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Centre for Historical Research

International and Innovative – A bridge between Past and Present, Britain and the World

The Centre for Historical Research brings together scholars active in researching a wide variety of subjects, including early modern and modern conflicts, retailing, distribution and consumption history, terrorism, terrorism prevention and child forced labour in modern war. We enjoy a thriving research culture, with a number of leading publications and an active programme of events.

We always welcome enquiries from students wishing to undertake postgraduate research with us or scholarly organisations seeking to collaborate on new research projects. Find out more about our researchers and our current research.

Our research areas

The American History research group at the Centre for Historical Research brings together researchers whose work explores a wide variety of themes in U.S. history. Key strengths include: diplomatic and imperial history, naval and military history, economic and political history, and the history of “race” and ethnicity. The group’s recent research activities have received support from external bodies such as the Roosevelt Institute for American Studies and the British Association for American Studies, among others. Members of the group are keen to hear from anybody who might wish to carry out their own research in American History at the University of Wolverhampton.

American History

Supported by British and international foundations, research focuses in particular on Polish, Soviet and Jewish children forced to work in Germany and in German occupied Eastern Europe. Both contemporary documents and testimonies show that children were forced to work in all branches of industry, in agriculture and as domestics in German households, while the Wehrmacht and SS deployed children, for example, in construction work on fortifications, bridges, roads and airfields. Conferences: Children and War: Past and Present, co-organized together with colleagues from the University of Salzburg (Salzburg 2010, 2013 and 2016).

The Class, Gender and Respectability Group (part of the Centre for Historical Research) seeks to explore new and innovative ways of examining the social, cultural and economic history of modern Britain. Members of the Group do so by considering the development of class and gender identities during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and by investigating in particular the ways in which such identities have been strengthened, undermined and modified by variables such as age, region, marital status, work, culture and respectability. We believe that something of the range – and the success – of these initiatives can be seen in the books (articles, chapters and other publications) that we have produced in recent years

Class, Gender and Respectability

At its core, the German history group’s research - based on evaluation of archive and contemporary sources - is firmly anchored in established approaches to the study of history. It also breaks new ground in using and developing oral history, including expert interviews with policy makers and officials as well as biographical interviews.

Research areas include: The history of Imperial Germany, the Weimar Republic, Nazi and post-war Germany, Forced migration in war-time and post-war Europe, European migrants and refugees in Britain, Migration and minority cultures in 19th and 20th century Germany, Survivors of Nazi persecution and the new beginnings after 1945, British and international humanitarian assistance.
Conferences include: Beyond Camps and Forced Labour. Current International Research on Survivors of Nazi Persecution, co-organized together with colleagues from Birkbeck College, Royal Holloway and Imperial War Museum (London 2003, 2006, 2009, 2012, forthcoming 2015).

German History 

The centre has produced monographs, articles and edited collections on coal mining history, the Labour Party, the trade union movement, Irish nationalism and socialist politics. Such research has reconstructed the lives of socialist pioneers and working-class activists and the role that they have played in the development of modern Britain. The University of Wolverhampton is the home of the Dictionary of Labour Biography project. Since the initial spadework by the socialist intellectual G.D.H Cole in the 1950s, the dictionary has developed in response to both political and historiographical challenges. Recent and forthcoming volumes are developing new strands of biographical research and uncovering neglected aspects of labour historiography.

Migration is a major research area with a number of historians at Wolverhampton working on a range of periods, countries and economic, political and cultural contexts. Professor Dieter Steinert has produced monographs and articles on the movement and treatment of migrants in twentieth century Europe. Dr Simon Constantine is currently working on an innovative comparative project exploring the treatment of gypsies, travellers and ‘show people’ in Germany and England in the late nineteenth early twentieth century. Dr Richard Hawkins is developing work on migration in the West Midlands linked to the Black and Ethnic Minority Experience Project. Professor Keith Gildart has explored the impact of West Indian culture and the music of Black America on the English working class. He is currently working on a monograph titled Keeping the Faith: A History of Northern Soul that will be published by Manchester University Press.

The Military History research group at the Centre for Historical Research brings together leading international researchers with an interest in a broad range of military issues. There are particular strengths in the era of the two world wars, the US Civil War and the English Civil Wars. The group have published widely and to great acclaim, are involved in a range of projects, conferences and seminars, and offer innovative and ground breaking learning and teaching opportunities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

Military History 

Established in 1999 to give new impetus to the study of the history of retailing and distribution, and to act as an inter-disciplinary point of contact between scholars - both in Britain and abroad - engaged in research within this field, CHORD organises a programme of colloquia, workshops and annual international conferences on a range of topics. CHORD builds upon the interests and expertise of a number of University of Wolverhampton staff, with publications in areas that include early modern retailing and distribution, the menswear trade, the retailing and consumption of furniture, early Victorian markets and department stores, as well as the on-line Dictionary of Traded Goods and Commodities 1550-1820.

