Charlotte Tomlinson

Charlotte Tomlinson


I am a historian of modern British history with a focus on women and war. My research looks at the experiences of female civilian volunteers in Second World War Britain, specifically women who were members of the Women's Voluntary Services. My PhD project explores how wartime voluntarism was imagined, experienced and remembered, considering themes such as gender, citizenship, agency and the use of personal narratives. It is generously funded by the White Rose College for the Arts and Humanities (AHRC) and my supervisors are Dr Jessica Meyer and Dr Laura King.

I have worked on a number of projects exploring the relationship between people, places, and history, and my academic and public work often engages with these themes. In 2019 I joined the Advisory Board for the IHR’s Centre for the History of People, Place and Community.

In 2019 I worked with the East End Women’s Museum, London, to create a new heritage trail exploring the stories of trailblazing and inspiring women through the places they lived and worked in East London. The Brilliant Women of Whitechapel, Bow and Barking will launch in March 2020.

I began my PhD in 2017 after completing an MA in Modern History at Leeds. My previous research project was closely related to my current research and examined women's responses to clothing policy and propaganda in Second World War Britain. My MA thesis argued that women's responses to wartime propaganda were more complex and ambiguous than has been previously argued, and were fundamentally shaped by both gendered and classed ideas of women's roles in wartime.

I am committed to public history and since 2013 have been involved in a range of public engagement projects with partners across Yorkshire. Through these projects I have gained experience of working with museums and galleries, local communities and other groups from the arts and culture sector. I am the creator of award-winning project, The Hull Blitz Trail, a heritage trail created to co-incidence with Hull UK City of Culture 2017 which attracted more than 14,000 users. I have also been involved in organising conferences, designing exhibitions, undertaking oral histories and working with volunteers, and have written about some of these public history experiences in print and online. I’m always open to new collaborations and projects, so please do get in touch.

You can view The Hull Blitz Trail and other projects here:


Since 2016 I have also taught in the School of History at the University of Leeds, first delivering archive skills workshops to students undertaking research projects, then as module tutor the Faculty-wide Research Placement module and the first year undergraduate module Primary Sources for the Historian. In these roles I have mentored students working with public partners, delivered mini-lectures and seminars, and designed a 12 week module based on my own historical research, working with students from level one undergraduates to MA and PhD candidates. In 2019 I was shortlisted for a Partnership Award and received a teaching commendation from the University of Leeds based on outstanding student feedback.  


‘City of Culture, City of Transformation: Bringing Together the Urban Past and Urban Present in The Hull Blitz Trail’, Urban History, 2020.

‘Walking as Radical History on the East End Women’s Museum Trail’, History Workshop Online, 2020.

‘Review: A Shop Assistant in Wartime: The Dewsbury Diary of Kathleen Hey 1941–1945’, Archives, 2019.

‘Review: An historical map of Kingston-Upon-Hull, from medieval town to industrial city’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 2018.

Raphael Hallett, Charlotte Tomlinson, Tim Procter, ‘Setting up a ‘Special Relationship’: Students as Co-Creators of a Research-based Curriculum’, Journal of Educational Innovation, Partnership and Change, 2018.


‘Dealing With Distress: The Women’s Voluntary Services and the Hull Blitz’, RVS Heritage Bulletin Blog, May 2019.

‘Who Volunteers? Recruiting for the WVS in Wartime’, RVS Heritage Bulletin Blog, March 2019.

‘Mend and Make Do to Save Buying New’: What can we learn from WVS work with wartime clothing?’, RVS Heritage Bulletin Blog, September 2019.

Conference Papers

Winning the Wardrobe: Women’s Responses to Clothing Policy and Propaganda in Second World War Britain, War Through Other Stuff Conference, September 2018.

There’s a Job for Women Too! Volunteering for the Women’s Voluntary Services in Second World War Britain, Protect and Survive: Bombing, Civilians and Voluntary Organisations, July 2018.

City of Culture, City of Transformation: Bringing Together the Urban Past and Urban Present in The Hull Blitz Trail, Urban History Beyond the Academy, Leeds Beckett University, May 2018.

Work in Progress: Volunteering for the Women's Voluntary Services in Second World War Britain, School of History, May 2018.

Research interests

My main areas of interest and experience are in the history of women’s experience in Second World War Britain, with a focus on citzenship and propaganda, and public history, particularly the relationship between people, place and heritage. 

More broadly, my research interests include modern British history, women’s history, public history, popular memory, placemaking, and teaching with archives. I am more than happy to be contacted about any of these themes and are always looking for new ways to collaborate with partners inside and outside of academia.


  • Leeds for Life Foundation Award, 2018
  • White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities PhD Scholarship (AHRC), 2017
  • University of Leeds MA Scholarship, 2015