Introducing 'Our Century'

2021 marks the centenary of the Institute of Historical Research. For 100 years the Institute of Historical Research has been thinking back and looking forward. In our centenary year, the IHR presents ‘Our Century’ – an exploration, celebration and reappraisal of history’s past, present and future.   

From July 2021-July 2022 the IHR celebrated the discipline and practice of history in its many forms and wherever it’s found:  promoting  the value and power of historical thinking; celebrating diverse histories from our previous century; and looking ahead to history’s future in the coming century.   


The IHR in July 1921: opening ceremony

The opening ceremony for the Institute of Historical Research took place on 8 July 1921. Guest of honour was H.A.L. Fisher, Minister for the Board of Education.

The IHR's location was carefully chosen

The IHR's founders wanted a central London location to allow UK and international visitors easy access to the British Museum (Library) and Public Record Office.

The IHR's premises in 1921

The IHR's first home was a single-storey prefabricated 'hut' on Malet Street, Bloomsbury, close to its present location in Senate House, University of London.

The interior of the IHR, 1921

Detailed plans show the layout of the IHR in 1921. Library rooms were reserved for specific subject areas and seminars took place within library rooms.

Origins of the IHR

A.F. Pollard and others had discussed plans for a centre of 'advanced historical studies' since the early 1900s. The IHR went by several names pre-1921.

The nation's 'history laboratory'

Promotional literature from before and after 1921 stressed the IHR as a place of new and experimental work. The language of science was regularly employed.

Historical thinking in 1921 and 2021

There are many parallels between the work and aims of the IHR in 1921 and 2021, as this recent magazine article makes clear (see page 34).