The Centre for Urban History (founded 1985) is a unique institution for the study of towns and cities. We see urban history as a meeting place where different disciplines come together to examine the city as a complex physical and social system in historical perspective. We share a dual perspective explaining how cities have evolved through time while promoting understanding of the historic environment today. The present focus of the Centre’s work is the urban history of Europe and Asia since 1700, encompassing local, national and international dimensions of the urban past. Our knowledge and expertise have a global as well as a local reach and we are strongly responsive to new areas of research. We aim to influence both scholarship and policy-making at the highest levels and to contribute to the development of cities in the future. Knowledge of the urban past generates knowledge for the present which has numerous applications in the areas of urban policy, heritage, sustainability and regeneration. Thus we not only promote excellence in teaching and research but seek to provide training, expertise and advice for future and current practitioners. Current staff research focuses upon the urban history of Britain, Ireland, Egypt, India and China from 1700 to 2000 and addresses the following themes: environmental urban history, concepts of urban heritage from 1700, colonial urban history, urban governance, oral history, the production of urban history from the eighteenth century, and the history of urban planning, housing and the built environment since 1750. (For further details of staff research interests please see individual staff profiles).
The CUH Community
The development of a real community spirit is fostered in CUH, where graduates are encouraged to provide mutual support, to socialise together and to augment their professional expertise by organising their own workshops and seminar series, by taking part in conferences, by teaching and public speaking, by dealing with the press, and by understanding author's copyright and publishing before thesis completion. Each year CUH welcomes a number of international scholars usually for a semester. For details see the Visitor Programme
. In recent years we have welcomed colleagues from China, Japan, Turkey, Bosnia, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic and Austria. CUH has excellent study facilities for research students and international visitors: office space, a specialist library and local history collection, weekly seminar programme, workshops and conferences.
Archive Collections and Catalogues
The East Midlands Oral History Archive, established in 2000 as a partnership between the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council, is a major archival repository of oral history recordings. EMOHA collects, preserves and disseminates these recordings and also equips local historians across the East Midlands with the skills and training necessary to document and interpret their own oral history material. The David Wilson Library also holds the catalogued papers of HJ Dyos, often considered the inspirational force to urban history in Britain. Other personal papers, including those of such pioneer figures in Local History as WG Hoskins and HP Finberg are also held in the Archives Room. These collections provide useful insights into the intellectual origins and networks of early Leicester pioneers in these fields. You can consult the Dyos catalogue on-line. The Centre has its own growing specialist library to complement the University Library's excellent collection of urban, archaeological and local history books and journals. CUH also holds slide and post card collections in the Archives. These are useful resources that the Centre seeks to develop further, once cataloguing has been completed.
The Centre for Urban History provides a hub for British and international activities in terms of on-line resources, publications and conferences for urban historians. The Centre edits the academic journal, Urban History (published by CUP), and produces an on-line conference diary and monthly newsletter. In addition, it coordinates meetings of the British Urban History Group, and promotes the Pre-Modern Towns Group and European Urban History Association conferences.