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Dr Ruth Beecher

BA (Birkbeck), MA (Sheffield), PhD (Birkbeck) Postdoctoral Research Fellow

Contact details

Department of History, Classics and Archaeology
Birkbeck, University of London
26 Russell Square, Room B33
London WC1B 5DQ
T: 020 7631 6656

See the website for Sexual Harms and Medical Encounters (SH+ME):
See the website for the Irish Women’s Digital History Project (únaganagúna):

On twitter, follow me @deltacane.
Follow SH+ME @shme_bbk
Follow Únaganagúna @UnaganagunaP


  • Ruth joined the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck in October 2018 as a post-doctoral research fellow working with the Wellcome Trust-funded Sexual Harms, Medicine and Medical Encounters Research hub (see website: Ruth is a social and cultural historian with interests in the history of race, gender, children and families, sexuality, and popular culture in the US and UK in the twentieth century.

Research and teaching

  • Current Research
  • Ruth’s current research focuses on the ways nurses, doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists have responded to (or ignored) the possibility that a child is being sexually abused by a family member since the 1960s in the UK and the US. How have their thoughts, behaviours, public utterances, and clinical practices changed over time? The aim is to bring a historical perspective to a problem that is often seen only in a particular cultural moment through archival research and collecting oral histories from current and retired community health practitioners. See more information about Ruth's current research at
  • Ruth was also an honorary research fellow at Birkbeck in 2017/18 for an oral history project which involved gathering oral testimony from Irish women or those who are part of the diaspora to examine how their lives and attitudes evolved during each decade of the twentieth century. The project is staffed by volunteers and is ongoing. See website: for further information.
  • Previous Research
  • Ruth's PhD (2015) investigated the strange career choices of African American poet and literary critic Sterling A. Brown in the mid-twentieth century. Although he was a celebrated poet and literary critic, he turned away from his creative aspirations in the 1930s and involved himself in a range of projects in the social sciences – in folklore, in black history and the Federal Writers’ Project, in the Carnegie Myrdal ‘Study of the American Negro,’ and in ethnographic journalism. The thesis explored the challenges faced by black intellectuals and civil rights activists in mid twentieth century America through Brown’s alliances with white intellectuals. It exposed the commonalities and the fractures, alongside the progress and the misunderstandings between intellectuals across the racial divide.
  • Teaching interests
  • Race and the long civil rights movement in the United States; popular culture; history of sexuality; oral history themes and methods.