public History’.

Greg is one of the UK’s most popular public historians, well known for his work in podcasts, radio, TV, and publishing. He is the host and creator of the chart-topping comedy BBC podcast You’re Dead to Me (‘the comedy podcast that takes history seriously’), as well as the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Past Forward: A Century of Sound, the BBC’s award-nominated children’s podcast Homeschool History, and the Audible series A Somewhat Complete History of Sitting Down.

On Tuesday 20 February, Greg is in conversation with the RHS President, Emma Griffin. Greg will discuss his approach to public history; the ways in which broadcasting formats shape how we communicate about the past; the importance of comedy in history education; and the importance of research and experts in creating high-quality public history.


This special RHS event takes place at Mary Ward House, Bloomsbury, WC1H 9SN, and all are very welcome to attend. We hope this event will attract a wide audience, including from schools and colleges, as well as listeners and public historians. The event will include a conversation, followed by questions from our audience at the venue and online. For more about our ‘Evening with Greg Jenner’ and to reserve your seat/s, please click here.

If you’re unable to be there in person, the event will also be live-streamed and booking to watch online is available here.


Society responds to Ministry of Justice consultation on storage and retention of original will documents

The Council of the Royal Historical Society has submitted a response to the Ministry of Justice’s consultation paper on the ‘Storage and retention of original will documents’.

The Government’s proposal relates to the retention of wills as present-day and historical documents. HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) currently holds the original paper version of wills proved since 1858, following the Court of Probate Act (1857). The HMCTS has also created digital copies of wills granted probate in or after 2021.

The Government now proposes: i. a timescale of 25 years for the retention of the paper copies of wills digitised since 2021; and ii. digitisation of all wills dating from 1858, and the corresponding destruction of the original paper versions of these documents. Exceptions to the wholesale destruction of the post-1858 archive are proposed for wills of selected ‘famous people’, with Charles Darwin given as an example.

The Society’s response to the Ministry of Justice’s proposal is available here.

The RHS’s interest in this consultation relates to the importance of wills as historical documents and sources, both for professional historians and those undertaking personal research. The Society is extremely concerned by the proposal to destroy the paper archive of post-1858 wills, and by the Government’s claim that a digital copy is an equivalent document.

The deadline for responses to the consultation is Friday 23 February 2024. Responses and comments on the proposal are invited by the Ministry of Justice from individuals and organisations with experience of using wills as historical and legal documents.

A response to the consultation is expected from the Ministry by 31 May 2024.






Current Research Funding Calls from Royal Historical Society

Allocation of research funding is central to the Society’s work of supporting historians and historical research.

In 2023 the Society has awarded £110,085 in funding to historians through open competitions, generously assisted by partner organisations and donors. In 2023-24, the Society is continuing to develop and extend its funding programmes for historians, within and outside Higher Education, and at at all career stages.

Full details of the Society’s Research Funding programmes are available here. The Society currently invites applications for the following three schemes with closing dates of Friday 1 March 2024. For further information on each programme, eligibility and how to apply please follow the links below.

  • Early Career Research Fellowships for historians within 5 years of completing a PhD to support career-building research or activities in the post-PhD period. Awards of £2000, maximum, providing support for discrete outcomes lasting no more than 6 months. Next closing date for applications: Friday 1 March 2024.
  • Open Research Support Grants for all historians who are not postgraduate students or early career researchers (within 5 years of completing a PhD). Awards of either £500 or £1000 to support specified research activities. Next closing date for applications: Friday 1 March 2024.

Applicants for Royal Historical Society funding must be members of the Society, with several exceptions for Postgraduate grants. To find out how to become a Fellow, Associate Fellow, Member or Postgraduate Member, please see our Join Us page.

Enquiries concerning these, and other RHS Research Funding programmes, please contact: administration@royalhistsoc.org


Registration now open for ‘History and Archives in Practice’ 2024 in partnership with Cardiff University

Registration is now open for this year’s ‘History and Archives in Practice’ day conference (HAP24) which takes place on Wednesday 6 March 2024 at Cardiff University.

HAP is an annual gathering of historians and archivists to explore new projects, practices and collections. The conference is run jointly by the Royal Historical Society, Institute of Historical Research and The National Archives. This year, HAP is partnering with historians and archivists at Cardiff University, where the event will be held.

Our theme for HAP24 is ‘Historical Legacies: Collecting History, Historical Collections, and Community Voices’ (Welsh language version available here). The day combines panels, interactive sessions and collection demonstrations from over 15 projects, UK-wide, involving historians and archivists working collaboratively. A provisional programme for History and Archives in Practice, 2024 will be available online soon.

HAP24 provides opportunities to reflect on archival and historical legacies — of people, places, and practice; historical, physical, and digital. Join us as we consider questions of value, loss, preservation, access and the opportunities and challenges we face as historians and archivists in preserving histories and collections.

Bursaries to attend

HAP24 is a free event and organisers are committed to making the day as accessible and inclusive as possible.

There are a limited number of bursaries, of up to £150, available to support travel (for attendees based outside Cardiff), or to help with other costs (such as childcare) to enable attendance.

If you wish to be considered for a bursary please register for the event via the ‘book now’ button above and then complete the bursary application form, by Monday 19 February 2024. Applicants for bursaries will be notified of outcomes two weeks in advance of the event.#HAP24 is an in-person event at Cardiff University.

Please note that bookings for this event will close on 25 February 2024.