Pounds 20 million, please, for a world-class seat of learning

April 16, 1999

For almost 12 months now I have been directing the Institute of Historical Research, within London's Senate House, a monumental 1930s building that, it is rumoured, would have been Hitler's headquarters had he successfully invaded England in 1940. While from one perspective the IHR partakes of the generally depressed character of contemporary British academe, from another it holds out the hope of escaping from it.

For more than 75 years the institute has been a unique resource for all who regard the past as an essential element in cultural enrichment and civilised living. But it has been sustained by inadequate funds.

The IHR enjoys an annual income of Pounds 1.5 million, mostly derived from government funding and research grants.

Now we urgently need additional funds to support our publications, conferences and seminars, to allow us to put on public lectures and develop our educational outreach programme, and to enable us to appoint library, research and administrative staff. We need to refurbish the library and expand itsholdings, to upgrade our computertraining room, to provide a lecture theatre and seminar rooms and to create office space for an enlarged community of resident historians.

We intend to make this space and support available to junior research fellows completing their first publications, to visiting fellows and professors from Britain and overseas and to a number of research professors, who will provide academic leadership within the IHR and who will raise its public profile around the world.

In short, we seek to renew the IHR as a centre where history is brought alive, to create an environment where historians may work freed from the shackles that constrain so much of British academe.

But to accomplish this we need a sum of not less than Pounds 20 million.

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