Professor Nick Mansfield
Professor of History
School of Humanities, Language & Global Studies
Nick Mansfield is a labour historian who researches nineteenth and twentieth century British working-class history. His interests have covered artisans, farmworkers, patriotic labour in the Great War and post 1918 political allegiances, including ex-servicemen, war memorials and working-class conservatism. He recently published a 2 volume labour history of rank and file British army soldiers. Nick spent over 30 years working in museums, and also writes about material culture, especially historic banners, folk art and labour movement buildings.
Nick's current research role is part-time (0.4fte). Using his wide knowledge of British labour history and decades of museum experience – both in collections and in curating dozens of exhibitions – he is now writing a book on nineteenth-century labour visual culture. He is an experienced postgraduate supervisor with 6 PhDs and 4 MAs successfully completed and has examined 6 PhDs and welcomes further approaches. He currently hopes to establish a PhD studying the British Imperial War Graves workforce in France and Belgium between the wars. Nick teaches on the History MRes course and supervises postgraduates at other universities. Between August 2014 and December 2019, Nick was Co-Investigator of Everyday Lives in War, an AHRC funded University of Hertfordshire First World War Engagement Centre. The outreach work which he and his AHRC funded PhD student did during the First World War centenary was used as an exemplar. He founded and is still a mentor to the First World War Postgraduate and Early Career Researchers group, which has been awarded AHRC funding.
Externally Nick is a curatorial advisor to the Museum of Primitive Methodism, Englesea Brook, Cheshire, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum and member Advisory Board National Co-operative Archive and Honorary Research Fellow, at the People's History Museum, Manchester. He is a Mentor for the Museums Association Associate Scheme, which trains museum curators. He is a Visiting Professor at MMU and chair of their Friends of the Manchester Centre for Public History and Heritage and chair of the Kirkham Heritage Action Zone.
After 30 odd years in museums, Nick stepped down as Director of the People's History Museum, Manchester in 2010 and joined UCLan as a part time Senior Research Fellow and was made a Professor in 2019. Since 1979 Nick has authored over 50 book chapters and journal articles on artisans, common soldiers, servants, farmworkers, ex-servicemen, working class political allegiances, heritage, historic banners, folk art and buildings. Author of four monographs; English Farmworkers and local patriotism, 1900-1930 (Ashgate Press, 2001, reprinted Routledge, 2017), Buildings of the labour movement (English Heritage, 2013), and Soldiers as Workers – Class, employment, conflict and the nineteenth-century British military (Liverpool University Press, 2016), and Soldiers as Citizens Popular Politics and the Nineteenth-century military, (Liverpool University Press, 2019). He was co-editor of a special number on buildings of European labour movements, International Journal of Heritage Studies, 2013, and editor of the ‘Great War and the North West ‘ edition Manchester Region History Review, 2014 and (with Craig Horner) The Great War – Local and Regional Identities, (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014). Nick has given over one hundred academic conference papers since the late 1970s, in Canada, Finland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the USA, as well as in the UK. In addition, he has given very many talks to community groups and learned societies. His most recent have been: ‘Radical Ex-service organisations in the Great War and its Aftermath’, Global Link, ‘Dissenting Voices’ project, Lancaster, 23 January 2018 ‘Patriotism and Socialism: radical ex-servicemen, 1917-1923’, Political Radicalism and Dissent in the early 20th Century, Lancaster University conference, 17 November 2018 Speaker in Round Table Suffrage for Men after the War on Centenary of Representation of the People Act, at Houses of Parliament, organised by History of Parliament Trust, 21 November 2018 The Aftermath and Memorialisation of the First World War in Shropshire Victoria County History Shropshire lecture, 26 October 2019 The Story of the Secret Plumbers’ Marks on St Wilfrid’s Tower, Northenden, Manchester, UCLan Humanities Festival, 20 November 2019. Nick have wide media experience with many TV and radio appearances. Since 2010, he contributed to the BBC TV programmes Wartime Farm (2012), Canals- the Making of a Nation (2015), Who Do you Think You Are? (2018) and Civilisations (2018). He has been a speaker at high profile events such as the Burford Levellers Day (2013), Hay Festival (2014), the national Centenary of the Battle of the Somme at Heaton Park, Manchester (2016) and a History of Parliament Round Table at Westminster, on the Representation of the People Act (2018). His contribution to the First World War centenary was quoted by Tristram Hunt in a front-page article in The Observer, in 2014.
- BA (Hons) Politics and Modern History, Manchester University 2i, 1973
- B.Phil., Social Administration, University of Exeter, 1976
- Associate of the Museums Association (AMA), 1986
- PhD, ‘Agricultural trades unionism in Shropshire, 1900-1930’. University of Wolverhampton, 1997
- During a long museum career Nick was awarded dozens of prizes and grants from a variety of funders. His expert knowledge of historic banners was recognised by the award of Heritage Lottery funding for his leadership of the National Banner Survey, 1997-99. His career highlight was the award of a £14m. redevelopment at the People's History Museum in 2010, which received a Special Commendation in the European Museum of the Year
- Simon Research Fellowship Manchester University, 1999-2000
- His first book English farmworkers and local patriotism, 1900-1930, (Ashgate, 2001), was chosen by Michael Foot for The Observer Book of the Year feature and was reprinted by Routledge in 2016
- Co-Investigator of Everyday Lives in War, an AHRC fundedFirst World War Engagement Centre, 2014-2020
- Awarded 3 PhDs under AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Awards (2006-2014)
- Nick continues to mentor former post graduate students several of whom are pursuing PhDs or have been appointed to academic posts
- He is currently using expertise developed over a life time to write Emissaries of the Past: The Visual and Material Culture of Labour in the Long Nineteenth Century
- For the future Nick hopes to continue his writing around the First World War, with a commissioned article for the journal Rural History on ‘The Inter-war County Regiment and its place in rural society’, an article on John Ward MP (1866-1934) trade unionist and soldier, military cycling and the material culture of ex-service organisations
- On rural life Nick plans to write an entry for the Dictionary of Labour Biography on F.E. Green (1869-1921), countryside write and labour activist and has a long-held idea for a popular picture book on rural radicalism
- In addition, he hopes to use material not used in his 2 volume labour history of Nineteenth Century soldiers in articles on feigned illness, self-harm and suicide, the social ‘pecking order’ of regiments and the military radical Francis Macerone (1788-1846)
- Society for the Study of Labour History (past EC member)
- Interwar Rural History Group
- Society for Army Historical Research
- Worklab- International Association of labour museums (Secretary 2008-2012)
- Museums Association
- Nick has examined PhDs in 6 universities.
Nick has written the following blogs: ‘Connections Between Great Wars; 1793-1815, and 1914-1919’, Voices of War and Peace, Birmingham University Engagement Centre, 28 April 2015. Co-authored blog with Oli Wilkinson, ‘The Legacy of War Service: The Experiences of First World War Veterans’ AHRC Beyond the Trenches and Everyday Lives in War websites. 16 November 2016 ‘Foxhunters in khaki - foxhunting and the county Yeomanry during the First World War’, and Everyday Lives in War website. 30.12.16 ‘The Battle of the Somme and rural England’, for Heritage Lottery Fund. 1 July 2016. ‘Aspects of the Representation of the People Act, 1918’, AHRC Beyond the Trenches website. 13 April 2018 His 5 most recent publications are Mansfield, Nick, 'Allen Davenport of the Windsor Foresters; fencible trooper and political activist’, Journal of the Society for the Study of Army Historical Research, Summer 2020, Vol 97, Number, 392, 33-40. Mansfield, Nick (2019) Soldiers as Citizens Popular Politics and the Nineteenth-Century British Military. Studies in Labour History . Liverpool University Press, Liverpool. ISBN 978 1 78962 086 3 Mansfield, Nick (2018) Stubbs, Albert Ernest (1877-1962), trade unionist, local politician and Labour MP. In: The Dictionary of Labour Biography. Palgrave Macmillan, London, pp. 1-20. ISBN 978-1-137-45742-4 Mansfield, Nick (2016) Soldiers as Workers – Class, employment, conflict and the nineteenth century military. Studies in Labour History . Liverpool University Press, Liverpool. ISBN 9781781382783 Mansfield, Nick (2014) The Great War, Localities and Regional Identities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle upon Tyne. ISBN 1-4438-5652-5
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- Numerous museums grants. Since 2010: AHRC CDA ‘Patriotic labour in the era of the Great War’, c. £60,000, 2012-14 Author of Impact Case Study, ‘Co-operation, voters and reform – a partnership for two capital museum and archive projects, UCLan, 2014. Contained support letters Andy Burnham, Tristram Hunt, Steve Broomhead (NWDA) and Katy Archer (PHM), resulting in REF allocation. From August 2014 to December 2019 the AHRC via University of Hertfordshire is contributing 0.1 of my post, through my role as CI of Everyday Lives in War, plus a budget of £11,000, making £36,000 in all. Assistance to History colleagues in obtaining other grant (See Letter for details.) e.g. An HLF grant of £49,000 to fund the Demon Drink Temperance exhibition at the People’s History Museum in 2012 and an AHRC Joint Research grant via the University of Hertfordshire for the Harris Institute at War project. This fed into the recent UCLan official history.
