Public History Prize

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2019 Public History Prize

Forthcoming. Details will be announced in the New Year.


The Royal Historical Society announced the second round of The Public History Prize, in partnership with the IHR’s Public History Seminar and the Historical Association. The Prize recognises work that promotes public understanding of history and communicates a critical understanding of the past.

Nominations of public history work undertaken in the UK in 2017 were received in five categories:

  • Museums & Exhibitions
  • Film & TV
  • Radio & Podcasts
  • Online Resources
  • Public Debate & Policy


There was a prize-winner in each category, and an overall winner. Additionally, the panel awarded two student prizes for work in UK universities: one for undergraduates and one for post-graduates. The Society welcomes student work in any form that engages public audiences or deals with the roles of heritage, history and historians in public life.

The selection panel consisted of: Professor Tony Badger (Emeritus Professor, University of Cambridge); Professor Mary Beard (University of Cambridge); Dr. Alix Green (University of Essex); Professor Aled Jones; Professor Ludmilla Jordanova (Chair, Durham University); Dr Olwen Purdue (Queen’s University, Belfast); Professor John Tosh (Roehampton University).

2018 Public History Prize

The Winners of the Public History Prize 2018 were announced at an awards evening at the Mary Ward Hall on 26 January 2018 and details can be viewed here.

The 2018 Public History Symposium was held in Birmingham on 16 March 2018.


Details of the 2019 prize will be available shortly. Any enquiries can be sent to Dr Sue Carr, Executive Secretary (

Public History Prize 2015

Alix Green explains the importance of recognising achievement in public history:

Alix Green

Alix Green

There is excellent work being done across the country to engage people with the past in innovative and exciting ways, everything from museum exhibitions to historical film and theatre, from community heritage projects to digital resources.  But this work can often be unknown outside the area in which it’s done. The convenors and the RHS saw the need to raise the profile of public history and were keen to set up a prize to bring the kind of recognition to the best of these activities that awards in literature and the arts have achieved.  We hope not only to entice new audiences to history in all its forms, but also to help the field of public history develop by connecting people and celebrating success.”

 Aled Jones writes:

Aled Jones

Aled Jones

As a historian who now heads a national public cultural organisation, I feel passionately about the value of public history and its capacity to change lives. Our history is ever-present, and the richness and diversity of the ways it is conveyed to us, across a dazzling range of fields and media, is something that should rightly be celebrated. The Public History Prize will draw national and international attention to the brilliant work being done up and down the country, in small and major venues, to keep us all in touch with our past.”

Mary Beard reminisces about how public history inspired her:

Mary Beard

Mary Beard

In a way it was a great ‘public historian’ who got me into my own career in the first place. I was five years old and being taken to the British Museum for the first time. I remember straining to see a piece of ancient Egyptian carbonised cake high up in a case — when this curator came by, with some keys and unlocked the case, and got it out so I could see it properly. It may not be quite what we usually mean by ‘public history’, but for me it crystallizes many of its qualities. Someone literally wanted to open the past up for me, he went the extra mile, he brought the past to me without talking down to me — and it was an encounter I never forgot.”

 John Tosh writes:

 In addition to its contribution to culture and leisure, Public History is a resource for the critical citizen concerned with a wide range of public issues that invite historical perspective.  Newspaper columnists, political analysts and professional historians all make significant contributions to a historically informed public discourse. Britain’s ‘unwritten’ constitution, western policies in the Middle East, and the long history of experiments in welfare are just some of the questions that can be illuminated in this way. Dissemination – in digital form, on TV and on radio – can fuel critical debate, as well as establish a more reliable historical basis for interpreting the present. The Public History Prize therefore welcomes nominations that recognise well-founded historical contributions to current public discourse in any of these media.”  John Tosh

You can follow the prize or tweet about it using the hashtag #PublicHistoryPrize

All enquiries about the Public History Prize should be addressed to the Administrative Secretary, Ms Kerry Manning, at: