Louise Bell

Profile

I joined the University of Leeds in October 2020 as a PhD candidate. I am currently undertaking an AHRC funded Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with The National Archives (where I worked as First World War Diverse Histories Researcher during the centenary period). The project explores British state provision of prosthetic limbs in the two world wars, and builds on previous research undertaken during my MSc – which focussed on limbless men in the First World War and two of the hospitals set up to aid them. 

This project will explore the relationship between the British government, prosthetics manufacturers and men whose limbs were amputated as a result of service during the two world wars. It will explore the social, economic and cultural impact of this form of war disability, with a focus on the agency of disabled individuals as demonstrated through interactions with political and industrial institutions. Building on the work of historians of welfare, medicine, and disability this project will examine the influence of a specific category of disabled individuals on the shape of state-provided medical care in twentieth-century Britain.

I undertook my MSc in Health History at the University of Strathclyde, as part of the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare, which I graduated from in 2015. My dissertation focussed on the two hospitals sets up at Erskine and Roehampton and the work undertaken there in supplying prostheses and rehabilitation to the men returning from the First World War missing one or more limbs. Previous to this, I undertook my BA(Hons) in History and German, also at the University of Strathclyde, and graduated from that in 2013. 

My first book was published in 2018 with Pen and Sword and is titled Images of The National Archives: Armistice. In this, I utilised the rich collections of The National Archives and highlighted rarely seen images to explore the story from the final months of the war to Armistice itself and the unveiling of the Cenotaph, as well as the lasting legacies of the conflict on those who experienced it. 

Research interests

My research interests include, but are not limited to:

  • disability history
  • history of medicine
  • military history
  • public history
  • oral history
  • social and cultural histories of war
  • gender and masculinity
  • working with archives

I am one of the editors of the Social History Society’s Community Exchange blog. This is a space to promote work in spaces such as museums and archives and bring together the different audiences and producers of social and public history outwith academia. 

I am also a committee member of Herstory Club, which has been established to bring women with a passion for history together. 

Qualifications

  • MSc Health History
  • BA(Hons) History and German