History Workshop Online is a forum, laboratory, and virtual coffeehouse devoted to the practice of radical history. Launched in 2011 by the editorial collective of History Workshop Journal, it offers debates, reflections, tools, and resources for anyone interested in connecting historical research with present-day politics, whether through engagement with public history, social history, the history of sexuality and gender, or intimate histories of everyday life.
The History Workshop movement
Guiding the website is the spirit of the History Workshop movement. Founded in Britain in the late sixties by the historian Raphael Samuel, the movement advocated “history from below”: history envisioned from the perspective of ordinary people rather than elites. To that end, it sought to move the study of the past beyond the academy into public gatherings – “workshops” – that were open to anyone. The aim was to turn historical research and writing into (as Samuel put it) ‘a collaborative enterprise, one in which the researcher, the archivist, the curator and the teacher, the “do-it-yourself enthusiast” and the local historian, the family history societies and the individual archaeologist, should all be regarded as equally engaged’.
Our mission is to reinvigorate that vision of a collaborative, radical history. Today, with the help of the internet, history can be “made” – collections displayed, manuscripts and documents downloaded, results published – by anyone with access to a computer. We seek to reimagine the movement’s ideal of a “history workshop” for the digital era. To that end, we welcome contributions from anyone captivated by the historical imagination, particularly those who live and work in situations of conflict. Our aim is to provide a global clearinghouse for conversations and disputations amongst historians, curators, activists, and others who aim to put past and present into critical dialogue and to make historical analysis a tool for change.