LJMU History Research

LJMU History’s research is as diverse in its subject matter and as dynamic in its forms as the staff who produce it. Our historians regularly publish books, edited collections and articles in world-class journals, in addition to delivering their research to the wider public through exhibitions, talks and through media appearances. The scope of the historical research undertaken at LJMU is vast, encompassing topics as diverse as the histories of identity, gender and sexuality, memory and commemoration in Ireland, the history of the Third Reich, post-colonial Africa and nuclear diplomacy, amongst many other fascinating areas of inquiry. 


Two broad research clusters exist within LJMU History, each providing effective peer support amongst researchers for the production of outputs and funding bids, including sessional staff and postgraduate research students.  

Social and Cultural Identities and Representations

This cluster has recently produced books and Impact Case Studies from Gillian O'Brien (The Darkness Echoing and "Presenting the Past" case study) and Emma Vickers ("Dry Your Eyes Princess" case study), as well as David Clampin's research-informed Impact project, "She Wanted To See A Soldier". This research cluster also houses Susan Grant's Welcome Trust-funded project, "Growing Old in the Soviet Union, 1945-1991" 

Politics, Economics and Ideas in International History

Recent outputs from this cluster include James Crossland's, The Red Cross Movement: Myths Practices and Turning Points - an edited collection born of collaborations with scholars from the University of Stirling and Flinders University, Tom Beaumont's Fellow Travellers: Communist Trade Unionism and Industrial Relations on the French Railways, 1914-1939 and Nick White's In Trust: A History of PNB. This cluster also houses Chris Vaughan's AHRC-funded project "Regionalism in East Africa, c. 1900-present"

Our Latest Publications

The following are some of the key publications that will feature in LJMU History's 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF) submission   

Gillian O'Brien, The Darkness Echoing (Penguin: 2020)

Darkness Echoing 

From war to revolution, famine to emigration, The Darkness Echoing travels around Ireland bringing its dark past to life

Ireland is a nation obsessed with death. We find a thrill in the moribund, a strange enchantment in the drama of our dark past. It's everywhere we look and in all of our beloved myths, songs and stories that have helped to form our cultural identity. Our wakes and ballads, our plays and famine sites, all of them and more come together to tell ourselves and the world who we are and what we have suffered to get here.

James Crossland, War, Law and Humanity: the Campaign to Control Warfare, 1850-1914 (Bloomsbury: 2018)

War, Law and Humanity tells the story of the transatlantic campaign to either mitigate the destructive forces of the battlefield, or prevent wars from being waged altogether, in the decades prior to the disastrous summer of 1914. Starting with the Crimean War of the 1850s, James Crossland traces this campaign to control warfare from the scandalous barracks of Scutari to the shambolic hospitals of the American Civil War, from the bloody sieges of Paris and Erzurum to the combative conference halls of Geneva and The Hague, uncovering the intertwined histories of a generation of humanitarians, surgeons, pacifists and utopians who were shocked into action by the barbarism and depravities of war. By examining the fascinating personal accounts of these figures, Crossland illuminates the complex motivations and influential actions of those committed to the campaign to control war, demonstrating how their labours built the foundation for the ideas – enshrined in our own times as international norms – that soldiers need caring for, weapons need restricting and wars need rules.

Malcom Craig, America, Britain and Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Programme, 1974-1980 (Palgrave: 2017)

This book analyses US and UK efforts to shut down Pakistan’s nuclear programme in the 1970s, between the catalytic Indian nuclear test of May 1974 and the decline of sustained non-proliferation activity from mid-1979 onwards. It is a tale of cooperation between Washington and London, but also a story of divisions and disputes. The brutal economic realities of the decade, globalisation, and wider geopolitical challenges all complicated this relationship. Policy and action were also affected by changes elsewhere in the world. Iran’s 1979 revolution brought a new form of political Islamic radicalism to prominence. The fears engendered by the Ayatollah and his followers, coupled to the blustering rhetoric of Pakistani leaders, gave rise to the ‘Islamic bomb’, a nuclear weapon supposedly created by Pakistan to be shared amongst the Muslim ummah. This study thus combines cultural, diplomatic, economic, and political history to offer a rigorous, deeply researched account of a critical moment in nuclear history.

Emma Vickers and Corinna Peniston-Bird, Gender and the Second World War: Lessons of War (Red Globe: 2016)

Showing how gender history contributes to existing understandings of the Second World War, this book offers detail and context on the national and transnational experiences of men and women during the war. Following a general introduction, the essays shed new light on the field and illustrate methods of working with a wide range of primary sources. 


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Gillian O'Brien, Bloods Runs Green: The Murder that Transfixed Gilded Age Chicago (Chicago University Press: 2015)

It was the biggest funeral Chicago had seen since Lincoln’s. On May 26, 1889, four thousand mourners proceeded down Michigan Avenue, followed by a crowd forty thousand strong, in a howl of protest at what commentators called one of the ghastliest and most curious crimes in civilized history. The dead man, Dr. P. H. Cronin, was a respected Irish physician, but his brutal murder uncovered a web of intrigue, secrecy, and corruption that stretched across the United States and far beyond.

Blood Runs Green tells the story of Cronin’s murder from the police investigation to the trial. It is a story of hotheaded journalists in pursuit of sensational crimes, of a bungling police force riddled with informers and spies, and of a secret revolutionary society determined to free Ireland but succeeding only in tearing itself apart. It is also the story of a booming immigrant population clamouring for power at a time of unprecedented change. From backrooms to courtrooms, historian Gillian O’Brien deftly navigates the complexities of Irish Chicago, bringing to life a rich cast of characters and tracing the spectacular rise and fall of the secret Irish American society Clan na Gael. She draws on real-life accounts and sources from the United States, Ireland, and Britain to cast new light on Clan na Gael and reveal how Irish republicanism swept across the United States. Destined to be a true crime classic, Blood Runs Green is an enthralling tale of a murder that captivated the world and reverberated through society long after the coffin closed.

Our Impact Research Case Studies

Our historians produce research that is having impact beyond the world of academia, influencing pubic conversations, cultural interpretations and views of the past. Below are some of the Impact Case Studies, produced by LJMU History researchers, for the 2021 Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Emma Vickers - 'Dry Your Eyes Princess'

'Dry Your Eyes Princess' is an oral history/photography project that documents the experiences of trans veterans who served in the British Armed Forces after 1945. The research will feature in a peer reviewed article titled ‘Dry Your Eyes Princess’, oral testimonies, photography and co-creation in the journal Oral History, as part of a special LGBTQ-focused edition. The project has been featured in, amongst other places, in the Guardian, BBC, TES and in the Irish press. The 2015 exhibition in the Museum of Liverpool was viewed nearly 60,000 times, and the research has been shared widely at both academic conferences and public events in the United Kingdom, Portugal and Finland.

For more information, see the 'Dry Your Eyes Princess' website.

Gillian O'Brien - 'Presenting the Past: Creating Content for Historic Sites & Museums'

Spike Island

Over the past four years Dr Gillian O’Brien has been the historical consultant for three award-winning museums and heritage centres in Ireland – Fortress Spike Island Co. Cork, Nano Nagle Place, Cork and Kilmainham Gaol and Courthouse, Dublin. Her research expertise was used to inform the interpretation and display at these sites (which are visited by c.500,000 people annually). The underpinning research for these sites has been wildly acclaimed and there have been linked public presentations, op-ed articles and radio and newspaper interviews. In addition to museum development O’Brien has organised a series of workshops for museum and heritage professionals which have resulted in several open access reports, most notably ‘Inception, Development, Operation: A report on best practice for site-specific museums and heritage centres’.

Websites associate with this project:

Inception, Development, Operation Report

Nano Nagle Place

Spike Island

Kilmainham Gaol