Session 1 | People’s health histories and public policy

Can history help us analyse past medical crises and shape public health policy? What can history collections reveal about these histories? This session explored the history of vaccinations and health crises and how understanding this can help to navigate and deal with modern medical crises. We explored how library, archive and museum collections capture and document the effects and public experiences of health policy. 

The session was chaired by Professor Philip Murphy, Director of History and Policy at the Institute of Historical Research.  It consisted of a series of lightning talks followed by a discussion, highlighting how the work of historians and collections professionals contributes to our understanding of these histories. 


Session 2 | Everyday Technology Firsts

How has new technology transformed the lives of ordinary people through history? 

When did you first get a telephone – or a cordless phone, or a mobile? What labour-saving appliance was a game-changer for you or your family? Do you remember your first email? Whether you were an early adopter or a late-starter, join the conversation and share your memories, pictures and stories on our special Padlet or on Twitter, using hashtag #TechFirsts

The session was chaired by Professor Catherine Clarke, Director of the Centre for the History of People, Place and Community, at the Institute of Historical Research.


This event was part of the Being Human festival, the UK’s national festival of the humanities, which tookplace 10–19 November 2022. For further information please see

Find out more at the History Collections website. More information about the contributions from other organisations are listed on the programme. 

History Day is a free annual one-day event that is created collaboratively between the Institute of Historical Research and Senate House Library.