Book Prize Winners 2019

The Social History Society’s Book Prize recognises innovative scholarship in the fields of social and cultural history.

It is awarded by a panel of judges, who look for the best original work of historical research published in the preceding calendar year. The only stipulations are that the book must be written in English, by a scholar normally resident in the UK,  and must be at least the author’s second history book. This year’s prize recognises books published in 2017.


The winner of the 2019 Social History Society Book Prize is:

Hannah Barker, Family & Business during the Industrial Revolution (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017)

The book examines the often forgotten business and family lives of small tradesmen and women, who were at the heart of the economic and social transformation of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Focusing mainly on Liverpool and Manchester, it uses a combination of social, cultural and economic approaches to argue for the importance of trade enterprises, extending arguments about the centrality of gendered domestic roles within family businesses and the continuity of household-family relationships.

The book is based on thorough research of wills, court records, letters, and memoirs. It was described by the judges as ‘a rich and meticulous archival study, cogently and clearly written, with plenty of variety and interest’. Its treatment of the material history of housing was judged to be particularly interesting and original, with wonderful use of photographs and diagrams adding to the excellent argumentation and narrative.

Professors Pamela Cox, Patricia Thane, Phillipp Schofield, and Naomi Tadmor acted as judges. Professor Tadmor, who chaired the panel, said:

We are delighted to award this prize to Professor Hannah Barker, whose book revises accepted wisdom in various fields. Our panel were struck by Professor Barker’s ability to combine the economic sphere with the emotional and were compelled by her argument about the vibrancy of small family businesses. It is an excellent piece of social history.

Professor Hannah Barker said:

I’m thrilled to be awarded this prize. In common with many monographs, Family and Business During the Industrial Revolution was a long time in the making and, like the family businesses which the book describes, involved the input and hard work of more than one person. Thanks to AHRC funding, I was fortunate to be able to call on a team of research assistants who provided valuable help in the latter stages of the project including Nathan Booth, Stephen Connolly, Katherine Davies, Marci Freedman, and Lucinda Matthews-Jones. During the early research I was lucky to work with two postdoctoral research associates who did much of the heavy lifting in the archives and who also co-authored two of the book’s chapters with me: Jane Hamlett and Mina Ishizu.


The runner-up for the 2019 Social History Book Prize is:

Sabine Lee, Children Born of War in the Twentieth Century (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2017)

The book tackles a topic that has received very little attention from historians: ‘children born of war’ – the term referring to children fathered by foreign soldiers and born to local mothers during and after armed conflicts. It spans a number of twentieth century conflicts and draws on an impressive range of archival and library materials in three languages from the UK, Germany, France, the Netherlands, the US and Canada. Dealing with the law, psychology, international relations and much else, the book surveys what can be discovered about activities and experiences widely hidden from public discussion, emphasising the complexities and difficulties of analysing or generalizing about them. It also engages with cognate disciplines, particularly human rights and socio-legal history.

The committee judged this as a highly original study of sex, forced and consensual, in a variety of war situations, and its impacts on the women involved and children born in such circumstances. It described the book as well constructed and accessibly written, as well as impressive, treating its subject with both care and distance.