Wednesday 30 June 2021

Prof Claire Langhamer

Professor Claire Langhamer, currently professor of modern British history at the University of Sussex, has been appointed as director of the UK’s national centre for history, the University of London’s (UoL) Institute of HistoricaI Research (IHR). 

Claire was awarded a degree in history from the University of Manchester in 1991, completed her PhD at the University of Central Lancashire in Preston in 1996, and started at Sussex University as a lecturer in 1998. 

She is a trustee of the Mass Observation Archive and her research examines the feelings and experiences of ‘ordinary’ people in 20th-century Britain.

Her books include Total War: an Emotional History, edited with Lucy Noakes and Claudia Siebrecht, Women in Fifties Britain edited with Penny Tinkler and Stephanie Spencer, and the monographs, The English in Love: The Intimate Story of an Emotional Revolution and Women’s Leisure in England, 1920–1960.

A co-authored book – Class of ’37: Voices from Working-Class Girlhood – with Hester Barron will be published in July 2021. The book focuses on the lives of one particular class of 12 and 13-year-old Bolton schoolgirls who wrote essays about their lives for Mass Observation in 1937. It is based both on the girls’ own writing and the memories of their descendants who Claire and Hester traced and interviewed.

Claire said: ‘What I love about Mass Observation is that it shows us that everyone’s voice matters and that people’s lives in the past were as complicated, messy and surprising as they are today. What was being thought about and said at the time is sometimes quite different from the myths that have grown up since. My ambition for the IHR as it enters its second century is for it be the engine that drives, connects and sustains genuinely democratic forms of history-making.

‘I would like it to be characterised by collaboration and co-production as well as curiosity. I would like it to be defined by its diversity – a diversity of people and voice, focus and method, and by its commitment to equality in all of its manifestations, and I would like it to be capable of working at scale – across national boundaries.' 

Dean and chief executive of the university’s School of Advanced Study, Professor Jo Fox, said: 'I am absolutely thrilled about Claire’s appointment to the directorship of the IHR. This is a critical appointment at a time when an informed understanding of history is more important than ever, and when history finds itself at the centre of national  and international debate.

‘I know that Claire will bring passion and dynamism this role, and she already has significant experience of leading important national initiatives. I am so excited that she is joining the school.’


Notes for editors

  1. For further information, please contact Maureen McTaggart /
  2. The Institute of Historical Research was founded in 1921 is dedicated to training the next generation of historians, and to producing and facilitating ambitious, innovative historical research. The Institute helps foster public understanding of history and its social, cultural, and economic importance, advocating for the long-term future of the discipline and supporting its growth and development. It offers a wide range of services both onsite and remotely which promote and facilitate excellence in historical research, teaching and scholarship in the UK, by means of its library, events programmes, fellowships, training and publications. It is a leading centre for the creation of digital resources for historians and promotes the study of the history of London through its Centre for the History of People, Place and Community.
  3. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled resources, facilities and academic opportunities across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. Last year SAS welcomed 996 research fellows and associates, held 1,500 events highlighting the latest research in the humanities, received 31.6 million online visits to its research resources and platforms, and hosted 100,119 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads Being Human, the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews
  4. The University of London is a federal University and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the University is recognised globally as a world leader in higher education. It consists of 17 independent member institutions of outstanding reputation, together with a number of prestigious central academic bodies and activities. Learn more about the University of London at