Creating Public History: a Guide to Co-production and Community Engagement

RHS online workshop for Early Career Historians, 7 December 2021



The next in a new RHS series of training workshops for early career historians.

The focus of this latest event (held on 7 December 2021) was ‘Creating Public History’: with our panellists, Professor Catherine Clarke, Dr Sara Huws and Amy Todd: three specialists in the co-production and community engagement in history.



Portraits, biographies and public history: the RHS Colin Matthew Lecture, 2021

On 2 November, the Society was delighted to hold its first in-person event of the year: the 2021 Colin Matthew Lecture for the Public Understanding of History, in association with Gresham College.

This year’s lecturer, Professor Ludmilla Jordanova, spoke on ‘Portraits, Biographies and Public History’, and specifically on inter-relationships between these three elements, to an audience at the Museum of London and online.

The lecture is available to watch here via YouTube.

The lecture explored, and challenged, the often marginal and decorative status of biography and portraiture in the disciplines of history and art history. Rather, as  Ludmilla Jordanova argued, both genres offer compelling ways ‘of opening up questions about the past … the shifts on reputations, the changing status of occupations, and much more’.

Portraits and biographies also inspire affective responses. These ensure their contribution to public history — defined here as a depictions of the past in the public domain — long before it became a popular twentieth-first century historical practice.

Central to the lecture was the historian and biographer, Colin Matthew (1941-1999) whose career embraced biography and portraiture through his founding editorship of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, trusteeship of the National Portrait Gallery, London, and his commitment to history, and both of these institutions, as means of public education.

Ludmilla Jordanova delivers the 2021 Colin Matthew Lecture, with a 1993 portrait image of Colin at his desk at the Oxford DNB.


Watch the 2021 Colin Matthew Lecture for the Public Understanding of History



The annual Colin Matthew Lecture was established in 2004 between Gresham College and the Royal Historical Society, where Colin served as Literary Director, 1985-89.

Videos of recent lectures, including those by David Olusoga, Mary Beard, Amanda Vickery and Justin Champion, are available via the Gresham website.

New Ways to Work: future directions for archival and historical practice

The Gerald Aylmer Seminar, for historians and archivists,     17 September 2021

In association with The National Archives and the Institute of Historical Research



The events of the past 18 months have fundamentally changed how, as archivists and historians, we now work—individually and collaboratively. In this year’s Gerald Aylmer Seminar, we invited archivists and historians of all kinds to come together to take stock of the extent, implications and future of these changes.

Under the theme of ‘New Ways to Work: future directions for archival and historical practice’, we considered how archivists and historians are working now, having been forced to make difficult decisions, to adapt and often to innovate in what we do and how we engage with one another. But in addition to looking at what’s changed, the Conference also also explored future ways of working: how do we best move forward in a relationship that won’t ‘return to normal’.

The Gerald Aylmer Seminar is an annual one-day symposium jointly convened by and the Royal Historical SocietyThe National Archives and the Institute of Historical Research. The Seminar brings together historians and archivists to discuss topics of mutual interest, particularly the nature of archival research and the use of collections.


Getting Published: a guide to first articles and journal publishing

RHS online workshop for Early Career Historians, 21 July 2021



The first in a new RHS series of training workshops. The focus of this event was publishing a first article: with advice from journal editors and recently published authors.