Public History Festivals

The RSHC runs regular Public History Festivals .  We work with a network of heritage and archive organizations, which we convene. The History and Heritage Adult Learning London Network (HHALL) works together to deliver engaging public history events around a particular theme.

Past Public History Festivals have included:

AIDS Cultures and Histories (2018)


The Festival took place across London throughout July 2018, and was open to all. Many events were also free to attend.

It aimed to explore how HIV/AIDS has been experienced, represented, and remembered. Events include workshops, film screenings, party nights, music, talks, and performance.

You can see the events we ran by downloading the events calendar: aids-festival-calendar

The festival was convened by the Raphael Samuel History Centre, with *Bridges events curated by Ash Kotak at Aesthesia. The RSHC is an outreach and research centre supported by Birkbeck and Queen Mary, University of London, dedicated to exploring public, interdisciplinary, and experimental history across periods and regions. Named after the historian Raphael Samuel, the Centre also maintains an interest in London history and history from below.

The Festival also relied upon many partners across heritage, academic, and charitable sector organisations.


London At War: A History Festival (2014)


Untitled pictureWith walks, workshops, lectures and talks, this special events series explored some of the unexpected dimensions of the city during the two world wars. The series took place across May 2014 and was convened by the Raphael Samuel History Centre and some of the museums, archives and galleries which make up its History and Heritage Adult Learning Network (HHALL).

Events included a keynote lecture from renowned public history author Professor Jerry White, a tour of the National Maritime Museum, a talk on Sex in the Wartime City,  and one about animals and humans on the London Home Front 1939–1945.


Games Week: A Celebration of Games in History (2012)


History and Heritage Adult Learning London network, convened by the Raphael Samuel History Centre, held a week-long celebration of games in History from 7-15 July 2012, with events at leading museums and archives across London.

Whether discovering children’s forgotten street games, finding out about stadium architecture, or learning about Nazi board games, there was something for every age and interest.

New for 2012 were  our follow on events: from August 2012 to July 2013 there were monthly ‘behind the scenes’ tours and events at each of the venues giving people the chance to understand more about how some of London’s top archives and museums  worked, and to see things not normally on display.

A Celebration of Food in History (2011)

The History and Heritage Adult Learning Network, convened by the Raphael Samuel History Centre held a week-long celebration of Food in History from 14-20 May 2011, with events at leading museums and archives across London.

From learning about the eating habits of the famous to sampling foods from around the world, the week offered something for every age, and culinary taste.

Past Caring: A Celebration of Love in History (2010)

past_caring logo .jpgThe Raphael Samuel History Centre, (a partnership between Birkbeck, Bishopsgate Institute and the University of East London) was awarded a £27,000 grant to host ‘’Past Caring: A Celebration of Love in History’. This week long festival of events, timed to coincide with Valentine’s Day 2010, brought together a diverse group of 11 heritage, history, and HE partners to deliver a series of walks, workshops, talks, and exhibitions.

Birkbeck’s Dr Matt Cook, co-director of the Raphael Samuel History Centre said: “From walks exploring Bloomsbury’s romantic past to workshops on Valentine cards and love letters of old, this festival will take place in some of London’s leading museums, archives and historic houses. The primary aim is to encourage new and existing audiences and to engage in our past in imaginative ways.”

Partners involved include the National Maritime Museum, London Transport Museum, Weiner Library, Freud Museum and the London Metropolitan Archive. Matt added: “This project will also promote awareness of the innovative adult learning work undertaken at each institution, and give participants the opportunity to find out how to progress into more formal learning. We intend this project to be the beginning of a long partnership with further history festivals on different themes and other collaborative events.”

The grant was one of 213 awarded from the £20 million Transformation Fund, launched by the Government to offer funding for innovative informal adult learning projects in England. More than1400 applications for funding were received.