RHS Conversations 2024: Doing History In Public

‘Doing History in Public’

A New Series of Consultative Conversations for Historians in 2024


The Royal Historical Society is pleased to announce a new venture for 2024 organised around 3 evidence-gathering ‘Conversations’, between historians, to identify the resources and guidance most useful to support those ‘doing history in public’.

Increasingly, postgraduates are encouraged to focus on Engagement and Impact to distinguish themselves in a straitened job market. Meanwhile, mid-career historians are encouraged by departments to devote substantial time and effort to this activity. It is no longer the case that the most public facing historians are senior academics with decades of experience and secure employment and professional reputations: increasingly, historians at all stages of their careers are encouraged to do their work in public.

The practice of ‘doing history in public’ brings with it opportunities, challenges and risks which these Conversations hope to identify with the aim of better supporting the Fellow- and Membership of the Royal Historical Society.

About the Conversations

Three online Conversations, each lasting 90 minutes, will be held between April and September 2024.

These three events will bring together interested RHS Fellows and Members to contribute to discussions, identifying issues and scoping 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:

  • Workshop 1: Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums (2pm, Tuesday 30 April 2024)
  • Workshop 2: Print (both in terms of media and wider publishing) (10am, Thursday 20 June 2024)
  • Workshop 3: Broadcast (visual and audio, scripted and live) (6pm, Wednesday 18 September 2024)

These conversations are designed as confidential spaces where colleagues can bring ideas, experiences and questions to share with others. We will respect the ‘Chatham House Rules’ convention. Conversations will be confidential to participants and details or points will not be shared outside the sessions, except as the anonymised basis for producing supportive resources.

When there are useful general points that arise from discussion we will bring these to the Society’s Council to help inform future planning. But above all, we hope to create a space that is respectful of different experiences, backgrounds and professional affiliations, and where we can learn more about a pressing issue for historians.

Booking for Conversation 1 (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) is now open. This session will bring together historians, curators and archivists to consider approaches to working with historical material in the Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums sector, and to discuss attendees’ experiences (positive and negative) of working in this environment. Conversation 1 takes place, online, 2.00-3.30pm on Tuesday 30 April 2024.

Participation and Eligibility

In this first phase, Conversations will be limited to 20 Fellows and Members per session, to enable everyone to contribute fully and exchange experience and ideas. The sessions will be led by Dr Andrew Smith, a Councillor of the RHS with extensive of experience of practising history in public, with support from other Council members with expertise on public history.

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.