Negotiating #SocMedia4Hist: Seminar at the IHR

Things have been a little quiet around the blog recently as I’ve been focussing on my Modern Wife, Modern Life exhibition, which opens at the National Print Museum (Ireland) in July 2015 and examines the perceptions and representations of women in 1960s Ireland as seen through the pages of women’s magazines. Happily, my crowd-funding efforts proved successful and I reached my target of €2,500 on Fund:It (thank you to everyone who donated!). While family, friends and colleagues were kind enough to support me, much of the money, I’m confident, came through as a result of social media, which was used to raise awareness of the exhibition and fund-raising campaign.

While social media can have its draw-backs, I’ve long been convinced of its benefits for researchers. I’ve previously written here, for example, about how Dr Jennifer Evans and I used social media to generate our Perceptions of Pregnancy conference. So when I was asked to participate in a seminar at the IHR on social media for historians, I immediately said yes. If you’re in London on 3 December and free between 5.30 and 7.30 pm, join us at the Institute of Historical Research for this round table discussion.

Negotiating #SocMedia4Hist: Technologies, Tactics and Triumphs

The world of social media offers historians opportunities to find collaborators and colleagues, communicate and uncover new avenues of research, shape ideas and contribute to new, global communities of enquiry. But entering this world can  be a daunting prospect, particularly for PhD students and early-career academics. Building and maintaining a profile for your work, negotiating online relationships and protecting your academic ‘capital’ are just some of the challenges. When your work touches on ‘difficult’ pasts then ‘daunting’ can become ‘terrifying’ as new social media opportunities emerge and continue to evolve.  Historians increasingly rely on Facebook as a professional tool, contribute to Wikipedia, use WordPress and other systems to blog about their research, and engage on Twitter with other #twitterstorians. Others rely on image sites like Tumblr and Flickr to uncover and disseminate resources, while there is also a community of historians on Reddit. This session, jointly convened by the Public History and History of Sexuality seminars, tackles the question of how to navigate social media, making the most of the new spaces they open up while managing some of the risks and pitfalls.


The emphasis is on advice, discussion and developing skills. We will be running a hashtag #SocMedia4Hist on @IHRPublicHist, @IHR_Sexuality and @NotchesBlog throughout the seminar for questions and comments from those not able to attend in person.


The speakers all have first-hand experience of this tricky but important task of being a ‘historian in public’ using online media.

Justin Bengry is an Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck, University of London is a co-founder of the international, collaborative, open-access blog NOTCHES: (re)marks on the history of sexuality.

Claire Hayward is a PhD candidate at Kingston University, social media co-ordinator for Cultural Histories @ Kingston , a co-ordinator of History @ Kingston department blog and has her own blog on exploring public histories.

Ciara Meehan is lecturer in history at the University of Hertfordshire, a regular contributor to the Irish media and co-director of the international and interdisciplinary researchers’ network, Perceptions of Pregnancy.

Published by Dr Ciara Meehan

Reader in History at the University of Hertfordshire.

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