Royal Historical Society appoints Lucy Noakes as its new President from 2024

17 January 2024

The Council of the Royal Historical Society is delighted to announce the appointment of Lucy Noakes as its next President from November 2024.

Lucy Noakes is Rab Butler Professor of Modern History at the University of Essex and a social and cultural historian of early to mid 20th-century Britain. She will take up the Presidency of the Royal Historical Society in November 2024 when she succeeds the current President, Emma Griffin, who completes her term in office later this year.

Lucy will be the 36th President of the Royal Historical Society since its formation in 1868. As President, Professor Noakes will lead the Society’s work to advocate for the historical profession and to promote the value of historical knowledge and understanding, in higher education and related sectors.

Before joining the University of Essex in 2017, Lucy Noakes held academic posts at the universities of Southampton Solent, Portsmouth and Brighton. As a specialist in the history of modern Britain, Lucy researches the experience and memory of those who have lived through conflict, with a particular focus on the First and Second World Wars. Her recent monographs include Dying for the Nation. Death, Grief and Bereavement in Second World War Britain (2020) and War and the British: Gender, Memory and National Identity 1939-1991 (revised edition 2023). Lucy’s work has made extensive use of the Mass Observation Archive, of which she is now a trustee.

On her election as the next President of the Royal Historical Society, Lucy Noakes said:

I am honoured and excited to be leading the Royal Historical Society as its new President from November 2024. This is a time of considerable opportunity and challenge for history and historians.

History is currently thriving in many ways: public interest in the past is unparalleled and today’s historians are working with great creativity, dedication and skill to bring their research to new audiences. Equally, history is facing unprecedented pressures, most notably in higher education where its value and contribution to society is often under-appreciated.

The Royal Historical Society is central to both these environments—championing history’s opportunities and potential while supporting and defending the discipline and profession. As President, I look forward greatly to working with the Society’s Council, its membership, and the wider historical community, to pursue these important goals.

To accompany the announcement, Lucy has written today for the RHS blog onHistory and Memory in the 21st Century’.


Emma Griffin, President of the Royal Historical Society, 2020-24, said:

I am absolutely delighted to welcome Lucy as President-Elect of the Royal Historical Society and look forward to working with her in the coming months. Lucy is a brilliant historian and ideally suited to lead the Society and to develop its work as the national voice for history and historians.

With a wealth of experience in the historical society sector and in public history, Lucy fully appreciates the many ways historical research is now undertaken within and beyond higher education. I’m sure her interests and approach will be appreciated by the Society’s membership, and attract many more historians to join the Society and support its promotion of the discipline.


Commenting on the appointment, Jane Winters, chair of the Society’s Presidential Selection Committee, said:

Lucy has the ideal mix of expertise and experience to lead the Royal Historical Society in supporting and championing historians wherever they are found. She has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by different kinds of institution, both within and outside higher education, and an outstanding track record of working across sectors to promote and advance the discipline of history.

Lucy combines exceptional scholarship with extensive management and leadership experience, and takes a wonderfully collaborative approach to both. I’m delighted that she will be taking over as President from November 2024, to build on the work of Emma and her predecessors.


The Royal Historical Society is the UK’s foremost learned society for the support of history and historians. Founded in 1868, today’s Society is an international membership organisation of more than 6,000 historians working in higher education, archives, museums, publishing and broadcasting, as well as independent researchers and in community history groups.

The Society undertakes advocacy for the historical profession and promotion of the value of history; policy and research in areas relating to the discipline; a programme of public lectures and events; provision of research funding; and scholarly publishing, including its journal, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society (founded in 1872).