The laboratory for 'scientific history': T. W. Moody and R. D. Edwards at the Institute of Historical Research

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The point of origin of the ‘Irish historiographical revolution’ initiated by T. W. Moody and R. D. Edwards in the 1930s, which issued, among other things, in the foundation of Irish Historical Studies, is customarily located in their experiences together as research students in London University’s Institute of Historical Research. Hitherto, we have known little or nothing of those experiences beyond the recollections of the two principals themselves. This article uses the Institute’s own archive, and other contemporary documentary evidence, including surviving letters from Moody to Edwards, to elucidate the precise influence of the Institute and its staff in moulding their outlook. Rather than asserting some form of ideological indoctrination – for example in propagating an ethos of ‘value-free’ history writing – it argues that what was important was the example of the Institute’s institutional structures (including its Bulletin), which Moody and Edwards determined to replicate in Ireland; and that these structures, emphasising collaboration between historical researchers in pursuit of a common purpose, were themselves of the first importance in influencing the aspiration to create an Irish history free from confessional bias and overt expressions of political prejudice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)41-57
Number of pages17
JournalIrish Historical Studies
Issue number159
Publication statusPublished - 01 May 2017


  • Historiography
  • Institute of Historical Research
  • Ireland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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