A Creative Approach
In 2015 I completed my thesis "Creating Childhoods Ideas of School and Child in London 1870-1914." This was the first comprehensive examination of how London's elementary schools developed and how they perceived the children within, generating critical questions about how and why we 'classify' ability and disability. It had begun, however, as an investigation into how children were treated in the WW1, after I chansed upon the admission and discharge records for a group of school children following an zepplin raid. As I searched in vain for any material that might tell me more, I re-traced the diverse social, physical and intellectual landscapes of London and its children. I never found out what happened in that raid, but through architectural plans, logbooks, interviews, timetables, class photos, council minutes and exercise books I had discovered an evolving education system, one in which perceptions of a child's ability were in constant flux.
I am happy writing for academic and non-academic audiences. I have created photo-essays for History Workshop Journal, written research pieces for The British Library, produced activity packs for the Mayor of London and more recently had my top 5 forgotten heroines of London published in the Londonist . I have also been invited to present papers to healthcare professionals and the public, about mental health and diabetes.
This blog was developed during my sabatical having finished my PhD, where I explored planting seeds of the physical and metaphorical kind to see what would grow.
While researching my thesis, I blogged about the history of schools, London and disability and the experience of studying for a PhD on my Tumblr The Historical Slate.
Two weeks after my fifteenth birthday I was diagnosed with Type One Diabetes. To explore the emotional, physical and historical impact of the disease I produced a blog that was named after the sugar levels people with the condition are constantly expected to strive for.
Praise and awards for Creating Childhoods
'Imogen has mastered the material beautifully; individuals and their methods spring off the page.'
Professor Sally Alexander co-founder of History Workshop Journal
'Congratulations to Imogen Lee for producing new knowledge about one of the most important projects of Victorian society: the compulsory rate-funded education of vast numbers of poor London children. Her attention to materiality, ideology, politics and experience of the school board classroom and its human dynamics enrich our understanding of this ambitious enterprise.'
Professor Seth Koven, author of Slumming
My PhD was made possible thanks to the support of the AHRC and IHR Research fellowships
I have more than a decade's worth of experience in archival research. In 2006 I was commissioned by Jerwood Space to write a history of the site, from the 1400s through to the present day. Since then I have continued to work on social and cultural history projects, with a particular interest in the history of Nineteenth Century London. I have worked as a Research Assistant for the award-winning historian Ellen Ross and as a Development Researcher for the BBC. My approach to the archive has ensured the discovery of unique and vital histories; from the story of Orange Street school at Jerwood Space where I uncovered the story of Mrs Burgwin, the working-class head teacher who rose to national prominence by pioneering school dinners, teachers' pensions and special schools; to the detailing of verbatim interviews with juvenile offenders in the early Nineteenth Century that shaped developing research for the BBC's The Secret History of My Family.
I have extensive experience of using Britain's national archives, specialist libraries and museums and I am available for research and consultation. Please contact me here.
Teaching and Lecturing
I have worked in the museum, senior and further education sectors. Between 2010-11 I worked closely with curator Becky Gilmore to successfully convene Goldsmiths College's London History course, where museum, archive and open-air visits were a central feature. I continue to work intermittently with Jerwood Space for London's Open House weekend, providing historical insight and tailored resources for their public tours.