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Royal Historical Society

Royal Historical Society
AbbreviationRHistS, RHS
Formation1868; 156 years ago (1868)
Merger ofCamden Society (1897) with the RHS
Registration no.206888
Legal statusCharity
PurposeHistorical studies
HeadquartersUniversity College London, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT
Membership (2021)
4,500+ members
Emma Griffin
Adam Hughes
Key people
Philip Carter, academic director
Main organ
Formerly called
The Historical Society

The Royal Historical Society, founded in 1868, is a learned society of the United Kingdom which advances scholarly studies of history.


The society was founded and received its royal charter in 1868. Until 1872 it was known as the Historical Society.[1] In 1897, it merged with (or absorbed) the Camden Society, founded in 1838.[2] In its origins, and for many years afterwards, the society was effectively a gentlemen's club. However, in the middle and later twentieth century the RHS took on a more active role in representing the discipline and profession of history.

Current activities

The society exists to promote historical research in the United Kingdom and worldwide, representing historians of all kinds. Its activities primarily concern advocacy and policy research, training, publishing, grants and research support, especially for early career historians, and awards and professional recognition. It provides a varied programme of lectures and one-day and two-day conferences and symposia covering diverse historical topics. It convenes in London and from time to time elsewhere throughout the United Kingdom. Since 1967 it has been based at University College London.[3]


The society is governed by a board of trustees called the council, which is chaired by the RHS President. The president and members of council are elected from the society's fellows. There are 22 councillors, each of whom serves a four-year term. Every year the fellowship elects three new members of council using a preferential voting system. Council members come from a wide variety of backgrounds and research interests.[4]

Fellows and members

The society's membership comprises honorary vice-presidents (management), elected fellows (entitled to use FRHistS as post-nominal letters), associate fellows, and members.[5]

Fellowships are awarded to those who have made an original contribution to historical scholarship, typically through the authorship of a book, a body of scholarly work similar in scale and impact to a book, the organisation of exhibitions and conferences, the editing of journals, and other works of diffusion and dissemination grounded in historical research. Election is conducted by review and applications must be supported by someone who is already a fellow. A list of current fellows and members is maintained online by the RHS.[6]


The society's publications include its monographic series Studies in History (1975–2020) and New Historical Perspectives (2016–),[7] its annual Transactions[8] (first published as Transactions of the Historical Society, 1872),[9] and the Camden Series of editions and translations of texts; as well as digital publications, such as the Bibliography of British and Irish History.

The society runs an active open-access online blog, entitled Historical Transactions.[10] It was established in 2018 as part of the commemoration of the Royal Historical Society’s 150th Anniversary.


The regular prizes, awards and recognitions granted by the society include:[11]

Only two historians have been awarded both the Whitfield Prize and the Alexander Prize:

  • A. G. Rosser – Alexander Prize (1983), Whitfield Prize (1989)
  • Ryan Hanley – Alexander Prize (2015), Whitfield Prize (2019)[12][13]

List of presidents

The presidents of the society have been:[14][15]

See also


  1. ^ Library of Congress authorities
  2. ^ Milne, Alexander Taylor (1968). A Centenary Guide to the Publications of the Royal Historical Society 1868–1968, and of the former Camden Society 1838–1897. Royal Historical Society Guides and Handbooks. London: Royal Historical Society. p. 49n. ISBN 9780901050007.
  3. ^ "History of the Society". RHS. Archived from the original on 9 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  4. ^ "RHS Officers". Archived from the original on 11 September 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  5. ^ "Membership". RHS. Archived from the original on 1 January 2020. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  6. ^ "RHS Fellows and Members". RHS. Archived from the original on 11 June 2019. Retrieved 11 September 2019.
  7. ^ "New Historical Perspectives". RHS. Archived from the original on 9 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  8. ^ "Transactions of the RHS". RHS. Archived from the original on 28 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  9. ^ Vol. 1 ([1872])–v. 10 (1882); new ser., v. 1 (1883)–new ser., v. 20 (1906); 3rd ser., v. 1 (1907)–3rd ser., v. 11 (1917); 4th ser., v. 1 (1918)–4th ser., v. 32 (1950); 5th ser., v. 1 (1951)–5th ser., 40 (1990); 6th ser., 1 (1991)– (British Library catalogue)
  10. ^ "Historical Transactions". RHS. Archived from the original on 27 September 2021. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  11. ^ "Prizes". RHS. Archived from the original on 9 September 2021. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  12. ^ "RHS Whitfield Prize Winners | RHS". Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  13. ^ "RHS Alexander Prize Past Winners | RHS". Retrieved 2 July 2023.
  14. ^ "Presidents of the Royal Historical Society" (PDF). 4 March 2016. Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2021.
  15. ^ "Past Presidents". Archived from the original on 12 September 2021. Retrieved 12 September 2021.


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Royal Historical Society
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