Public History Prize Winner 2023

The Social History Society’s Public History Prize recognises activities that enhance public understanding of social and cultural history. It was established in 2020 to thank our outgoing chair, Professor Pamela Cox, for her tireless efforts to open dialogue between the society and different audiences.

The prize is awarded to a postgraduate student or early career researcher who can demonstrate excellence in taking their research beyond the academy.

The winner of the 2023 prize is Alice Naylor for the project ‘Putting on a Show with the Kenwood Chef’.

Alice is an AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership student with the University of Portsmouth and the Science Museum Group.  She is in the third year of her PhD, ‘Eye Appeal is Buy Appeal:  the design, mediation, and consumption of Kenwood kitchen appliances from 1947-1985′.

Alice’s submission was based on two public events organised following the chance discovery of a script for Kenwood demonstrators in the company archive. The script inspired Alice to put on her own demonstrations to bring to life the history of domestic technology in post war Britain. Working with drama students from the University of Portsmouth, Alice secured funding from the Being Human Festival and the Design History Society and even enlisted the help of an ex-Kenwood demonstrator!

The judges called this ‘a wonderful example of public history led by a chance archival encounter’ and were impressed by the initiative and enthusiasm Alice showed to make the events a success. They also commended the project for its focus on the social and cultural importance of everyday practices, saying: ‘It has clearly enhanced public understanding of what history can be and encouraged people to reflect on their own consumer lives’.

Alice told us:

I am thrilled and delighted to receive the Pamela Cox Social History Society Public History Prize. I gained a great deal by creating this public event: it was instructive and engaging and demonstrated the value of science, technology and humanities research and exploring how cross-cultural collaborations can contribute knowledge that engages with the wider community. I had fantastic support from the Spring Arts & Heritage Centre in Havant, the Science Museum, the University of Portsmouth including the amazing drama students and my supervisors. Thanks too for the ‘Small Awards’ funding grant from the Being Human Festival of Humanities 2022, the Design History Society Outreach and Events Grant 2022 and the Science Museum’s Research and Public History department.

This year’s prize also saw a special commendation given to Hannah Dennett for the project ‘Tiny Traces: African and Asian Children at London’s Foundling Hospital’.

The society would like to thank all of the entrants and will publish blogs about the projects over the coming months.