Elaine Farrell


  • Room 03.002 - 15 University Square

    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of: - Nineteenth-century social history - Crime history - Women’s history


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research Focus

I am a social historian of nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Ireland, with a particular interest in crime history, and women’s and gender history. I took up a permanent post in History at Queen’s in 2012, where I am now a senior lecturer. Before this, I was an Irish Research Council Fellow at University College Dublin. My first monograph, A most diabolical deed’: Infanticide and Irish society, 1850-1900 (Manchester University Press, 2013), won the National University of Ireland Publication Prize in Irish History, 2015. My second monograph was published in 2020, Women, crime and punishment in Ireland: Life in the nineteenth-century convict prison (Cambridge University Press). My research has focused on women’s crime and imprisonment; Irish women’s migration; motherhood; infanticide; convict tattoos; and women during the First World War. I have delivered talks on my research in Ireland and the UK, Finland, the US (Charleston, Chicago, Nashville, New York, and New Orleans), Indonesia, and China. I was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 2015 and appointed Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy in 2020. I was Distinguished Research Fellow in Irish Studies at the College of Charleston, South Carolina, in 2019-20 and went on a staff exchange to Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, in 2014.

With Leanne McCormick (Ulster University), I lead the Bad Bridget project, which examines criminal and deviant Irish women in North America, 1838-1918. A 5-part podcast series, produced in 2019, is available here. The Bad Bridget project has also featured in the Irish Times, The Guardian, the Daily Mail, the Irish News, The Conversation and other local newspapers (links are available here).

I am also currently researching rumour, gossip and surveillance in nineteenth-century Ireland.

I studied at University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast. I also hold a postgraduate diploma in museum studies from University of Leicester (2017) and have been involved in different ways in a number of museum exhibitions, including ‘Mad or Bad?’ at the Armagh County Museum. I am currently editorial board member for Irish Historical Studies. I also serve on the board of Childhood in the Past, and the Ulster Historical Foundation. I am Treasurer of the Women’s History Association of Ireland, and Treasurer of the Ulster Society for Irish Historical Studies, and a member of the Society for the Study of Nineteenth-Century Ireland; the Women’s History Network; the International Federation for Research in Women’s History; and the Irish Association of Professional Historians.




Edited source collections

Edited volumes

Select articles and chapters

  • War within and without: Irish women in the First World War era’, Women’s History Review, 27, no. 3 (2018), pp 329-42, co-authored with Jennifer Redmond
  • ‘Interrogating the charge of concealment of birth in nineteenth-century Irish courts’ in Niamh Howlin and Kevin Costello (eds), Law and the family in Ireland, 1800-1950 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017)
  • ‘“Poor prison flowers”: convict mothers and their children in Ireland, 1853–1900’, Social History, 41, no. 2 (2016), pp 171-91.
  • ‘“The salvation of them”: emigration to North America from the nineteenth-century Irish women’s convict prison’, Women’s History Review, 25, no. 4(2016), pp 619-37.
  • ‘“Having an immoral conversation” and other prison offenses: the punishment of convict women’ in C. Brophy and C. Delay (eds), Women, Reform, and Resistance in Ireland, 1850-1950 (Palgrave MacMillan, New York, 2015), pp 101-18.
  • ‘“Indelible characters”: tattoos, power and the late nineteenth-century Irish convict body’, Cultural and Social History, vol. 12, no. 2 (2015), pp 235-54, co-authored with Ciara Breathnach
  • ‘“Moved and seduced by the instigation of the devil”: an infant murder in County Roscommon’ in Lucy Frost and Alice Meredith Hodgson (eds), Convict lives at the Launceston Female Factory (Hobart, Tasmania, 2013), pp 75-82.
  • ‘“All the scholars were speaking about it”: children in the Irish Crown records’ in Irish Archives, x (2013), pp 26-37.
  • ‘“Infanticide of the ordinary character”: an overview of the crime in Ireland, 1850-1900’ in Irish Economic and Social History, xxxix (2012), pp 56-72.   
  • ‘“The fellow said it was not harm and only tricks”: the father in suspected cases of infanticide in Ireland, 1850-1900’ in Journal of Social History (2012), pp 990-1004.
  • ‘A very immoral establishment’: the crime of infanticide and class status’ in Elaine Farrell (ed.), She said she was in the family way’: pregnancy and infancy in Modern Ireland (London, 2012), pp 205-22.



I teaching undergraduate and postgraduate students at Queen’s University Belfast and have won or been shortlisted for a several teaching prizes. I also regularly supervise BA and MA dissertations.


Taught modules include:

HIS1002 Deviant Moments in Britain and Ireland, c.1700-1900

HIS2067 Cabinets of Curiosity: Museums Past and Present

HIS3118 Crime and Punishment in Nineteenth-Century Ireland


I also contribute to modules:

MHY7090 Pathways through History

MHY7082 Topics in Irish History


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