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Our mission

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

  • champion the value and importance of history;  

  • 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 networks;
     
  • 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. 

 

Our Strategy, 2020-2025

Read about our strategy and key priorities as we move into the IHR's second century as the UK's national home for history.

Learn more

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

The Institute of Historical Research was founded in 1921 to address the limited opportunities for historical research and training in the UK. Born in the aftermath of the First World War, just a few years after the right to vote was first extended to women with property over 30, the Institute was designed to be a unique and distinctive organisation that worked for the good of the profession, transforming the study of the past into a powerful tool to inform policy. The IHR was historically significant in its aim to place the UK historical profession in a global context, bringing international scholars together in a variety of fora. It was designed to provide historically-informed research to Government, to serve as a repository of bibliographic information, to be a testing ground for new historical ideas and methods, and to be a meeting place for historians of all nationalities.  

Today’s academic landscape is very different from that of the 1920s. However, there is still an urgent need for a special and singular institution to integrate our now much richer, diverse and more complex historical research culture and to provide historically-informed thought-leadership within and beyond the academy and within an international environment.

Why we matter

There is an glaring need for historically-literate discussion and intervention on the most pressing challenges of our time: from the human implications of Artificial Intelligence to health and well-being, from the impact of mass migration and climate change, from poverty to globalisation, from political and economic instability to human rights and the survival of liberal democracy. Historians speak to all these issues, helping to explain human behaviour, and identifying and understanding the significance of long-term trends and patterns. History underpins our cultures and informs our identities. Historians have a duty not only to shed light on how those identities have taken shape but to call to account those who misuse the past in pursuit of political or other ideological ends.  

The skills the discipline embeds are urgently needed in societal, cultural and economic terms:  critical thinking, creativity, human understanding, empathy, clear expression, and the ability to interrogate an argument and hold it to the highest evidential standards.  

In order to meet these critical needs, we require well-trained, engaged historians and historical professionals, drawn from across our wide community of researchers.  The IHR brokers relationships among the best-placed experts, wherever they are to be found, in order to create research partnerships that will meet societal challenges, bringing together historians and those from other disciplines, those in our universities and beyond, in the UK and internationally. Collectively, we must devise meaningful research projects in key areas that promise disciplinary and interdisciplinary innovation and open new ways of thinking in order to engage with issues facing our society and to enrich our culture. 

For all these reasons, we must advocate for the continuing value and importance of history as a discipline.