Histories of the Self

Penny Summerfield is Emeritus Professor of Modern History at the University of Manchester and Honorary Vice-President of the Social History Society. Her work on the Second World War has been hugely influential both in relation to how oral histories are used and the wider historical scholarship around the formation of gender identities.

To coincide with the publication of her new book, ‘Histories of the Self: personal narratives and historical practice’ (published by Routledge on 12 July 2018), she’s been in conversation with the Social History Exchange editor about this new book and how it fits into her wider body of work. 

NHS 70: Before 1948

Dr George Campbell Gosling is Lecturer in History at the University of Wolverhampton, former Communications Officer for the Social History Society and general editor for the Social History Exchange. He is the author of Payment and Philanthropy in British Healthcare, 1918-48 (Manchester University Press, 2017) and articles including ‘Gender, Money and Professional Identity: Medical Social Work and the Coming of the British National Health Service’, Women’s History Review, vol. 27, no. 2 (2018), pp. 310-328.

In his contribution for the Research Exchange, at the time of the 70th anniversary of the NHS, he considers the political implications of researching and writing about the history of healthcare in Britain before the National Health Service.

Agatha Christie and Empire

Dr Christopher Prior is Associate Professor of Colonial and Postcolonial History at the University of Southampton. He is the author of ‘Exporting empire: Africa, colonial officials and the construction of the British imperial state, c.1900-39’ (Manchester University Press, 2013) and ‘Edwardian England and the idea of racial decline: an empire’s future’ (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

In his contribution for the Research Exchange, he reflects on how he came to be interested in empire in the novels of Agatha Christie, the subject of his recent article for the Social History Society’s journal. ‘An Empire Gone Bad: Agatha Christie, Anglocentrism and Decolonization’, Cultural & Social History (published online in January 2018).

The Six Myths of Social Mobility

Selina Todd is Professor of Modern History and Co-Director of Women in Humanities at Oxford University. Her book Young Women, Work and Family in England 1918-1950 won the Women’s History Network Book Prize. Her most recent book, The People: The Rise and Fall of the Working Class, 1910-2010, was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for Political History Book of the Year 2014.

On 5 April 2017, she delivered the keynote address to the Social History Society’s 2017 conference at the UCL Institute of Education. She challenge she set herself in this lecture was to debunk the six central myths of social mobility in postwar Britain.

Social History: Legacy and Prospects

In 2016, as the Social History Society celebrated its 40th birthday, the annual conference returned to the SHS’s spiritual home at the University of Lancaster. As part of the more-than-usually reflective proceedings, the outgoing Chair of the Society, Dr Karen Hunt, chaired a roundtable on the state of the discipline.

The plenary roundtable discussion on ‘Social History: Legacy and Prospects’, featured a panel of the University of Manchester’s Professor Penny Summerfield, Anglia Ruskin University’s Professor Rohan McWilliam and the University of Nottingham’s Dr Kate Donington.

Space, Community and Economy

On 21 March 2016, the keynote lecture at the Social History Society annual conference was given by Steve Hindle, W.M. Keck Foundation Director of Research at the Huntington Library in California. He is the author of The State and Social Change in Early Modern England (2000) and On the Parish? The Micro-Politics of Poor Relief in Rural England, c.1550-1750 (2004).

In his talk, entitled ‘Space, Community and Economy in Seventeenth Century Rural England’, he presented his the findings of his ongoing project ‘The Social Topography of a Rural Community’ and introduced us to the early modern inhabitants of the Warwickshire village of Chilvers Coton, from the Silkweavers in the Heath End to the Widows of the Bowed Lane Crossroads.

Rethinking Child Welfare and Emigration

In this post, Dr Ruth Lamont, Dr Eloise Moss and Dr Charlotte Wildman (University of Manchester) discuss the research underpinning their recent article for Cultural and Social History on ‘Child Welfare and Emigration in North West England, 1870-1930’.

SHS President on child poverty

As she took up her post as the Honorary President of the Social History Society, Professor Pat Thane launched a report presenting her latest research. 

Drawing on witness seminars charting the history of the Child Poverty Action Group, an in-depth study of CPAG’s archives, and interviews with key actors in the organisation across the decades, the authors have produced a rich and compelling account of CPAG’s ongoing battle to end child poverty over the past 50 years.

The research caught the attention of Polly Toynbee, who wrote about it in her Guardian column.