Lancaster University

29th June, 2020 – 1st July, 2020

The Social History Society has cancelled its 2020 conference due to the outbreak of COVID-19. Please see here for full details. We are holding a series of online events to maintain our community of scholarship at this difficult time.


The Social History Society’s annual conference is the largest gathering of social and cultural historians in the UK. For more than four decades, our members have transformed historical research, exploring the many ways in which our social worlds are made, imagined, shared and shattered. We are delighted to be returning to Lancaster University, which was the intellectual home of many of the society’s founding members, between 29 June and 1 July 2020.

Lancaster University Library by Sheppard Robson

The conference is an opportunity to share the results of research with members old and new. The programme is organised by eight thematic strands, ranging across time and space, from the (pre)medieval to the present. We have made a number of changes to the strands for 2020, including the introduction of new strands on ‘Bodies and Emotions’ and ‘Work, Leisure and Consumption’. The full details of each strand are available here.

Download the Provisional Programme (pdf)

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Our keynote speaker, Professor Martha A. Sandweiss

Our keynote lecture will be given by Professor Martha A. Sandweiss (Princeton University), who will be speaking about ‘Seeing the Past: History, Photography and the American West’.

Martha (‘Marni’) Sandweiss began her professional career as a photography curator and museum director, and taught at Amherst College for 20 years before joining the Princeton faculty in 2009. She has written widely on the history of the American West, the history of photography, and race in American life. Her prize-winning books include Print the Legend: Photography and the American West  (2002) and Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception across the Color Line (2009). She is currently the President of the West History Association, and is the founder and director of The Princeton & Slavery Project.


The conference will also include a plenary panel on ‘Public History in an era of Fake News’ featuring Dr David Coast (Bath Spa University), Kelly Foster (AfroCROWD UK) and Professor Jo Fox (Institute of Historical Research).

David Coast is a historian of early modern England, whose research focuses on the circulation and interpretation of news and rumour. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the author of News and Rumour in Jacobean England: Information, Court Politics and Diplomacy, 1618-25 (Manchester University Press, 2014).

Kelly Foster is an open knowledge advocate and public historian, working both online and “on road” as a London Blue Badge Guide. She is the chapter lead for Creative Commons UK and founding organiser of AfroCROWD UK, an initiative to encourage more people of African heritage to contribute to Wikipedia and its sister projects. Kelly has over 15 years of experience in the UK’s community archives sector and is a founding member of TRANSMISSION, a collective of archivists and historians of African descent.

Jo Fox is Director of the Institute of Historical Research and Professor of Modern History at the University of London. She is a specialist on the history of propaganda and psychological warfare, whose work explores the connections between propaganda and public opinion. Jo is also an active public historian, frequently contributing to television and radio broadcasts and working with museums and archives.


In addition to research papers, the conference will also include prize-giving ceremonies for the third SHS Book Prize, the inaugural Pam Cox prize for Public History, and our annual postgraduate paper and poster prizes. There will be additional opportunities to meet the editors of both our journal Cultural & Social History and our New Directions in Social and Cultural History book series with Bloomsbury.

Find out about past SHS conferences