History Day 2020

History Day 2020

History Day 2020 took place on Thursday, 19 November. This page links to recordings and pre-made content from the event.


Discover collections

Libraries, museums, archives and history organisations from across the UK and beyond came together online to share collections and resources. Contributions can be explored via the Discover collections archive page. You can view recordings of the sessions below.

History in the Making: Archiving 2020 for the Future


The session brought together projects and organisations that began work to archive key events in 2020 such as the lockdown and Black Lives Matter. With five micro-presentations representing a variety of archiving projects, this session showcased a variety of responses to the events of 2020. 


  • Jason Webber (UK Web Archive/British Library, chair) 
  • Fiona Courage (Mass Observation)
  • Rhoda Boateng (Black Cultural Archives) 
  • Julia Alcamo (All We HaveStories from the pandemic) 
  • Brendan Cormier (V&A)
  • Will Massa (BFI)

The ‘micro-presentations’ from each of the contributors will be followed by a panel discussion and Q&A. Audience members will also be invited to contribute to an interactive segment to create their own “archive” of the year 2020.

Watch the recording

The John Rylands Library – Let’s Talk about Food: In Conversation on the New World


Be the first to watch a new film and take part in a live Q&A around the food adventures of European settler colonists in the Americas. Historian Dr Rachel Winchcombe (University of Leeds) and plant scientist Professor Amanda Bamford (University of Manchester) discuss how the same foods are now shaping debates about sustainability and environmental change. Filmed on location in the beautiful and historic surroundings of The John Rylands Research Institute and Library.


Archives Portal Europe


Marta Musso

This session presents the new interface of Archives Portal Europe, with new tools for research, including crowdsourcing work.

Watch the recording


Introducing the Archives Hub


Jane Stevenson, JISC

This webinar introduces the Archives Hub, a service for you to search across archive descriptions held at over 350 institutions across the UK.

Watch the recording



The National Archives – Live Twitter chat


The National Archives‘ records specialists will be tweeting about their areas of expertise and their favourite items in the collections. The public will have the opportunity to ask questions to specialists during this time. The National Archives’ Research team will also be tweeting about other resources, programmes and events that might be of interest to historians and students.

Follow the hashtag #HistDay20 and The National Archives’ Research Twitter handle @UkNatArcRes.


London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine – Decolonising the LSHTM Archives


In response to LSHTM’s decolonisation project and the Black Lives Matter movement, the archives have begun to re-examine the collections we hold, the stories we tell and the role we can play in critically engaging with the School’s colonial legacy. In this session, the LSHTM Archivist & Records Manager will give a brief outline of our Decolonising the Archives principles and action plan, and Dr Lioba Hirsch, Research Fellow on the Decolonising LSHTM: History and Legacy project will provide an overview of the project which aims to understand the consequences of LSHTM’s engagement with the British Empire for research, teaching and the institutional development of the School. There will be a short Q & A session.

Exploring History in the Digital World


This session brought together libraries, archives and history organisations to showcase their latest digital projects and discuss the impact of the closure of cultural institutions during lockdown. We explored the behind the scenes work to make collections available, the engagement of new audiences and how institutions are using the experience to work towards developing a sustainable future for digital history.   


  • Jane Winters (School of Advanced Study, chair)
  • Jonathan Blaney (IHR, British History Online)
  • Katherine Howells (The National Archives)
  • Maria Castrillo (Senate House Library)
  • Linda Arnold-Stratford (British Library)
  • Mia Ridge (British Library)

The session included ‘micro-presentations’ from each of the contributors followed by a panel discussion and Q&A. 

Watch the recording

Working Class Movement Library – Begin the World Over Again: radical thoughts & actions for radical times


Join a team of artists from Walk the Plank, members of the Library’s writing group and academic guests from the University of Salford as they introduce and discuss six podcasts about the Working Class Movement Library’s collection, parallels with our contemporary situation and what the future might look like. The podcasts will be available to listen to after the event.


Science Museum – Collecting Covid -19: the challenges of collecting objects, archives and ephemera during the pandemic


The Science Museum Group has been collecting objects, archival material and ephemera relating to the current pandemic since before the lockdown. In this session there will be with a virtual panel of staff from the Group, including the Keeper of Medicine and others, to discuss the challenges of creating such a collection at this difficult time, specifically the practicalities, ethical issues, emotional concerns, intellectual approaches to decide what to collect, political aspects, the role of social media, and the unforeseen benefits arising from coordination within the Group and with other organisations collecting similar material. The panel would then be able to answer participants’ questions.


Collection tours

Explore collections with this range of collection tours…


Guildhall Library


Guildhall Library is taking part in History Day 2020, a day of online interactive events for students, researchers & history enthusiasts to explore library, museum, archive and history collections across the UK & beyond.

Join us for an interactive talk where you will have the opportunity to find out more about our collections and resources.



The John Rylands Research Institute and Library – Tour and Q&A


Join us online for a live lockdown tour around the most popular spots in The John Rylands Library, University of Manchester. Meet virtually members of our Visitor Engagement Team who will share stories around the architecture and history of the library. Then catch up with Curators to find out more about resources and how to tailor your research around collections held here.

Catch up here


The Linnean Society of London


The Linnean Society of London is the world’s oldest learned society devoted to the biological sciences, and has in its care several internationally important collections, including those of the Swedish botanist, Carl Linnaeus, and the Society’s founder, Sir James Edward Smith. Designated a collection of outstanding importance by the Arts Council England in 2014, the holdings of the Linnean Society (which include library, archive and biological material) provide an unsurpassed resource for the study of natural history.

