This year’s History Day – a free event produced by Senate House Library and the Institute of Historical Research – will be held on 17 November. History Day is for students, researchers and history enthusiasts alike to explore collections from libraries, museums, historical organisations and archives. Visitors to last year’s event described it as “invigorating, thought-provoking and engaging”, and “opening up a whole new world of collections, archives and libraries.”

This year’s theme will be ‘Human Discovery: Experiencing Science’. Organisations will come together to share collections on the history of science in its broadest sense, including the everyday experiences and impacts of science and technology on ordinary people. Throughout the day, organisations will share pre-made content in the form of galleries, webpages, videos and blogs. We will also have two live sessions.

The morning session, People’s health histories and public policy, will be chaired by Professor Philip Murphy, Director of History and Policy. It will explore the history of vaccinations and health crises as documented in collections and look at how understanding this can help to navigate and deal with modern medical crises. Speakers will include Katie Birkwood, Rare Books librarian at the Royal College of Physiciansand Victoria Cranna from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Archives. 

The afternoon session on Everyday Technology Firsts will explore how new technologies have transformed the lives of ordinary people through history. In a series of lightning talks, opening out into a general discussion, speakers will share stories from collections and projects. The audience and other collections’ representatives will be invited to share memories, pictures and stories either live in the session, on our special Padlet, or on Twitter, using hashtag #TechFirsts. It promises to be a lively and enjoyable event. This session will be chaired by Professor Catherine Clarke, Director of the Centre for the History of People, Place and Community, at the Institute of Historical Research. 

Professor Clarke shared this family photo while planning the event, and says: 

“Whether we’re early-adopters or late-starters, we all have our own Everyday Technology Firsts stories to share – like this photo of my sister with our first home computer. I’m excited to learn from our guest archives and collections, including how Ladybird book illustrations charted changing norms and aspirations for everyday technology over the twentieth century.” 

Photo of a child with first home computer, a BBC Micro (c. 1984).

Speakers for this session are: 

– Dr Eve Colpus, Associate Professor at the University of Southampton and Principal Investigator on the Telephonic Youth project, ‘uncovering the untold recent history of children and young people’s telephone cultures in the UK’. 

– Helen Day, Curator of The Wonderful World of the Ladybird Artists. Helen has been researching and collecting Ladybird books for over 20 years. She has written about Ladybird books for national newspapers, Royal Mail, the BBC and made numerous radio and TV appearances. She also shares her fascination with Ladybird artwork and artists on popular social media accounts.

– Dr David Geiringer, Lecturer in Public History at Queen Mary University of London. Dr Geiringer is a social and cultural historian of modern Britain, with a particular interest in the histories of sexuality, religion, gender and emotions. His focus in this session will be on his work on the history of the home computer in the Mass Observation Project archive. 

– Louis Platman, Curator at the Museum of the Home. Louis curated many of the new galleries at the Museum, including Domestic Game Changers, which examines the profound and surprising ways technologies have changed our home life over the past 400 years. Louis is currently working on the creation of new period room displays at the Museum.


Sign up to join in with History Day 2022 at

Sign up to join in with History Day 2022 at