HA Annual Conference round-up 2024

Published: 21st May 2024

Historical Association Annual Conference, Birmingham, May 2024

This year we were in Birmingham for two full days of excellent history enrichment, CPD, tours and intellectual exchange. As always it was a full schedule from the moment the HA reception desk was set up on the Thursday evening to when it was pulled down on Saturday afternoon.

On Friday morning the conference started with our first keynote talk from HA President Professor Alexandra Walsham, who took over the position last summer. It was a remarkable lecture with the title ‘A Short History of Forgetting in England’s Long Reformation’, which brought to life some of the aspects of the Reformation story we had all previously missed – how do you create new histories when the past is still very much part of the present? The talk raised questions around what is communicated down the generations and how the past can be distorted, with truth open to context and personal views. All those present and online left with no doubt that this was how you start a history conference.

The education workshops, pedagogy CPD, specialist talks and trips that followed on throughout the day maintained the high standard. All breaks were just a flash of hot drinks and enthusiastic chatter about how interesting the previous session had been.

The formal part of the first day finished with a panel discussion on the role of the historian as a commentator for events today. It was a reminder of how knowledge of the past can assist all of us, from the young to the decision-makers of today, in formulating plans and thinking about actions such as tackling the climate crisis and social planning.

The evening of conference was an optional curry night and a quiz, which delivered both culture and comedy. If you ever need to see how a potato can be used to convey a person or event from history do seek out the photographs!

William Dalrymple gave the Saturday morning keynote, talking about the history of the British East India Company and the influence and impact that it had. It was a fascinating talk that dripped with anecdotes, facts and insight into a commercial exercise that helped to build an empire. The book queue certainly helped tell a tale on how popular this talk had been.

The rest of the day was no less busy with further workshops, historically enriching lectures and specialist CPD. In the words of one of those that attended, “It was the best conference ever – with wonderful history and CPD.” In fact, some people were discussing how they had bought the virtual package in addition to attending in person so that they could watch the recordings later as well.

If you want to see how it went for yourself look at our social media wall or look for #haconf24 on X/Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. 

Next year we will be in Liverpool from 9-10 May and we already have some of our speakers lined up, so do watch out for more news. Register your interest in attending by emailing conference@history.org.uk