Making History Together: The UK’s National Health Service and the story of our lives since 1948

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Abstract

Only since the 2010s have historians become interested in dimensions of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) histories beyond institutional, policy, and political narratives and the seventieth anniversary of the Service in 2018 gave additional impetus to work in this area. This paper argues for the need for a new interpretative framework for NHS histories that better reflects its multiple identities and social meanings. Drawing on a UK-wide programme of work it explores the processes of creating digital archive of NHS history using concepts and methodologies that foreground the institution’s social and dynamic nature and are underpinned by a commitment to inclusivity of perspectives and actors. It considers the challenges of working across academic, health, and heritage sectors and the need for historians to adapt to sharing power and agency when working alongside volunteers and interviewees. It concludes that the history produced through these ways of working is rich and insightful and has the potential to reshape historical practice and scholarship around NHS histories and beyond.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary British History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 11 Feb 2022