Three new Fellows elected to join RHS Council from January 2023

27 September 2022

Following recent elections to the RHS Council, we are very pleased to announce the appointment of three new councillors — Dr Kate Bradley, Dr Helen Paul and Professor Olwen Purdue — who will take up their roles from January 2023. We look forward to working with Kate, Helen and Olwen.

Three serving trustees will step down from the Council at the end of the year after their four-year term: Dr Adam Budd, Professor Chris Marsh and Professor Helen Nicholson. We are very grateful to Adam, Chris and Helen for their considerable contribution to the Society during this time.



Dr Kate Bradley (University of Kent)

I am a Reader in Social History & Social Policy in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent. Broadly speaking, I work on the history of social policy in the 20th century, and how voluntary, state and private welfare services are accessible (or not) to citizens. My most recent book is Lawyers for the Poor: Legal Advice, Voluntary Action and Citizenship in England, 1890-1990 (Manchester UP, 2019).

I stood for election to the RHS Council for two reasons: first, history ‘outside’ history; and second, keeping the Society’s momentum going with EDI.

Whilst I actively chose to be a historian outside a history department, institutional restructures have meant that historians can find themselves working in broader social sciences or humanities units. I want to demonstrate how and ensure that researchers’ identity as historians can be maintained in these working contexts, and how we communicate what history as a discipline has to offer. It is important to continue to hear from history department heads, but how can we also ensure we are hearing the voices of historians outside of this model on key issues?

The RHS has led the way amongst learned societies in looking at issues of equality, diversity and inclusion. It is important that we keep the momentum with this and look at disability and caring. There is much to do in terms of thinking about how history can be done inclusively, from our expectations about research to how we teach and support students. I approach this through my experiences of having ADHD, and I am really keen to learn about other experiences.

I have served the historical community in various ways – co-founding History Lab in 2005, co-convening History UK in 2015-16, and being a member of the Social History Society committee – along with experience of being a charity trustee for a multi-academy trust since 2017.  I am very much looking forward to drawing upon and building on these experiences with the RHS.



Dr Helen Paul (University of Southampton)

I am an economic historian based at the University of Southampton. I began my undergraduate career in Economics and Management and was not encouraged to do History at A level, let alone as a degree subject. Although I teach maths and economics, my research is not ‘mathsy’ and includes social history. I work primarily on the South Sea Company and enslavement. I have recently finished a six-year stint as Honorary Secretary of the Economic History Society. Before that I was chair of the EHS Women’s Committee.

I wanted to run for Council to ensure that historians in departments other than History were represented. For many of us, our research is still judged by different standards to our colleagues. For instance, economic history research is evaluated with regard to its ‘relevance to Economics’ (whatever that may mean).

Much of the advice given to historians relates to the History panel of the REF. I would like to advocate for people who are in a range of different departments but who are all historians. Sometimes they are the only one in their department and the only person who can teach history to ‘non-historians’. The Society can help to support them, particularly with regard to the REF.



Professor Olwen Purdue (Queen’s University Belfast)

I am Professor of Modern Social History at Queen’s University, Belfast where I work on the social history of nineteenth and early twentieth-century Ireland with a particular focus on social class, urban poverty and welfare. I am also increasingly interested in public history, particularly its role in divided societies.

Since the publication of my first monograph, The Big House in the North of Ireland: Land, Power and Social Elites, 1870-1960 (Dublin: UCD Press, 2009), I have turned my attention to poverty and welfare in the industrial city and have published several articles and edited collections on the subject, including, most recently, The First Great Charity of this Town: Belfast Charitable Society and its Role in the Developing City (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2022). A new monograph, Workhouse Child: Poverty, Child Welfare and the Poor Law in industrial Belfast, 1880-1918, is due out with Liverpool University Press in 2023. I was formerly international editor for The Public Historian and am currently series editor for Liverpool University Press’ Nineteenth-Century Ireland series.

I direct the Centre for Public History at Queen’s University and run the MA in Public History, and believe strongly in genuinely collaborative research. I’m a member of the Board of Directors of the Irish Museums Association, a member of the advisory board for the Ulster Museum, and a Governor of the Linen Hall Library.

As a new member of Council, I intend to work with colleagues to promote robust scholarship, advocate for the importance of the discipline, and equip emerging scholars with the tools to effectively communicate the significance of their work beyond academia and to engage with different public audiences in a range of ways.



Joining the RHS Council


Each year the Society holds elections to appoint three new councillors to serve as trustees of the Society for a four-year term. The Society encourages its Fellows to consider standing for election, in 2023 or at a later date. Enquiries about the role of an RHS Council member may be sent to:

For more on the work of the Council, please see our brief guide (June 2022)