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    United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am open to PhD applications in the fields of: - The British and Irish industrial city 1850-1930 - Urban poverty and welfare 1850-1930 - Public history and memory; heritage - Child and family welfare - Urban development and public health Irish landed estates and country houses


Research output per year

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Personal profile


Convenor, MA in Public History

HIS2011 Politics and Society in Nineteenth-Century Ireland

HIS2012 Politics and Society in Twentieth-Century Ireland

HIS3123 The Irish Country House and its Audiences

MHY7077 & MHY7091 Public History Internships

MHY7089  History and its Audiences


Research Interests

Dr Olwen Purdue specialises in the social and economic history of nineteenth and twentieth-century Ireland. Her research focuses on poverty, welfare and public health in the industrial city - she is currently working on the history of child welfare under the Irish Poor Law, exploring how its systems and processes reponded to the challenges of the rapidly-growing city of Belfast, and how poor families engaged with and experienced these processes. She has also worked on the history of landed estates in the north of Ireland from the end of the Famine until the onset of the Northern Troubles

Dr Purdue is also actively engaged in research and teaching in Public History, something she has been instrumental in introducing to Queen's University. She is founder and Director of the Centre for Public History, and of the MA in Public History. She works closely with the cultural and heritage sectors across Northern Ireland in research, teaching and public engagement. She was specialist historical advisor for Titanic Belfast and a member of the advisory group for the Ulster Museum's Irish history exhibition and its Troubles and Beyond gallery. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Irish Museums Association.

Dr Purdue is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, member of the Royal Historical Society's Public History Prize panel and judge for the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland's Medical Humanities Award. She is international editor for the Public Historian journal and series editor of Liverpool University Press's Nineteenth-Century Ireland series. She is President of the Society for the Study of Nineteenth Century Ireland.

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Research Output

‘A Gigantic System of Casual Pauperism’: the Contested Role of the Workhouse in Late Nineteenth-Century Belfast

Purdue, O., May 2014, The Welfare State and the 'Deviant Poor' in Europe, 1870-1933. Althammer, B., Gestrich, A. & Gründler, J. (eds.). Palgrave Macmillan, p. 42-57 16 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

Belfast, the emerging city: 1850-1914

Purdue, O. (ed.), Nov 2012, Dublin: Irish Academic Press. 304 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

  • Poverty and power: the Irish Poor Law in a north Antrim town 1861-1921

    Purdue, O., Nov 2011, In : Irish Historical Studies. 37, 148, p. 567-583 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Prizes

    Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

    Olwen Purdue (Recipient), 2017

    Prize: Election to learned society

    Irish Studies Fellowship

    Olwen Purdue (Recipient), 2009

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

  • QUB Teaching Award

    Olwen Purdue (Recipient), 03 Jul 2013

    Prize: Other distinction

  • Senior Research Fellowship

    Olwen Purdue (Recipient), 2015

    Prize: Fellowship awarded competitively

  • Vice Chancellor's Prize for Research Impact (shortlisted)

    Olwen Purdue (Recipient), 2017

    Prize: Prize (including medals and awards)


    External examiner, PhD Thesis

    Olwen Purdue (Examiner)
    13 May 2013

    Activity: Examination typesPhD external examination

    External examiner for PhD thesis

    Olwen Purdue (Examiner)
    10 Jan 2014

    Activity: Examination typesPhD external examination

    Historical Consultant for Ulster Rugby Museum

    Olwen Purdue (Advisor)

    Activity: Consultancy typesKTP & Consultancy in kind

    Research Seminar Paper, Boston College

    Olwen Purdue (Invited speaker)
    Sep 2013

    Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk

    Press / Media

    Belfast: Britain's most Victorian Town

    Olwen Purdue


    1 Media contribution

    Press/Media: Expert Comment


    Elite Women and Material Culture in Ireland, 1770-1840

    Author: Thorpe, R., 05 Jul 2018

    Supervisor: O'Dowd, M. (Supervisor) & Purdue, O. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy