The People’s History of the NHS website is the public-facing side of the major project I work on at Warwick University, funded by the Wellcome Trust, on the Cultural History of the NHS. Headed up by Professors Roberta Bivins and Mathew Thomson with five postdoctoral researchers, we’re looking at the special place the NHS has within British society and culture. We’re examining the ways the NHS has been represented over it’s seven-decade history and asking what it means.
The University of Warwick’s Centre for the History of Medicine was my happy home for a while. The Centre has been the site of some outstanding research exploring the history of medical ideas, practices and institutions in their social and cultural context since it was set up in 1999. This has included the works of David Arnold, Angela Davis, David Hardiman, Sarah Hodges, Colin Jones, Vicky Long, Hilary Marland, Claudia Stein and many more.
The Social History Society was established in 1976 by, amongst others, Professor Harold Perkin at Lancaster University. For four decades it has served to promote the historical study of societies and cultures, not least through its annual conference. In 2004 the Society’s journal, Cultural and Social History, was launched – the name reflecting the changes to the discipline since its foundation. In 2015 the members were kind enough to elect me as Communications Officer for the next three years, although I think being unopposed helped!
The Voluntary Action History Society was established by Colin Rochester, Nicholas Deakin, Justin Davis Smith, Rodney Hedley and others in 1991. It aims to advance the historical understanding and analysis of voluntary action – broadly defined to include charity, campaigning and civil society – and to that end it brings together historians and voluntary sector scholars and practitioners for regular London seminars, a biennial international research conference and occasional symposiums.
The Campaign for Voluntary Sector Archives first met in October 2011 and then had an official launch at the House of Lords in October 2012. It works to raise awareness of the importance of voluntary sector archives as strategic assets for governance, corporate identity, accountability and research. Archives are also important as part of the sector’s wider public benefit responsibility. The Campaign encourages all charities, voluntary organisations, trusts and foundations to take responsibility for their archives by providing for their management, preservation, use and promotion.
The History & Policy collaborative project is run jointly by the University of Cambrige and King’s College London, with Dr Lucy Delap as its Director. It is an international network of around 400 historians who believe study of the past can offer important lessons for the twenty-first century. History & Policy works for better public policy through an understanding of history by connecting historians, policy makers and the media. Their website hosts a range of resources for historians; such as their policy makers and journalists, including policy papers and opinion pieces, including my own from February 2012.
The Economic History Society was founded in 1926 and exists to promote the study of economic and social history and to establish closer relations between students and teachers of economic and social history. As well as holding an annual conference and publishing the Economic History Review, they have been a generous provider of small grants to me. These have typically funded conference prizes for or events aimed at supporting postgraduate researchers. Their website is home for information on their activities and podcasts of lectures and interviews, as well as hosting a bulletin board for external events.
The Wellcome Trust is the first port of call for most researchers working on the history of medicine. Their funding for Medical History (now under the banner of ‘Medical Humanities’) has been behind much of the growth the subject has seen in recent decades. The Wellcome Library is not only a wonderful space to work, but makes a lot of fascinating material available online. Keep an eye on the Wellcome Library blog to find out more. I’d also recommend the historical collection on Wellcome Images, with every image free to reuse.