RHS Adam Matthew Digital Collections Subscriptions

The Royal Historical Society (RHS) is delighted to announce that Adam Matthew Digital (AM) has generously agreed to award the Society 200 twelve-month subscriptions to its digitised collections of primary sources. These licenses will be made available free-of-charge to early career researchers (ECRs) based at UK universities for their doctorate.  This agreement will significantly enhance the access of ECR historians to digital primary materials during the dislocations, travel restrictions and archive and library closures that are necessitated by the COVID-19 crisis in 2020. You can find out more about the scheme’s launch on the RHS blog.

How do I apply?

The 200 free subscriptions will be allocated by the RHS in 3 successive tranches, with deadlines in late May, June and July 2020.

While we do not have a precedent to gauge potential demand, we expect the number of eligible and worthy applications to be considerably higher than the number of available subscriptions. Allocation will accordingly be phased over a 3-month period and undertaken by a 3-fold process:

  • determination of applicants’ eligibility;
  • assessment of eligible applicants’ relative need for the Adam Matthew Digital Collections to advance their research; and
  • in the event that demand exceeds supply, awards will be made by a lottery of eligible applicants who demonstrate substantial need. Please see the Q&A below for more information.
Applications for a RHS Adam Matthew Digital Collections Subscription must be made using the online application form. Please note that you can access the application form through the Research/Conference Grants program within the RHS applications portal.


Prospective applicants should:

  • Check their eligibility against the criteria detailed below;
  • If eligible to apply, explore the Adam Matthew Digital Collections to identify which if any materials are substantially relevant for your research project. The 200 twelve-month subscriptions Adam Matthew has kindly allocated to the RHS include not only the 8 million+ pages of primary source material in the Research Source Platform, but also over 70 thematic collections made available through 2019.
  • Having confirmed both eligibility and the need for/utility of the Adam Matthew Digital Collections for your research, make an online application by any one of the 3 stated deadlines.
  • Please note that (unless you specify otherwise) if your application in Round 1 is unsuccessful, but deemed by the RHS assessors to be both eligible and to demonstrate substantial need/utility with respect to the Adam Matthew Digital Collections, it will be resubmitted automatically by RHS for Rounds 2 and 3.  Likewise, eligible applications that demonstrate substantial need/utility which are initially submitted in Round 2 will automatically be resubmitted by RHS for Round 3.

Who is eligible to apply?

Two categories of History ECRs are eligible to apply:

  • Those registered for a PhD/DPhil or an MPhil in a historical subject at a UK institution. Registration may be full-time or part-time.
  • Those within two years (at the time of the application) of receiving their doctorate from a UK institution, and who are not yet in full-time employment. Please note the two years does not include any periods of maternity or paternity leave. Please detail this in the ‘any other information’ section of your application form.

Questions and Answers:

  • Do I need to be physically-based in the UK at the time of my application?
    •   We understand that international and other eligible ECRs may be resident outside the UK at the time of their application.  If you are/were registered for a doctoral degree at a UK university (for PhD/DPhil students) OR would normally be resident in the UK as of March 2020 (for postdoctoral ECRs) your current place of residence need not be within the UK.
  • Can I share my Adam Matthew Digital subscription with other students or researchers?
    • Your subscription is awarded solely for your personal research use. The application form includes a fair use declaration to which you agree to adhere in applying for this scheme.
  • Why is the RHS using a lottery as part of its allocation process?
    • Allocation of research resources by lottery is a mechanism that is currently being tested internationally where demand exceeds supply. It arguably affords less scope for conscious or unconscious bias than conventional grant allocation systems.  In the current context, its benefits also include rapidity. It also takes into account the extent to which this scheme will entail work for Adam Matthew Digital and RHS staff already stretched by the demands of the COVID-19 crisis.  The RHS will employ this mechanism, after preliminary peer-review assessments of eligibility and need/utility, in the event that more ECRs apply than can be accommodated by this scheme.
  • Do I need to provide a post-award report to the RHS and/or to Adam Matthew Digital?
    • Successful applicants will be asked to provide a short report on the uses to which the grant has been put and the outcome in terms of contribution to the progress of their research following the end of the subscription.
  • If I receive a RHS Adam Matthew Digital Collections Subscription will my eligibility to apply in future for standard RHS funding (for research trips or conferences) be affected?
    • No. Receipt of a subscription will not ‘count’ against your total eligibility (currently twice as a PhD student and once as a postdoctoral ECR) to receive awards from our standard funding schemes.
  • Do I need to acknowledge the support of Adam Matthew Digital and/or the RHS in my dissertation and/or subsequent publications?
    • Please use the following credit line in any research outputs that benefit from the subscription: ‘Research for this article/blog/dissertation/book was supported by the award of a Royal Historical Society Adam Matthew Digital subscription in 2020.’

Contact Us

All enquiries should be sent to Imogen Evans, RHS Administrative Secretary at adminsecretary@royalhistsoc.org.