- Since 2010 Nick has given 21 conference papers with highlights:
- Key Note, ‘Never the same again or Business as usual’, The Great War; localities and regional identities joint conference MMU/UCLan NM 20 June 2012
- ‘Unlikely resisters – common soldiers and class conflict in the nineteenth century’, New Approaches to the history of popular protest conference, University of Gloucestershire, 2 March 2013
- Key Note ’Celebrating and recording our radical history’, Levellers Day, WEA, Burford, 18 May 2013
- ‘Buildings of the labour movement’, Hay Festival, 2 May 2014
- ‘Farmworkers, Food and Politics, 1914-1923’, 83rd Anglo-American Historians conference; The Great War at Home, and organised, convened and chaired the panel ‘Labour and the Great War’, 4.July 2014
- Key Note ‘Sites of rural labour – places, buildings and people, 1830-1930’,Agricultural History Society Spring conference,4 April 2016
- ‘The Battle of the Somme and rural England, farming, farmworkers and food’, national Somme 100 event, Heaton Park, Manchester, 1 July 2016
- Key Note ‘Radical Ex-service organisations in the Great War and its Aftermath’, Global Link, ‘Dissenting Voices’ project, Lancaster, 23 January 2018
- Speaker in Round Table Suffrage for Men after the War on Centenary of Representation of the People Act, at Houses of Parliament organised by Nichola Luke of History of Parliament Trust, 21 November 2018
- He organised the following UCLan conferences:
- Organised key note presentation by Tony Benn, for The British Labour Movement and Imperialism, April 2008 and subsequently organised his Foreword to the edited volume of the conference papers in Billy Frank, Craig Horner and David Stewart (eds.) The British Labour Movement and Imperialism, (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2010).
- Organised visit of Billy Bragg with his Bill of Rights Roadshow, April 2008.
- Co-organised joint UCLan/MMU conference The Great War; Localities and Regional Identities, 20 June 2012.I edited 2 volumes produced from the papers; the centenary Great War edition of Manchester Region History Review (2014) and The Great War, Localities and Regional Identities, (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014)
- Co-organised Whose history is it anyway? ‘Public’ history in perspective Public History conference on 5/6 September 2013, for which I secured Tristram Hunt (the Shadow Education Secretary) as key note speaker, whose lecture was attended by the Vice Chancellor.
- Organised day conference Ex-Service organisations in the Great War and its aftermath in partnership with the People’s History Museum and the Royal British Legion on 31 January 2015.(Papers from the day have been published in an volume by Routledge, edited by my former AHRC CDA PhD student David Swift.)
- Co-organised 2 day international conference The First World War: Commemoration and Memory, with the AHRC funded First World War Post Graduate/Early Career Network, at
- the Imperial War Museum North. 26 and 27 February 2016. I secured Keynote speaker Professor Jay Winter (Yale University).
- Co-organised and funded day conference The Easter Rising and the North West, September 2016
- Co-organised and part funded day. Reappraising the Representation of the People Act, 1918, September 2018.
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