Our researchers are currently exploring a wide range of health history topics with interdisciplinary and international scope offering value to scholars and practitioners alike. We have secured funding from a variety of partners and sponsors for cutting edge projects that push the boundaries of current knowledge.  Recent funding includes the AHRC (Gill, Ellis, Doyle), Wellcome (Ellis, Doyle), Swiss National Science Foundation (Sambells), Economic History Society (Doyle), Rockefeller Archive Center (Doyle). Research has also drawn significant funding from the University of Huddersfield’s URF.

In collaboration with Dr Rosemary Cresswell (Hull University), Professor Barry Doyle is exploring the role of first aid in the workplace, streets, public events and institutional settings of England and France. Funded by the AHRC, Crossing Boundaries: First aid in twentieth century Britain and France examines the work of first aid organisations in providing training for first aid and assesses the role of voluntary effort in maintaining the safety of the public in these nations with very different traditions of non-state action.

Prof Barry Doyle is also investigating healthcare in East-Central Europe. Healthcare systems in Europe before welfare states, 1900-40 analyses the funding, ownership, access, medicalization and development of the infrastructure of hospitals and clinics within the early 20th Century. This project will establish the availability of primary and secondary source material for the study of healthcare provision at a chaotic time of conflict in European history. In addition to articles in Medical History, Revue d’histoire de la protection sociale, and Chinese Journal for the Social History of Medicine, Prof Doyle will be editing a special issue of the European Review of History with Dr Hannah-Louise Clarke of the University of Glasgow on the theme of ‘Imperial and Post-Imperial Healthcare before Welfare States’ for publication in 2021.

Having received funding from the Wellcome Trust, Dr Rob Ellis has recently studied London’s asylums during the crucial period after the passing of the Local Government Act of 1888. His monograph, London and its Asylums, 1888-1914. Politics and Madness (2020) recasts asylums as sites of political discourse and debate, and reveals how mental health policy was affected by the new political landscape and the new political landscape affected it.

Dr Rob Ellis and Dr Rebecca Gill have initiated a collaborative long-term project called Asylum: Refugees and Mental Health that explores the experience of Belgian refugees' in British workhouses and asylums before, during and after the Great War. This transnational study will lead to a greater understanding of the history of refugees' and their mental health at a time of conflict.

AS Co-I on the AHRC funded Hobhouse Letters project, Dr Rebecca Gill has actively collaborated with the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute  to develop the Humanitarian Handicrafts project. Through an investigation of Emily Hobhouse’s letters and artefacts Dr Gill and the project team have explored her contribution to international peace, relief and reconstruction in the South African War and First World War and have sought to investigate the relationship between arts and crafts and humanitarianism. In June 2019, Dr Giill cohosted a workshop called Humanitarian Handicrafts with the Textiles Department at the University of Huddersfield and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute. This well attended public event at the University of Huddersfield showcased the important links between the creation, utility and impact of handicrafts in international humanitarian contexts.

Prof Christine Hallett, a leading expert in nursing history, is currently Chair of the UK Association for the History of Nursing, and President of the European Association for the History of Nursing. She holds Fellowships of both the Royal Society of Medicine and the Royal Society for the Arts.

Professor Hallett’s main research focus is on the history of nursing work, especially the work of those who cared for the wounded of the First World War.  Among her publications are a number of single-authored monographs: Containing Trauma: Nursing Work in the First World War (Manchester University Press, 2009); Veiled Warriors: Allied Nurses of the First World War (Oxford University Press, 2014); Nurse Writers of the Great War (Manchester University Press, 2016); and Edith Cavell and Her Legend (Palgrave, 2018). In 2018, Dr Hallett was invited to participate in projects about nursing history led by the Smithsonian Institutions, Washington, USA, and the Hellenic Centre, London (jointly with the Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, Greece).

Her current projects include: Breaking the codes: compassion and contempt in a Flanders field hospital (1915-18); and Shaping Nursing: Regulation, Resilience and the Making of the Professional Nurse, 1860 to 1920, a collaborative international study, with partners from the Universities of Heidelberg, Virginia, Pennsylvania and University College Dublin.

Dr Pat Cullum investigates medieval hospitals and alms-houses within Yorkshire (936-1547). Her research focuses on how women’s charity within the larger movement of patronage and donation for St Leonard’s Hospital in York reflected and underpinned religion devotion. Currently, Dr Cullum is working on a project of hospital sisters across medieval Europe to explore the diversity of identity and practice in comparison to other kinds of religious women, including the informal forms of care.

Our centre also benefits from Dr Alexander von Lunen’s studies into aviation medicine, eugenics, suicide, and medical experiments during the early 20th century. Dr von Lunen’s research has brought to the attention of the English-speaking world the medical advances made by lesser-known figures, including Dutch aviation physiologist Jacob Jongbloed, who became a critical figure in aeromedical research in the interwar period. By exploring themes within medical research, Dr von Lunen sheds light on equipment and practises used in aviation for medical advancements that were then mobilised by the private sector, military and scientific fields during the conflicts of the 20th century.

With research interests in children in war, both Dr Lindsey Dodd and Dr Chelsea Sambells have published upon the impact of war and trauma on the young in modern warfare. Funded by the AHRC, Dr Dodd’s Franco-British project ‘Disrupted histories, recovered pasts’ was a collaborative project with French scholars from Labex Passé dans le present (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense), and UK-based colleagues (Bath Spa), to collect oral histories of wartime childhoods. Dr Chelsea Sambells has also studied the impact of Swiss-led children’s schools within wartime Europe, to help establish the importance of health and welfare within international humanitarian projects for children. In 2020, she was awarded a major grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation for a collaborative project with colleagues at the University of Geneva about the role of translation policies during the Second World War within targeted humanitarian action for children in Europe.