A short history of the HA

The Historical Association was created in 1906 to support the study and enjoyment of history.

The HA was founded just as compulsory elementary education was becoming the norm, and the range of subjects was growing to include the relatively new school discipline of history. By 1906 a number of ‘subject' associations were in existence – the Mathematical Association had been founded in 1870, the Geographical and Modern Language Associations in 1893, the Classical Association in 1903. This movement stimulated history teachers, who by 1906 had already begun to form local groups.

From the outset the Association was intended to be complementary to the Royal Historical Society. Its first aim was to bring together teachers of history from primary (or elementary schools) with the fledgling university professionals. But from very early on the Association acquired a further aim expressed by Professor Tout in 1911 ‘... that now we are becoming strong and well-established we shall not forget that we can also make ourselves an Association of students, a body desirous of furthering the study and the investigation of history.'

The branch structure led to people not involved with history teaching or study wanting to join. The growing non-professional interest in history was quickly seen in the Association's branch structure. Whilst branches in large cities or near universities and teacher training colleges attracted history teachers looking to support one another, other branches began to spring up appealing to members of the public wanting to learn more about history.  In January 1917 membership was widened to allow ‘all persons interested in the study and teaching of history' to become members. Today there are over 45 branches around the UK, running approximately 300 events each year. 

The Association continues to support the study, teaching and enjoyment of history at all levels. In our centenary year 2006 we were granted a Royal Charter. As one of our founding members – and later a President of the HA – was Henry Marten, tutor to Queen Elizabeth II as a young woman, this felt a fitting celebration of our centenary and our then royal Patron.

We are also now able to reach in excess of 24,000 digital subscribers through our website, giving access to around 8000 articles, resources, podcasts and films.  

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