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JULY 2016: Voluntary Action History Society 25th Annual Conference
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7/13/2016 to 7/15/2016
When: 7/13/2016

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Voluntary Action History Society 25th Anniversary Conference: Thinking about the Past; Thinking about the Future

13-15 July 2016

University of Liverpool


Registration now open


VAHS is pleased to announce that the registration for our 25th Anniversary Conference is now open.


Overview of the conference:


We are delighted to welcome Frank Prochaska as our keynote speaker. Based at Oxford University, Frank has written a number of ground-breaking studies on women and philanthropy, Christianity and social service, charity and citizenship and the charitable activities of the monarchy and is an independent and acerbic commentator on contemporary social policy. He is a long-time friend and supporter of VAHS and presented a paper at our first seminar in 1991.


Over three days there will be a series of papers, specialist panels and an innovative workshop on archives and archival research. There will also be an evening walkabout led by John Lansley, long-time commentator on the voluntary sector in Liverpool; a fiendishly difficult voluntary action quiz; an excursion to Port Sunlight, the model village, established in 1888 by Lever Brothers (now part of Unilever) to house workers in its soap factory; and a conference dinner with jazz band held in the University’s iconic Victoria Gallery and Museum. The conference will close with a plenary session which will review the current state of our field and challenges to its future.


The conference will provide an opportunity for researchers from different backgrounds, different disciplines and different countries to share knowledge of sources, methodologies and findings of research on voluntary action. It will also provide an opportunity for socialising with other delegates in an open and friendly environment.


The programme:


The programme will cover diverse aspects of voluntary action including:


  • Local voluntary action and campaigning
  • Voluntary action in an international setting
  • The use of archives in the history of voluntary action
  • Scope, methods and motivations for individual philanthropy
  • Methods of fundraising in different contexts
  • Idealism and professionalism in voluntary action
  • Tensions within voluntary action (local v national organisations, centralised v branch organisations, voluntary organisations  v government bodies).


See the conference programme:


The Conference venue


VAHS has a long and happy association with Liverpool, the venue for its international conferences in 2001 and 2008, when Liverpool was European Capital of Culture. This city, once a great port for global trade, was one of the drivers of the Industrial Revolution and is now a leader in urban regeneration. It also made a substantial contribution to the development of voluntary social service – for example, the Victoria Women’s Settlement, opened in 1898; Liverpool University’s School of Social Science, which worked with the Settlement to test theories of voluntary action practice; and Liverpool Council of Voluntary Aid, founded in 1909. The city is home to magnificent civic architecture, fine art galleries and the Mersey Beat. There will be a number of papers at the conference which feature voluntary action in Liverpool.




Accommodation for the conference will be in Vine Court, a recently-built hall of residence in the main campus. All rooms are en suite and have small double beds. Conference activities will take place in the nearby Rendall Building. See map of the campus:


For members of VAHS

Full residential package includesattendance at the conference on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (13-15 July); accommodation on Wednesday and Thursday nights; breakfast on Thursday and Friday; lunch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; dinner on Wednesday and Thursday (the drinks reception and conference dinner); daytime refreshments; and excursions


Non-residential package includesattendance at the conference on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (13-15 July); lunch on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; daytime refreshments; and excursions.



For non-members of VAHS

Full residential package (as above)


Non-residential package (as above)


Drinks party and conference dinner (Thursday) supplement for non-residential delegates



Non-members may wish to join VAHS before booking in order to be eligible for reduced members’ rates; if so go to

Fully waged


Unwaged (including students/retired/unemployed



For both members and non-members of VAHS

Late booking fee after 1 June 2016


Extra night B & B before conference, 12 July 2016


Extra night B & B after conference, 15 July 2016


Supplement B & B for guest (double occupancy), 12-15 July 2016 (per night)



Booking form:


To book go to:


Contact us:


For information about the conference programme e-mail:

For information about booking and other administrative issues e-mail



We are pleased to announce that the Voluntary Action History Society’s 25th Anniversary Conference will take place at the University of Liverpool between 13th and 15th July 2016.


 We are looking for papers which will provide insights into the development of voluntary action history in the past twenty-five years and address the challenges it faces in the future.

 We are looking for papers which:

approach voluntary action history from local, national, international and transnational perspectives

·    explore subjects  in a range of time periods, from the Middle Ages (or earlier) to the near-history 

     of the twenty-first century

·    make use of a variety of methodologies, both traditional and innovative

·    are accessible to a broad audience of practitioners, activists, amateurs and academics

 and which deal with subjects such as the following:

 ·  archival research: issues of preservation and access

·   bad behaviour and the dark side

·   expressive behaviours

·   leisure

·   the moving frontier between state and voluntary action

·   organisational development and management

·   philanthropy, mutual aid and self-help

·   social justice and social change

·   teaching voluntary action history.

 This list is indicative: we are open to proposals dealing with topics not listed above.

 Prize for New Researchers

We will award a prize for the best paper presented by a new researcher - a graduate student, a postdoctoral researcher (within 3 years of degree) or an unpublished independent researcher. Please note that to be considered for the prize candidates must submit a copy of their full paper by 30 June 2016.

Submitting an abstract

If you would like to propose a paper, please submit an abstract of around 300 words and a brief biography by e-mail to no later than 31 December 2015.

We will be happy to consider proposals for panels of up to four papers on a similar subject, although if this is your intention, please submit an abstract for each of the proposed papers.

If you have any queries or if you wish to discuss a proposed paper’s suitability, please e-mail Meta Zimmeck at

Attending the event

Booking will open once the programme is finalised. Please note that all speakers must register for the conference.

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