Our mission

As the national centre for history, the Institute of Historical Research’s mission is to:

  • enable and nurture the current and next generation of historians, wherever they are to be found;
     
  • support the historical community through the care and development of our important library and archive collections, our publications and our digital resources;
     
  • facilitate and produce ambitious and innovative historical research;
     
  • connect, listen to and advocate for historians, mobilising our unique national intellectual and professional network;
     
  • engage and include scholars and the public in historical research in all its diversity and richness.

Our mission, strategy and how we work is driven by a core set of values

Integrity: in our research, the way we work, and the way we deal with others. We will act in an open and transparent way. 

Inclusivity: we are the physical and online home of the discipline in all its forms. We will provide a welcoming environment for all historians, promote the many voices of the discipline, and embed inclusion in all aspects of the Institute’s work.

We will leverage our skills, tools and resources to support marginalised individuals, groups and histories.  We will continue to provide a range of digital resources and outlets without charge, ensure that subscription-based materials are competitively priced, and seek to extend the remit of Open Access publishing for long-form content.
 

Collaboration: we value interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary working, and we are open-minded about different scholarly approaches. We believe that disciplinary strength is derived from listening to and respecting one another and by acknowledging different ways of knowing.  
 

Curiosity: we are ambitious for ourselves and for the profession. We prioritise research into difficult and challenging problems, and we set about tackling them in an open-minded way that is inclusive of different thoughts and ideas.

We value innovative and risky research that demands intellectual courage. We believe that intellectual curiosity, and the research it encourages, makes a powerful contribution to knowledge and to society.  
 

Care: we value all who work at the Institute and all who work with us, and we are alert to the precarity of the profession. We will support and assist those on precarious contracts, insist that our internship opportunities are paid or offered for academic credit, and we will prioritise permanent positions. We will ensure a living wage and equality for all staff within the IHR.

We will embed well-being programmes in our ways of working and strive for a positive work-life balance. Staff will benefit from tailored career development opportunities and mentoring. We will not tolerate disrespectful or aggressive behaviours. 
 

Equality: for all, in all that we do, respecting diversity and providing equal service regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or age.
 

Our vision

Our future strategy has five key aims:

  1. To generate, facilitate and co-produce innovative and transformative historical research;

  2. To act as a neutral facilitator of research relationships;

  3. To nurture, train, develop and represent successive generations of historians;

  4. To serve the national and international disciplinary community;

  5. To exploit our central London location to provide excellent facilities for research and study. 

 

Then and now

The Institute of Historical Research as constructed in 1921, a national 'history lab'.

Today

The IHR is situated in the North Block of Senate House, on the very site where its previous building was located.

Our vision (1)

To generate, facilitate and co-produce innovative and transformative historical research;

Our vision (2)

To act as a neutral facilitator of research relationships;

Our vision (3)

To nurture, train, develop and represent successive generations of historians;

Our vision (4)

To serve the national and international disciplinary community;

Our vision (5)

To exploit our central London location to provide excellent facilities for research and study.

The Institute until now

Founded in 1921, the Institute of Historical Research was initially conceived as a postgraduate school of Historical Research, dedicated to training the next generation of historians. It was to be home to experimental, ambitious and innovative research that would shape the discipline and open new ways of thinking. It had a mission to house primary records of the discipline, to publish high-quality outputs, and to disseminate historical knowledge in the public realm. In short, it was a neutral intellectual home, an advanced ‘history lab’, and an advocate for historians wherever they were to be found.

It is to its original purpose that the IHR should return, reinventing the substance of its mission for the 21st century. The unique combination of this mission, situated in an interdisciplinary space as part of the School of Advanced Study and owned by the discipline, with local expertise, a network of cross-sector partnerships, and a track-record in shaping historical studies over the past century, makes the IHR incomparable in the disciplinary research environment.

The need for an Institute

The IHR was founded in the 1920s to address the limited opportunities for historical research in the UK. It was then by design a unique and distinctive organisation for the good of the profession. Today’s academic landscape is very different to that of the 1920s. However, the need remains for a special and singular institution to integrate our now much richer, diverse and more complex historical research culture. This is the purpose of the IHR as it enters the 2020s.