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History Faculty Newsletter January 2020

Our winter newsletter showcases some of the cutting-edge research conducted within the History Faculty, as well as some of the people, new and old, who make up our community of Cambridge historians.

Chair's letter– Alex Walsham

Alex Walsham

Early December in Cambridge is admissions season. After a busy term, colleagues across the Faculty are ensconced in their colleges interviewing candidates keen to begin their undergraduate studies here in October 2020. The air is filled with anxiety, but also hope and anticipation. The current cohort of students has largely departed home for the vacation and the Seeley Library and Stirling Building are relatively quiet. From my office high up on the fifth floor, I have a commanding view across the Sidgwick Site and towards the central tower of the UL. But, as I reach the end of my first term in the Chair, I am very well aware that I still have only a partial picture of the immensely complex organism that is the Faculty itself. There remains much to learn.
Thanks to my predecessors Larry Klein and Tim Harper, the Faculty is in a fine state of health. We retain our spot at the top of the league table of UK History departments. Our MPhil programmes are flourishing and we continue to attract outstanding doctoral students from around the world.

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Still Rising... Women at Cambridge

Ben Griffin and Lucy Delap

150 years ago Cambridge saw the establishment of the first of its college for women, with Girton rapidly followed by Newnham two years later.

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Everyday Travel in Early Modern England

Charmian Mansell

In 1557, Juliana Burges, a married woman of Tavistock in Devon, travelled two miles to the parish of Whitchurch where she had previously worked as a servant to visit a sick child of a former neighbour.

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The Hidden Affliction

A riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.

'Winston Churchill's celebrated phrase seemed to me most apt in describing the intellectual task that I and a number of colleagues set ourselves in trying to study the impact of the pre-HIV sexually transmitted diseases on infertility in history', writes Simon Szreter.

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Alumni Perspectives


Hugh Purcell (Selwyn 1961) 

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Val Martin (Girton 1970)

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Rosie Hamilton (Newnham 2013)

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 Fraser Cameron (Corpus, 1973)

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Introducing... Celia Donert

'I am an historian of contemporary Europe, with particular research interests in East Central Europe, global socialism, nationalism, gender and the history of human rights', writes Celia Donert, University Lecturer in 20th century Central European History, who joined the Faculty in October.

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Hope for change? Young people and political action

When Beth Bhargava (King’s 2016) explored 'pupil power' for her Part II dissertation, she was able to re-evaluate contemporary school-student led protest in the context of 20th century action.

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