SHS Annual Conference 2021


We are holding our annual conference online. It will take place over two weeks from 28 June-9 July, following the successful model that we used in 2020.

The Social History Society has an long record of transforming historical research and our conference is one of the largest in the UK. For 43 years, it was held in person, with papers that explored the ways in which social worlds are made, imagined, shared and shattered. In 2020, our own world was transformed by COVID-19 and the conference shifted online.

Instead of trying to replicate a physical event online, we have adapted to our new world by spreading events over a longer time-frame and opening up cutting-edge research to as wide an audience as possible.

The conference remains centred on our eight thematic strands, ranging across time and space. The programme will allow speakers and audience to move between these without missing any of the papers. To maintain our community of research in a remote setting, it will also emphasise discussion, with 15 minute papers to avoid Zoom fatigue!

The conference will be open to members and non-members alike, but do take a look at the benefits of membership page.

Conference Plenary: Women and Work

In March 2021, the Office for National Statistics highlighted important differences in men and women’s experiences of life in lockdown.

While more men than women have died from COVID-19 in the UK, women’s wellbeing has been more negatively affected. During the first year of the pandemic, women reported higher levels of anxiety and loneliness than men, were more likely to have been furloughed, took on more unpaid domestic duties and took a significantly greater share of responsibility for childcare and homeschooling.

Our annual conference will place these findings in their historical context with a specially convened plenary on Women and Work. The panel will span the early modern and modern periods, featuring three leading scholars:

Emma Griffin is Professor of Modern British History at the University of East Anglia.  She is the author of five books, most recently Bread Winner: an Intimate History of the Victorian Economy (2020).  She is the co-editor of the journal History and President of the Royal Historical Society.

Helen McCarthy is Reader in Modern and Contemporary British History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St John’s College. She is the author of three books, including Women of the World: The Rise of the Female Diplomat (2014) and Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood (2020). She is currently developing a new project on the socialist intellectual and writer, Beatrice Webb, and her biographer, Margaret Cole.

Jane Whittle is professor of Economic and Social History at Exeter University. She is author of numerous books and articles including most recently, Consumption and Gender in the Early Seventeenth-Century Household (2012), ‘A Critique of Approaches to “Domestic Work”’ Past and Present 243 (2019), and ‘The Gender Division of Labour in Early Modern England’ Economic History Review 73:1 (2020). She currently holds a European Research Council Advanced grant to study ‘Forms of Labour: Gender, Freedom and Experience of Work in the Preindustrial Economy’.

Call for Papers

The programme will contain new speakers alongside those who were due to attend our cancelled 2020 conference.  We have issued a targeted call for papers for two strands where there are currently a limited number of spaces available in the programme: ‘Diversity, Minorities and Others’ and ‘Environment, Spaces and Places’.

Click here for details.

The conference will also include prize-giving ceremonies for the SHS Book Prize, the Pam Cox prize for Public History, and our Postgraduate Prize.

Our 2021 conference builds on the online events we held in 2020. Recordings of last year’s events are available here.

More details will be released soon.

Conference News