Back to list

An Old Photograph of a Man at Work

Call for Papers: SHCG Conference 2011

Call for Contributions

Annual Conference
Manchester and Liverpool (venue to be confirmed)
7 & 8 July 2011

Who Do We Think We Are? Working with Social History Collections in the 21st Century

Are we subject specialists or generalists? In these times of limited funding, overstretched resources and need to demonstrate impact we might be forgiven for losing something of our sense of identity in an attempt to be all things to all people.

This year’s conference invites those who work with social history to stand up and be counted and asks “what does it mean to be a social history practitioner”? SHCG is pleased to invite contribution proposals from across the museum sector that reflects on one or more of the following core themes:

· What are the defining skills of a social history curator?
· How important is subject specialist knowledge and where does it come from?
· How can we advocate the role of the social history in museums?
· What does the individual bring to their role?
· What added value can we attach to social history in museums

SHCG Annual conference will aim to cover these themes in a variety of formats, including presentations, debate, workshop and skills development sessions


Are you enthusiastic about sharing an element of your work with others? We are looking for interesting case studies, thoughts and reflections on one or more of the core themes to be presented in a 20 minute paper (plus 10 mins answering questions). Proposals should include a 200 word summary of the presentation, contact details and institutional affiliation (if any).


Fancy testing your powers of logic and reason? We need lively individuals to take part in a witty, tongue in cheek but nevertheless thought-provoking debate on the nature of social history practitioners. Debaters will work in pairs to either propose or oppose the motion (yet to be confirmed).


Developing and leading a workshop could be an ideal CPD opportunity. We envisage starting the second day with an informally facilitated workshop that will allow delegates to explore how they can advocate the role of the social history practitioner in these difficult times. The workshop will last approximately 50 mins with an additional 30 minutes for coffee and feedback.

Skills Development Sessions

Those working with social history collections are often expected to demonstrate a wide range of skills. We would like individuals to develop and lead short, 20 minute sessions that will allow delegates to develop and refresh their skills in their choice of two relevant activities. Suggested activities may include:

· Object identification
· Interpretation skills
· Pest identification/basic conservation
· Marking and labelling
· Presentations and talk giving
· Revisiting collections
· Research and information gathering
· Preparing a brief for an exhibition designer/consultant


Please email expressions of interest and proposals for contributions to Karen Oliver-Spry ( by Friday 28th January 2011


Speakers’ travel costs can be reimbursed (travel reimbursed at standard fare rate – please book in advance if possible) and there will be no attendance fee on the day of speaking. Unfortunately we are unable to provide additional fees, subsistence costs or accommodation.

The Social History Curators Group was formed to improve the status and provision of social history in museums and the standards of collections, research, display and interpretation. The group acts as a forum for sharing ideas and practical experience with others involved in social and local history in museums.