The North East England History Institute (NEEHI) was established in 1995 by the five north-east universities (Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside) in association with other partners, including the Open University and Beamish Museum.
Between 2000 and 2005, it was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council with a grant of £850,000 to form a research centre devoted to the history of north eastern England.
That research agenda is producing a torrent of publications on all periods and aspects of our region’s history published by the Boydell Press in NEEHI’s Regions and Regionalism Series as well as in associated volumes.
To date there are nine books already published with two more on their way through the press and more at various stages of preparation. This includes the multi-authored volume which brings together all the research arising out of the AHRC Centre to be launched at an event later this year and to which all NEEHI members will be invited. In addition, the proceedings of NEEHI’s major international symposium, held in 2004, were published in January 2008 by Northumbria University Press as, An Agenda for Regional History.
As NEEHI moves into its next phase it is forging links with other regional centres throughout Britain and in other countries to develop an innovative programme of comparative regional studies.
The broader NEEHI membership has benefited from this increased activity, which has provided a useful interface between advanced historical research and the wider regional public. Numerous conferences and events – ranging from lecture series to regional local history congresses and from highly popular conferences to book launch events – have attracted large numbers of participants.
In 2007 we launched a regular public lecture series which was inaugurated by Professor David Rollason (University of Durham) on “Shaping the North-East’s Past: Medieval Durham Historians” at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle followed by Professor Tony Pollard (University of Teesside) on “Region, Locality and Identity: the Place of the Tees valley in History’ at the Dorman Museum in Middlesbrough.
The series continues in 2008 with Dr Win Stokes on “North East Speculators Capitalists and Entrepreneurs in the Railway Age” at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle, Dr Barry Doyle (University of Huddersfield) on ‘River of Metal: Iron and Steel Making along the Tees, 1840-1980’ at the Dorman Museum in Middlesbrough, and Professor Emeritus Tony Goodman (University of Edinburgh) on ‘”Angels of the North?” Clergymen, nuns and merchants in medieval Newcastle’ at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle.
We have also instigated a Visiting Fellowship which is currently held by Professor Keith Wrightson (University of Yale) who will contribute to the lecture series this summer, talking about the plague in Newcastle in the 1630s.
In 2005 the NEEHI office relocated to Bolbec Hall in the Lit and Phil/Mining Institute complex on Westgate Road in Newcastle. NEEHI is working in partnership with the Literary & Philosophical Society and the North-East Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers in Newcastle in order to establish a new regional cultural and research institution. This had introduced a significant opportunity for future development as we are sharing premises with two of the region’s finest archival treasure-houses.