What we do

The IHR champions the value and importance of history in public life and as an academic discipline. We offer training and support to the current and next generation of historians. We provide the intellectual infrastructure for historians, through ambitious collaborative research initiatives, seminar series and events, digital resources, and a 200,000 volume specialist library.

Most importantly, we act as a hub for innovation in the discipline and in interdisciplinary ways of thinking. We connect scholars, communities, policy-makers, artists, archives, libraries, museums and industry to create new forms of knowledge that speak to contemporary concerns and intellectual challenges.

We are driven by a core set of values that are central to the way we work as an organisation, how we work with others, and what we wish for the discipline as a whole. These are: curiosity, integrity, inclusivity, collaboration, care and equality.

Download our Strategy Report, 2020-2025

IHR Strategy Report 2020 PDF 3.57 MB

Our future

"As the IHR begins its second century, there is an urgent need to give historians, wherever they are to be found, a home for innovation and free-thinking. The Institute is this home. It must reflect that the strength of the discipline is to be found in its diversity."

- Professor Jo Fox, Director of the IHR and Professor of Modern History at the University of London

Our strategic priorities, 2020-2025

Digital history

We have been a leading innovator in digital history since its early inception. The IHR is also an established champion of technology’s value in generating and promoting new historical research. We are well-placed to build on that tradition, repurposing it for the 2020s. In today’s IHR, digital is central to everything we do, and to how we frame and approach the past. The digital age presents new challenges as to how we record and preserve our past: what will be the historical evidence of the future? What should we archive and how? What new skills will historians, librarians and archivists need to analyse and store our archival trace?

Our specialist teams will surface the transformative effects of new technologies on disciplinary practice, drawing on their capabilities in developing widely used online research tools, such as the Bibliography of British and Irish History and British History Online, and mapping the effects of digital technologies onto historical method. Their work will represent a way of thinking that cuts across all aspects of the Institute’s research and that of the wider historical community.

Centre for the History of People, Place and Community

The IHR’s newly created Centre for the History of People, Place and Community positions local and urban histories in a global context. The Centre will make a distinctive contribution to community engagement, by demonstrating how organic research has profound implications for the future of the discipline and for the creation of the ‘archive’ in the 2020s, as well as co-producing engaging content for wider public audiences.

The Centre is home to the Victoria County History (VCH), a 120-year-old research project that combines the highest quality research and publishing with new technologies: in 2020, the VCH launched its rst smartphone app which enables users to access local histories of England from anywhere in the country.

The Centre is also home to the cutting-edge Heritage Lottery Funded project, Layers of London. A digital mapping project, Layers of London creatively engages communities in charting the capital’s rich, diverse history, and regularly features as a model example of engagement- focused research.

Inclusive histories

The Institute’s new focus on inclusive histories provides a welcoming intellectual space for the further development of marginalised or ‘silenced’ histories. In this way, we seek to transform what we understand a ‘historian’ to be, working to ensure that our community of historians is rich in its diversity. Providing a home where the voices of under-represented groups across the discipline may be heard is of critical importance. The IHR will work closely with disciplinary partners at the Royal Historical Society and Historical Association to advance critical work on gender equality, BME representation and advancement, LGBTQ+ inclusion, and the rights of scholars and students with disabilities.

The IHR’s concern is not only with ensuring greater representation and diversity within the profession, but also ensuring that ‘silenced’ voices and marginalised histories are included in our renderings of history in schools, in research agendas and public engagement. We are currently working with the Runnymede Trust and the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre on initiatives to ‘decolonise’ the history curriculum, and to address an attainment gap between BME and white scholars in the historical profession.

Public initiatives

History is ever-present in our lives, and there remains extraordinary public interest in the discipline. Whether through cultural expression, in the arts and creative industries, or through expert advice to policy makers, historians have never been more important to public life. The IHR will specialise in creative and innovative events to excite the public’s interest in the past and to provoke discussion and provide historical advice on issues of national and global importance.

Instances of recent and regular initiatives include public debates, historically themed performances and concerts, family history workshops, wikithons, and the launch of the IHR’s podcast and blog series. The past matters to all of us. The Institute will work hard to provide public access to events and activities informed by the latest research, and to offer services to policy-makers seeking to benefit from informed and new thinking in order to confront societal challenges. Our public initiatives and events take place both at the IHR’s home in London and nationally and internationally through institutional partnerships – bringing the Institute’s work to new audiences, across the UK and overseas.

Training and support

For a century and more, the Institute has provided historians with training and guidance in research methods and skills. In doing so, we have developed an expertise in providing state-of-the-art, relevant and professionally targeted training. We focus on research practices
at a discipline level that are often lost between teaching and personal research, and we assist researchers in translating those skills and methods into interdisciplinary and non-academic environments. We will be updating our training programmes to meet the needs of researchers in the 2020s. We do so with con dence: the IHR has a breadth and depth of experience in training that is unsurpassed in the UK.

We have a track-record in supporting postgraduates across the UK, regardless of affiliation, with doctoral and post-doctoral training opportunities. In addition, the IHR’s established fellowships programme supports and nurtures some of our most talented early career historians at a key stage in their professional and intellectual development.

Our library collections and spaces

Our library, designed specifically to facilitate original research, and our spaces, designed for study, events, seminars, and conversations, occupy a central London location at the heart of Bloomsbury’s knowledge quarter. We are open to all and free to access.

The majority of our library collections can be consulted immediately within our reading rooms, and represent one of the world’s greatest concentrations of published primary materials, journals, archival guides and supporting historical reference works in British, European and American history. Research is also supported by a staff of expert librarians and extensive digital resources. The library and archives will extend its support for history librarians across the UK, continue to open up and diversify its collections and underpin the IHR’s developing research and training programme.

Publishing and scholarly communications

The IHR is well known as a high-quality history publisher with responsibility for a range of titles: from our academic journal Historical Research to dedicated series for edited collections and scholarly monographs. The IHR website, now redesigned and relaunched, serves the discipline as an accessible source of information for historians worldwide.

The early 2020s will see important initiatives in IHR publishing. These include an open access book series for early career researchers; experimentation in publishing formats; closer integration of print and digital publishing technologies; innovations in online communication and information sharing; and a close partnership with the new University of London Press.

The coming years will also bring challenges to established forms of publishing. Working with others, the IHR will serve as a neutral arena for debates in history publishing, and play a leading role in promoting sustainable publishing models, of value to historians as authors and readers.

The IHR in numbers

  • 12.5M : page views of IHR digital resources
  • 615,000 : records of books, articles and chapters in BBIH
  • 200,000 : primary sources in the Wohl Library
  • 120 : years of the Victoria County History
  • 75 : research seminar series run from the IHR
  • 21 : junior research fellows based at the IHR (2019-20)

What historians say about the IHR

Responses from the #myIHR survey, summer 2019

  • 'The IHR is the centre of historical research in the UK.'

  • 'The Institute provides leadership in the discipline'. 

  • 'IHR digital resources keep me up-to-date with new thinking and publications in my field'.

  • 'The Library! It has unparalleled research content and is a great place to work.' 

  • 'The Institute hosts an amazing range of seminars, with the highest quality speakers.'

  • 'It's the best place to meet historians of all kinds from around the country, and overseas.'

  • 'The people I've met at the IHR have remained colleagues throughout my life.'

  • 'The Institute's open and available to all, at every career stage, and also vitally to researchers without an affiliation.'

Mission statement

Read more about the IHR's values and mission, which will guide our work over the next five years.

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