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Staff Profile

Dr Alice Brumby


Profile image of Alice Brumby

I completed my AHRC-funded PhD at the University of Huddersfield in 2015, having previously studied there for my PGCE in Lifelong Learning and my BA Hons in English Literature and History. I have published work in First World War Studies and History Today amongst other publications.

My recent research has focused upon nineteenth and twentieth century mental health care and patient welfare in England. My work examines the role of the community, families and patients with regards to accessing care and treatment. My PhD examined attempts to reform asylum treatment and to try to eradicate the stigma attached to mental health care.

This work has contributed to a programme of public engagement and co-production. I have co-curated several exhibitions on the medical impact of war and shell shock to coincide with the Centenary of the First World War, at the Thackray Medical Museum in Leeds, the York Army Museum and also in connection with the medical museums in Worcestershire.

I am particularly interested in working to promote social justice, and have worked with local and national charities. This includes English Heritage’s ‘Shout Out Loud’ programme and working with organisations linked to mental health (Rethink Mental Illness) and veteran’s charities (The League of Remembrance).


I currently teach on the History, American Studies and War Studies programmes, teaching a range of undergraduate and postgraduate modules. I also teach on the Liberal Arts Foundation Year.

I would be interested in supervising anybody who has an interest in pursuing a research degree in mental health studies, the social and cultural history of the First World War, or oral history projects.


My recent research has focused upon nineteenth and twentieth century mental health care and patient welfare in England. My work examines the role of the community, families and patients with regards to accessing care and treatment. I have published work on the institutionalised ex-servicemen and the role of charities in helping both service users and their families.

I am interested in the role of archives and oral histories in generating knowledge and capturing personal narratives of lived experiences. I am currently working on a project linked to the Mental Treatment Act of 1930.

Publications, conferences and public engagement


Alice Brumby, ‘The National Schizophrenia Fellowship: Charity, Caregiving and Strategies of Coping, 1960-1980,’ in Healthy Minds in the Twentieth Century: In and Beyond the Asylum, eds. Steven J. Taylor and Alice Brumby (Palgrave Macmillan, Forthcoming).

Steven J. Taylor and Alice Brumby, ‘Introduction to Healthy Minds: Mental Health Practice and Perception in the Twentieth Century,’ in Healthy Minds in the Twentieth Century: In and Beyond the Asylum, eds. Steven J. Taylor and Alice Brumby (Palgrave Macmillan, Forthcoming).

Alice Brumby, ‘Tommy Talk: War Hospital Magazines and the Cartoons of Resilience and Healing,’ in The Palgrave Handbook of Artistic and Cultural Response to War since 1914: The British Isles, the United States and Australasia, Ed. Martin Kerby, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).

Alice Brumby, ‘When the Men Came Marching Home,’ History Today, 68:11, (2018), 36-47.

Alice Brumby, ‘Review of Borsay, Anne; Dale, Pamela, eds., Mental Health Nursing: The Working Lives of Paid Carers in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,’ H-Disability, H-Net Reviews, (2018)

Alice Brumby, ‘Worcester’s Wounded: Medicine and Hospital Treatment in the First World War,’ (GMMM and The Hive: Worcester, 2017) 1-14.

Alice Brumby, ‘”A Painful and Disagreeable Position”: Rediscovering Patient Narratives and Evaluating the Difference between Policy and Experience for Institutionalized Veterans with Mental Disabilities, 1924–1931,’ First World War Studies, 6:1, (2015), 37-55, DOI: 10.1080/19475020.2015.1047891.

Conference papers and talks given

Charles University, Prague, ‘A Great Landmark in the History of Legislation? Reassessing the Mental Treatment Act, 1930-1938.’ Conference paper delivered at the Healthcare before Welfare States Workshop 8-9th March 2018.

University of Edinburgh, ‘Tommy Talk: War Hospital Magazines and the cartoons of identity, resilience and healing.’ Conference paper delivered at the What the Tommy Did Next Symposium. 18 March 2017.

Liverpool Medical Institute, ‘Retelling the Hidden Stories of Institutionalised Shell-Shocked Veterans.’ Public-facing talk delivered as part of the Hidden Stories of War Public Lecture Series. 9 February 2016.

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Ypres, Belgium, “Disorientated in Time, Space and Identity:” Understanding the Experience of Institutionalisation as told by the Mentally Disabled War Veterans in Post-War Yorkshire, 1924-1931.’ Conference paper delivered at the Commemorating the Disabled Soldier Conference. 4-6 November 2014.

University of Brighton, ‘The Problem of the Feeble-Minded: The Demonization and Exclusion of the Mentally Deficient in British Society, 1910-1934.’ Conference paper delivered at the Social History Society Conference. 3-5 April 2012.

University of Glamorgan, ‘Madwomen Beyond the Attic.’ Conference paper delivered at a two day conference on Medicine at the Margins, an AHRC sponsored conference. 15 April 2011.

Professional activities

I am committed to both social justice and public engagement and as such I am interested in using my research to inform the public.

I have had two guest appearances on the BBC Series Who Do You Think You Are? My first with David Walliams (first televised on 19/10/2020) and the second will be shown later in 2022.

I am interested in working with local and national charities on partnerships linked to Veteran’s care, mental health and oral histories. Each of these partnerships have involved working with different communities. In the past, I have worked with Rethink Mental Illness, English Heritage’s ‘Shout Out Loud’ Programme and Converge. 2022 sees the beginning of a new partnership with the League of Remembrance.

Other projects have included:

English Heritage’s Shout Out Loud, Sounds of the Cold War Series.

November 2020 to April 2021.

Working alongside English Heritage and Grimm & Co., a literacy and creative writing charity based in Rotherham. The project focuses on uncovering the hidden stories of York’s elusive Cold War Bunker in order to work with the young people to create sound installations for the Bunker.

Impact First World War Legacies.

January to May 2018.

Using the archives of the York Army Museum, this Heritage Lottery Funded Exhibition has been co-curated between Clements Hall History Group, Snape Local History Group and myself. The exhibition marks the end of the First World War and the impact that this had on soldiers and families. It is open from May 2018 to November 2018.

Medical Monstrosities and Objects of Terror: Stories of treatments in mental health.

June 2017.

This was a performance created for York Festival of Ideas. I collaborated with two theatre companies, Out of Character and In the Moment, to help them create a performance about the history of psychiatry. Both theatre companies comprise people who have lived experience of mental health problems. The performance was watched by an audience of 150 people.

Worcestershire World War 100.

2016 to 2017.

I worked as a principal researcher on a project commemorating the Centenary of the First World War in Worcestershire. This project has received Heritage Lottery Funding. My task was to research the medical impact of the war on nurses, doctors and servicemen. The outputs of the project were a mini publication available to the public, contributions to an online blog and a touring exhibition which will be on show in the medical museums of Worcestershire.