Retailing and Distribution

The Terrorism and Conflict Group examines the causes, impact and possible resolution of terrorism and conflict in the modern world.  Members of the group evaluate conflicts and terrorism from both empirical and theoretical perspectives.  Staff have published widely on issues regarding terrorism in Greece, Britain, Ireland, Northern Ireland, America and Sri Lanka, as well as work examining terrorism and conflict resolution in comparative contexts.  Members of the Group have secured funding for projects from the British Academy, Leverhulme Trust , Nuffield Foundation and The Smith Richardson Foundation and regularly organise conferences and public lectures at the University of Wolverhampton.  They have also devised and delivered projects funded by the European Union on conflict resolution, terrorism and political violence and why people riot, with partners in Norway, Spain and Greece.

Terrorism and Conflict Resolution

Archive Collections

Since 1972 the Dictionary of Labour Biography (DLB) project has been an established international research resource for scholars and students in the field of labour, social and working-class history. The Dictionary has made an indispensable contribution to our understanding of the origins and development of the British trade union movement, the Labour Party, the Communist Party and associated socialist organisations. It is used by academics, local/regional historians, the trade union movement and family history researchers. The late Eric Hobsbawm described the DLB as ‘the best of its kind anywhere in the world’. The first ten volumes were edited by Professor John Savile and Dr Joyce Bellamy (University of Hull) and published by Palgrave Macmillan between 1972 and 2000. Subsequent volumes (11, 12 and 13) have been edited by Professor Keith Gildart (University of Wolverhampton) and Professor David Howell (University of York) and published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2003, 2005 and 2010. Unlike other encyclopaedia/dictionary projects the DLB contains lengthy biographical/analytical essays drawing on a broad range of primary sources.  Research is currently underway on entries that will form the basis of volumes 14 and 15. The editors welcome the submission of proposed subjects for future volumes.

Much of the work of historians on the composition of the New Model Army has been vitiated by incomplete and erroneous information about the composition of the officer corps of the army as it changed over time. The aim is to produce a definitive listing that will be of permanent benefit to both professional and amateur historians. Volume one covering all the officers with commissions (that is quartermaster to captain general) for the period from the New Model’s formation in April 1645 until the outbreak of war with Scotland in June 1650 will be ready for publication by the end of 2014. A second volume covering the army in England, Scotland and Ireland 1650-1660 will take another two years to complete. Professor Malcolm Wanklyn (University of Wolverhampton) has uncovered masses of material about the careers of ordinary soldiers in the New Model Army, which shows that there was an unexpectedly high level of movement from one regiment to another, and also a change between 1645 and 1650 which is perhaps best described as topographical. Initially the army was very largely composed of officers and men from the south-east of the country By 1650 it included soldiers from almost all parts of England apart from the far south-west.

This archive has been established by the University of Wolverhampton’s Department of History, Politics and War Studies and contains a collection of interviews with World War Two veterans, predominantly conducted since 2011. Matthew Lucas has headed the programme, helped by John Buckley, both of whom have been involved in the study of the Second World War since the early 1990s either as researchers, teachers or battlefield guides. Most of the interviews have been with British Army veterans who fought in the Northwest European Campaign of 1944-5, from D-Day to the end of the war. They have been used in teaching (undergraduate courses such as The Battle for Normandy 1944 and Citizen Soldiers: The British Army in the Second World War) and in publications such as John Buckley, Monty’s Men: The British Army and the Liberation of Europe 1944-5 (Yale, 2013). The interviews will also form the basis of an oral history book of the Northwest European Campaign to be published in 2015.

 A dictionary of nearly 4,000 terms found used in documents relating to trade and retail in early modern Britain.

It is hosted by British History Online ( and you can go directly to the website via To find out a little more, read this extract from the introduction: 
A dictionary that explains 'zoobditty match' ...

The dictionary of terms related to traded goods and commodities, 1550-1820 is the work of the Dictionary Project at the University of Wolverhampton. It grew out of the work carried out to produce the Gloucester Coastal Port Books in the 1990s, and the present publication with British History Online is the first instalment of circa 4,000 terms found used in documents relating to trade and retail. The work on capturing the day-to-day language of commerce continues, with a view to publishing the next instalment of terms in subsequent editions. 

The editors are not lexicographers but historians, not specialists but 'experts on being generalists'. Together with specialists they present a new dictionary for historians and those who are interested in early modern economic and social history and in the language of trade at that time. The aim is to name and explain the many different types of traded goods that have long since disappeared or that have changed over the years. These include 'zoobditty match', a rich sauce or pickle based on fish, which came from India and was popular at fashionable tables in the late eighteenth century.

An understanding of the vocabulary of trade is an essential tool for historians of the early modern period, and yet it is one that is ill served by existing dictionaries and historical research alike. Items both exotic and mundane such as 'carnation tape' and Daffy's Elixir, as well as those produced as a result of technological advances by specialist producers, each had an impact on contemporary life throughout the country. The dictionary aims to be more than a compilation of existing references. It offers an informed understanding of the complex relationships between innovation, the market place and the consumer, and a fascinating insight into nearly 300 years of material culture.  Enjoy your visit!