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University history projects

As an important centre of academic research, The University of Manchester prides itself on the research of its members of staff, students and alumni. University History and Heritage seeks to promote the importance of historical research as well as the current projects being undertaken around the University.

Here are some projects relating to the history of the University.

Universities, the humanities and civic life, c.1880–1930

A pilot study of the Manchester School of History

Professor Stuart Jones and Dr Chris Godden

The University of Manchester – with its precursor, Owens College – was in many ways the prototype for civic universities in England. This seedcorn project uses our history department as a pilot to explore the shaping of the English university system and the academic profession.

In this period our School of History became the pre-eminent centre for historical studies outside Oxford and Cambridge. Researchers aim to examine the development of the School, its national importance in the development of historical research, and its role in the life of the University and local civic life. Using the rich resources of the University archive, including the papers of TF Tout (Professor of History, 1890–25) and his colleagues, the following areas were identified for specific research:

  1. The PhD and the development of the academic profession
  2. Women’s education and employment
  3. The university and civic culture
  4. Everyday life of the school and ‘family’ networks

Funded by the John Rylands Research Institute.

The history of the Simon and Hallsworth endowments

Dr Chris Godden

This project relates to the history and activities of the University of Manchester’s two largest endowments for social science research:

  • The Simon Research Fellowship – founded under the terms of a gift made by the Rt Hon. Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, Didsbury to The University of Manchester in 1944 for the promotion of research and teaching in the social sciences.
  • The Hallsworth Research Fund – established under the terms of a bequest by Professor HM Hallsworth to The University of Manchester in 1944 for the provision of research fellowships for advanced work in the field of Political Economy and Public Administration.

The work will detail the role of philanthropic giving, connected with these two institutions, within the history and sociology of the social sciences at the University. Looking beyond the local context, the project will consider the emergence and position of the Simon and Hallsworth endowments within the wider nexus of the social sciences, philanthropy, and post-war central government research funding.

Funded by the John Rylands Research Institute.

The metaphysics of Samuel Alexander

Dr Anthony Fisher

Samuel Alexander (1859–1938) was one of the leading figures of British philosophy of the early 20th century and was part of the rival of realism instigated by GE Moore and Bertrand Russell. Alexander constructed a realist metaphysical system that was presented in Space, Time and Deity (1920). He was Professor of Philosophy at Manchester from 1893 to 1924.

The goal of the project is to explicate Alexander’s metaphysics and his historical significance in 20th century philosophy. For instance, his work influenced CD Broad, John Laird, RW Sellars, AN Whitehead, John Anderson, DC Williams and many others. The project will make extensive use of The Samuel Alexander Papers at The John Rylands Library, which contain Alexander’s correspondence, unpublished manuscripts and notes.

Funded by the John Rylands Research Institute.

100 years of Deaf Education and Audiology at the University of Manchester 1919–2019

Dr Laura Dawes

The history of Deaf Education and Audiology at the University of Manchester was a project undertaken during 2014 at the request of Kevin J Munro, Ewing Professor of Audiology.

The work was carried out by Dr Laura Dawes, a historian of medicine and historical consultant with a particular interest in public health.

The project was generously funded by a donation from Hamish McAlpine and the Ewing Foundation.