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Dr Jennifer Crane

photo   Office:
H449, fourth floor of the Humanities Building Extension
024 76573938, internal extension 73938

I am a social and cultural historian of medicine interested in activism and voluntary action, social policy construction, health, expertise, experience, and childhood in twentieth century Britain. I am passionate about using rigorous research to engage with policymakers, practitioners, charities, and members of the public.


  • 2016-2018: Public Engagement Research Fellow, 'The Cultural History of the NHS'
    - Research campaigning around the NHS, thinking about what drives the shift from proclaimed 'love' for this institution towards political action, and the cases in which such activism has, and has not, affected change.
    - Jointly responsible (with Natalie Jones) for managing the public engagement activities of the project, and have organised collaborative events with hospitals, museums, retirement homes, patient groups, and activist groups. I have written popular articles, for example on comedy and the NHS for History Today, and maintain our public-facing project website.
    - Co-organiser, with Margaret Charleroy, of a policy conference about institutional diet and nutrition. Funded by Warwick Food GRP and the Centre for the History of Medicine, on 21st April 2017 this event will bring together historians with representatives from prisons, hospitals, campaign groups, and community organisations to discuss the politics of food over time.
    - Seminar tutor on the undergraduate module, Cultural History of the NHS, and on the Masters-level module, Matters of Life and Death.

    I also co-organise two other projects, which extend on work from my doctoral thesis:
    - Co-convenor of the History & Policy Forum on Parenting, which involves organising events to place historians and practitioners together, and the organisation of a blog.
    - Research project with Eve Colpus about the history and future of ChildLine. We organised a seminar at BT Tower in June 2016, featuring historians and contemporary witnesses including Dame Esther Rantzen, the founder of ChildLine, and Anne Longfield, the current Children's Commissioner. The event was funded by the Wellcome Trust and the University of Southampton, and was subsequently covered in the Guardian; and also, by my co-organiser and myself, on a History & Policy blog, and for the Conversation, the Independent, and Schools Improvement. We are depositing the transcript from this event at the Modern Records Centre, Coventry, and have co-written a policy brief to be circulated to participants and stakeholders.

  • Autumn-Winter 2015: Wellcome Trust Research Fellow at Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology 
    - Conducted literature reviews and interviewed external stakeholders to write a policy briefing about Electronic Health Records, which has been distributed to all MPs and Peers.
    - Undertook research for potential future briefs about child protection, conflicts of interest in science, and the gambling industry.
    - I subsequently wrote a blog about this experience for Historians in Residence.


  • 2012-2015: PhD in History, University of Warwick
    - My thesis, The Expertise of Experience: Child Abuse and Voluntary Action, 1970-2015, was successfully examined by Professor Pat Thane and Professor Roberta Bivins in December 2015. It was funded by a Wellcome Trust Doctoral Studentship.

    While writing my thesis, I also held many other responsibilities:
    - Seminar Tutor on undergraduate module Britain in the Twentieth Century: Narrating the Nation.
    - Assistant Research Volunteer for two plays, 'Trade in Lunacy' and 'A Malady of Migration', which explored mental health and migration in the 18th and 19th centuries. I conducted research to guide the script, and wrote accessible pieces about this research for audiences members.
    - Community interviewer for the oral history project 'Voices of the University: Memories of Warwick 1965-2015'.
    - Co-organiser of conference ''Made Up People': Labelling and the Construction of People in Post-War History', with Claire Sewell. Conference was funded by a Wellcome Trust small grant, and our keynote speaker was Professor Ian Hacking.
    - Co-organiser with Thomas Bray of Monash University-University of Warwick Webinar Series on Social Sciences, Humanities, and Medicine.

  • Spring 2015: Warwick Transatlantic Fellow at Yale University
    - Gained competitive grant from Humanitites Research Centre to visit Yale University, where I conducted archival work about child protection, and presented papers to and worked with, researchers from the University’s Violence and Health Group and Research Initiative on the History of Sexualities.

  • 2011-2012: MA in History (Distinction), University of Warwick
    - Funded by Warwick History Department, wrote thesis entitled: ‘Luggage Label People’: Experiences of Childhood Evacuation, 1939-Present’.

  • 2008-2011: BA in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (First Class), University of Oxford
    - Scholarships for academic excellence awarded in 2009 and 2010.

Selected Publications

  • 'Painful Times: The Emergence and Campaigning of Parents Against Injustice in 1980s and 1990s Britain', Twentieth Century British History (2015), 26 (3), pp. 450-476.

  • ''The bones tell a story the child is too young or too frightened to tell': The Battered Child Syndrome in Post-war Britain and America', Social History of Medicine (2015), 28 (4), pp. 767-788.

  • Review of 'The Changing Faces of Childhood Cancer: Clinical and Cultural Visions since 1940' by Emm Barnes Johnstone with Joanna Baines, Medical History, 60 (3), pp. 424-5.
  • 'Review of 'The Story of Pain: From Prayer to Painkillers' by Joanna Bourke', Reviews in History, 25 September 2014.

Selected Conference Papers

- Co-organised workshop on 'Public Engagement Experts: Mapping the researcher/professional landscape', ENGAGE 2016: Conference of the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement, 29 November 2016
- 'Engaging the Public on a Large Scale Group Project', Institute for Historical Research, 29 September 2016.
- 'Localising the National Health Service', People's History Museum, Manchester, 11 August 2016
- 'Where is the child in the history of child abuse?', Oxford University History of Childhood Seminar Series, 17 February 2016.
- 'Families, voluntary organisations, and social policy formation', The Quest for Welfare and Democracy: Voluntary associations, families and the State, 1880s-1990s, European University Institute, Florence, 10 February 2016.
- '"survivors . . .must be at the heart of this process": Small Voluntary Organisations and the Politics of Experience',Rethinking Contemporary British Political History, Queen Mary's University of London, 7-8 September 2015.
- ''The bones tell a story the child is too young or too frightened to tell': The Battered Child Syndrome in Post-War Britain and America', Yale University Violence and Health Student Working Group, Yale University, 3 February 2015.
- 'Silence, Survivor Organisations and Cultural Denial in Post-War Britain', Limits to Privacy: Secrecy, Surveillance and Everyday Gatekeeping Over the Past 100 Years, University of Southampton, 10-11 September 2014.
- 'Children's Rights in 1970s and 1980s Britain', History and Policy Parenting Forum: Learning from Past Social Policy, University of Warwick, 14 July 2014.
- 'Governing Childhood: The State and Child-Rearing in 1970s Britain', Society for the Social History of Medicine, University of Oxford, 10-12 July 2014.
- 'The Emergence of a 'Survivors' Community' and its Influence in Social Policy', History and Cultures Workshop, University of Birmingham, 8 May 2014.