Voluntary Action History Society Fifth International Conference

University of Huddersfield, 10-12 July 2013

Keynote speakers: Professor Ellen Ross (Ramapo College, New Jersey) and Professor Barry Doyle (University of Huddersfield)

Even if you can’t be with us, you can follow events online. Keep an eye on the #VAHS2013 hashtag on twitter for all the latest comments, thoughts and photos. Meanwhile you can see the edited highlights of social media and related blogs at our conference storify.

You can also browse the posts on our blog related to the conference here.

Provisional Conference Timetable and Conference Panels (updated) now available!

As you will see, some of our sessions are missing Chairs. If you would be interested in volunteering to chair one of the sessions, please contact Charlotte at:

The Voluntary Action History Society is delighted to announce that its fifth international research conference will be held at the University of Huddersfield in summer 2013. Huddersfield is an historic mill town in West Yorkshire with a rich history of voluntary and collective action. The themes for the conference are:

Activism and campaigning;
Co-operation and mutualism;
Humanitarianism and relief;
Leisure and voluntary action;
State and voluntary action;
Wars and voluntarism.


Emergency WRVS feeding at the Lewisham train crash.
By kind permission of WRVS EMF055

About the venue

Huddersfield is located between Leeds and Manchester. The university campus is less than an hour from Leeds-Bradford and Manchester airports and approximately three hours by train from London. Single accommodation will be available on campus at Apsley Hall while delegates wishing to book a double room will be able to stay at nearby Huddersfield Central Premier Inn. A social  programme including a conference dinner and history quiz will be arranged alongside an excursion to visit Sir Titus Salt’s Mill and the David Hockney gallery at Saltaire.

As in past years we will offer a New Researchers prize for the best paper given by a PhD student or recently submitted PhD student. We will also be offering a number of bursaries for research students to enable attendance.

We are pleased to announce the range of conference rates that we will be offering. Please note these rates may still be subject to minor changes. Conference fee information

About the keynote speakers

Ellen RossEllen Ross is Professor of History and Women’s Studies at Ramapo College, New Jersey. She is the author of Love and Toil: Motherhood in Outcast London 1870-1918 (1993) and the edited anthology Slum Journeys: Ladies and London Poverty 1860-1920 (2007), as well as numerous articles and book chapters on women and voluntary action. At the conference Professor Ross will talk on her new research into British women’s international relief work between the wars. Her lecture will centre on an exemplar of this generation: Francesca Wilson (1888-1981), a Newnham College graduate who was involved in the relief work of both world wars. Wilson left her day job as a teacher in  in Birmingham for long stretches in Serbia, Austria, Russia, Spain, Hungary, and as an UNRRA worker in Germany. Her career is suggestive of the gradual professionalization of relief work, a project to which she contributed in some of the books and articles she produced during her long life.

Barry Doyle is Professor of Health History and Director of the Centre for the History of Public Health and Medicine at the University of Huddersfield. His research interests bring together urban, health and voluntary action history, especially in his recent work on The Politics of Hospital Provision in Early Twentieth Century Britain, a study of the development of health care systems in Leeds and Sheffield. At the heart of his work is the interaction of individuals and groups in the management of society, especially the relationship between voluntary organisations, churches, political parties, business and the local state. His conference lecture, ‘”Those who have for generations given of their best”: The Networks of Voluntary Action since 1870’ will examine the centrality of individuals and their networks in building and sustaining voluntary action at a range of levels from the village WI to international and transnational organisations.

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