On Friday 15 July the Institute of Historical Research (IHR) brought its centenary year to a close with a celebration of History: Past, Present and Future. Historians of all kinds came together - to talk, showcase their research, and also address critical issues in the discipline today.
During the afternoon, Macmillan Hall was filled with community groups and projects – as well as a zine-making workshop. Philip Murphy’s walking tours of Senate House as a film venue proved particularly popular, as did the hourly tours of the Wohl library. Within the IHR itself there was an exhibition, an Early Career Researcher take-over of the common room, and the opportunity to record personal memories for the IHR Stories project. Down in the basement Wolfson Suite, a panel of speakers addressed the role of the IHR within the discipline as a whole.
In the evening, a packed Beveridge Hall participated in a lively discussion on the future of history, led by a panel of speakers from across the history community, including those writing historical fiction and for television. There was much to discuss because there is much at stake. Some of the most pressing questions were around identity, access and practice: who gets to do historical research, how is it done, and where does it happen? As Olivette Otele put it: ‘You can’t be what you can’t see’. And there was also discussion of many other topics: the role of technology and the challenges of working with digital; the status of history as both a force for public good and as a popular leisure activity; the vital importance of language-learning and of history in schools; the need to both make connections and act as connectors; the importance of stories; and, above all, the need to be brave in advancing the case for history and the humanities more broadly.
The centenary was brought to a close with a reception, which included a birthday cake and IHR-themed cocktails.
We would particularly like to thank our colleagues in catering, estates and events for their outstanding support throughout the event, and to thank all our SAS and University of London colleagues who have worked with us on our centenary activities over the past year.