History and Archives in Practice (HAP2023)

We are delighted to announce the launch of History and Archives in Practice (HAP2023).

About HAP

HAP is the new and rebranded version of the Gerald Aylmer Seminar run in partnership with the Institute of Historical Research and the Royal Historical Society. The Gerald Aylmer Seminar has been hosted annually by these three institutions for nearly 20 years (2002 to 2021).

History and Archives in Practice is an opportunity for archivists and historians to meet to discuss collections and research practices. In this way, it mirrors the aims of the earlier Aylmer Seminar. However, from March 2023 History and Archives in Practice brings a new format and a greater focus on the collections that lie at the heart of our work.

As its name suggests, our new-look event will highlight research practices, and consider these in relation to distinctive collections. To launch History and Archives in Practice, the 2023 event will take place at the Institute of Historical Research in London. The theme will be ‘Collecting Communities: Working together and with collections’.

From 2024, History and Archives in Practice will endeavour to partner with an additional UK archive/institution which likewise specialises in the bringing together of archivists and researchers. Each year we’ll draw on aspects of UK collections and emerging research being undertaken, integrating it into the conference programme. This new format enables a formerly London-based conference to take place at archive centres across the UK.

You can see our call for papers below.

Join the conversation online using the hashtag #HAP2023 on Twitter.

HAP values

Collaboration and community: A collective endeavour between the Institute of Historical Research, Royal Historical Society and The National Archives, History and Archives in Practice brings together communities of researchers (archivists and historians) to discuss topics of mutual interest, in particular the nature of archival research and the use of historical collections.

Growing practice: This annual event prioritises research practices and encourages innovation and experimentation. It provides a space in which those of all stages and specialisms can share, learn and network, embracing new formats by which we can exchange knowledge while also envisaging unique and varied ways of working with history.

Possibilities: This collaborative event endeavours to highlight the diverse and unique nature of historical research – both demonstrating and creating new possibilities for researchers and practitioners to collaborate, co-produce and consider how we work with history and archives.

You can also learn more about what HAP means to us by watching these videos by Philip Carter, Claire Langhamer and Pip Willcox.

Call for participation

A partnership of The National Archives, Royal Historical Society, and the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, History and Archives in Practice (HAP) is where historians and archivists come together to consider shared interests in archive collections, their interpretation and use.

History and Archives in Practice (HAP) is a new annual event, building on its partners’ long experience of hosting events bringing archivists and historians into close conversation.

Central to HAP is a focus on archival and research ‘practice’: creating opportunities to demonstrate and discuss how we work with historical collections, and what historians and archivists can achieve collectively. By making ‘practice’ central to HAP, we’ll also make more of collections – with time to learn about selected archives and how historians and archivists work better together.

The theme for HAP2023 is ‘Collecting Communities: Working together and with collections’ and we now invite you to participate with a talk, panel or activity for our new-look event.

HAP2023 will take place at the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, on Wednesday 29 March 2023. Then, from 2024 we’ll be taking HAP across the country, partnering with UK archive centres, large and small, to learn more about their collections and good practice in the archives.

HAP2023 speaks to the diverse and unique nature of historical research – creating new possibilities for researchers and practitioners to collaborate, co-produce and reconsider how we work with history and archives. This event acts as a space in which colleagues at any career stage and from diverse specialisms can share, learn and network, embracing new ways to exchange knowledge while also exploring unique and varied ways of working with history.

HAP2023 is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of sex, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, or religion (or lack thereof).

We now invite proposals for ‘History and Archives in Practice, 2023’, on the theme of ‘Collecting Communities: Working together and with collections’. We welcome submissions from historians and archivists alike, especially those recently or currently involved in collaborative projects. Contributions to HAP2023 will explore the intersection between history, archives, collections and research, and reflect on shared practice across and between disciplines.

HAP2023 is particularly keen to to highlight and support smaller organisations, underrepresented collections and marginalised voices, as well as new and emerging research. Topics of discussion may include:

  • Collecting the contemporary (for example: born digital collections, collecting contemporary events and/or historicising the contemporary: how are archivists and historians working together when creating a collection?)
  • Designing a project: how are historians and archivists using collections to shape  programmes of research and engagement?
  • New ways of engaging with archives: insights into contemporary collecting practices and their use in historical research
  • Working with diverse collections and sensitive histories
  • Cross-sector collaborations
  • Promoting and accessing collections
  • Working with and/or building research communities
  • Advocating for history: working with and/or in smaller organisations, researching underrepresented collections, championing new research, and the value of greater appreciation of the past.

Please submit an abstract (300 words) by Friday 16 December using this form

The new format of ‘History and Archives in Practice’ encourages a wide range of formats that best showcase a collection and the experience/lessons of collaborative working between archivists and historians on shared projects. Suggested formats include:

  • 20-minute papers
  • Interactive workshops
  • Full panels on a chosen topic (3-4 speakers with chair, 15-20 minutes per speaker)
  • Introductions to specific collections and their potential for historical research
  • Demonstration and handling sessions, introducing attendees to selected items from your collections, and their potential in research
  • Other proposals and formats for communicating activity, experience and research are also welcome as we look to move on from traditional conference models

Previous seminar topics:

2021: New Ways to Work – future directions for archival and historical practice (watch the short videos from our speakers here)
2020: Co-production and collaboration in the archives (listen to audio recordings of the 2020 seminar)
2019: Digital and the archive
2018: Diversity among the documents? The representation of BAME communities within the UK’s archives
2017: Strongroom to seminar: archives and teaching in higher education
2016: The Experience of the Archive