Join us on History Day for an introduction to select items from the collections, led by Will Beharrell (Librarian), and Liz McGow (Archivist), followed by a Q&A and discussion session with the wider Collections Team, including Isabelle Charmantier (Head of Collections) and Andrea Deneau (Digital Assets Manager).


LSE Library – Stats and more: Recently digitised economic history material London


Join Indy Bhullar, Curator for Economics and Social Policy, as he introduces some of LSE Library’s newly digitised Economic History collections. This includes full runs of some key statistical and official publications on a wide variety of topics, covering the 19th – 20th centuries and that can aide researchers of many hues. Titles in the collection include the Labour Gazette, The Annual Report of the Registrar General and plenty more.

Recording | Transcription


Jisc – Old world science, new world science: History Day 2020 collection tour

150 years of British history of science collections from UK universities


“What can we learn from “old world science” and how can this shape “new world science”? This session provided a tour of the “British Association for the Advancement of Science – Collections on the History of Science 1830s-1970s”, an interdisciplinary digital archive tracing the history of British science through the works, thoughts and interactions of the most influential scientists of the time. This digital archive is the fruit of an innovative cross-sector collaboration between Jisc, global publisher Wiley, and a number of UK university libraries and archives that have put forward their collections for inclusion, thus influencing what is being digitised by a commercial publisher. The session was led by representatives from Jisc and Wiley and discussed the benefits and challenges of such a large collaboration, the views from collection owners and early users, and takes you on a live tour through the variety of content, features and tools within the collection.

Watch the recording


Royal College of Nursing Library and Archives – A Virtual Tour of the RCN Archives


As part of the Institute of Historical Research and Senate House Library’s History Day 2020, the RCN Archives Team are excited to be hosting a one-off virtual tour of the collections in their care. The RCN Archives house over 150 years of Nursing history – representing everything from the daily lives of working nurses to the political campaigns that shaped the sector as a whole. At this event we’ll be introducing you to the treasures of the collection, including the letters of Florence Nightingale, and the service scrapbooks First World War military nurses.

There’s so much to explore, and we can’t wait to show you around!


Treasures from Bromley House Library


Discover the secrets of Nottingham’s hidden library! Founded in 1816 as Nottingham Subscription Library, the organisation moved 5 years later to Bromley House, where we are still based today. Join Anja Thompson-Rohde, the Librarian for Special Collections and Conservation, as she introduces this hidden gem and shows a few of the more unusual and beautiful books from our 200 years of collecting.

Watch the recording


King’s College London Archives & Special Collections


Welcome to King’s College London’s Archives & Special Collections! This informal session with staff from the Foyle Special Collections Library, the College Archives and Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, explored the huge range of material held in the collections – printed books, pamphlets and periodicals, maps and manuscripts, slides and photographs, objects and artefacts, and original documents dating from the 15th century to the present day.  It told researchers how to access the collections during the COVID-19 pandemic and the digital resources available online to support research, particularly in:

  • World history
  • Theology
  • Languages and literatures
  • History of science
  • Medicine and nursing
  • Military and defence studies
  • Travel and exploration
  • History of Modern Greece
  • Empire and Commonwealth
  • History of King’s College London and its merged institutions


LSE Library – A guided tour of LSE Library Archives


This 20 minute talk will introduce some of the main archives and special collections at LSE Library. These will include collections in the Women’s Library as well as the Hall-Carpenter archives, material relating to welfare and social security, Brexit, peace and internationalism, and more. We will also outline some of our digital holdings and explain how to find archives using our catalogue.

Recording | Transcription


New Approaches to Local and Community History: Show & Tell


Organised in conjunction with the Centre for the History of PeoplePlace and Community 

This session will showcase innovative new projects and creative approaches to documenting local and community history. Each contributor will highlight one object which represents some aspect of their local and community history work and practice. 


  • Catherine Clarke (IHR, Centre for the History of People, Place and Communitychair)
  • Gary Tuson (History Begins at Home) 
  • Aimee Baruwa (Young Historians Project)
  • Tom Hughes (Dumfries and Galloway Museum) 
  • Daniella Gonzalez and Claire Kennan (British Association for Local History)
  • Colin Hyde and Helen Foster (Sounds at the University of Leicester)

Following ‘micro-presentations’ from each contributor, we will invite session participants to share their own ‘Show and Tell’ object on screen or via the online chatThroughout History Day, we will also encourage followers on social media to do their own ‘Show & Tell’ to highlight the importance of documenting local and community history. 

Watch the recording

History of Parliament for Local Historians


The History of Parliament’s published volumes, blogs and digital resources offer a treasure trove of information for local historians. A video describing the constituency data included in our volumes and how this information can be used to research and tell local histories will be available to view throughout the day. We will host a live Q&A session with specialists from our range of time periods, explaining how the History of Parliament works for Local Historians.

Watch the video


Protests and Suffragettes virtual walking tour


Celebrating Rent Strikers and Scottish Suffragettes: Mary Barbour and other Strong Women of the Clydeside

Protests and Suffragettes is a creative project led by a team of artists, activists, & local historians working to recover & re-voice the histories of women activists in Glasgow UK. Join digitally for a virtual tour of Govan, Glasgow, UK as we highlight and celebrate the work of Mary Barbour and the women who made up her ‘army’. Learn about the 1915 Rent Strike Campaigners, Govan’s Suffragettes, and other important Clydeside activists – from their own words.

A ‘watch party’ will be held on Facebook with a Q&A in the chat afterwards.