From Margaret Roberts

[Editor in Chief]

If you are reading Playing Pasts, maybe for the first time, then you probably already have an interest in one or more aspects of sport and leisure history, whether this be as an academic or as someone with a general curiosity about the field. Either way, I hope you will find the approach taken here to your liking.

Launched in September 2016, Playing Pasts was designed to make more widely available the findings of British and International researchers, much of which was being published in academic journals but not easily available to the extensive worldwide community interested in the subject area. In addition, since a substantial proportion of the international sports history community operates outside of academia, the magazine was structured to engage independent, non-academic researchers and facilitate their activities through extending their networks and providing an outlet for their work.

Further motivations for introducing Playing Pasts included the recognition of the urgent need to develop a higher status for the field of sport history research, to enthuse and educate others about this area of history, to help make visible issues surrounding gender and minorities in sport and expose hidden histories around place and identity. The overall objective was to generate a truly collaborative arena, widening knowledge through different networks of the importance of local histories, identifying lost individuals and communities, and connecting with international researchers and interest groups.

Playing Pasts has not only allowed intellectual exchange between academic and public historians to thrive, it has also brought their work to new audiences, enabled democratic commentary and engagement through social media, and increased the credibility of the subject by highlighting its international popularity within communities around the world.

Playing Pasts  is presented solely as a free to access online publication and, while the content is grounded in rigorous and traditional scholarly research, the material has been presented in shortened form and is lavishly illustrated to allow the reader to explore and engage with a range of different formats. The magazine is also unique in that it is not divided into discrete issues but material is added on a weekly basis so there is always something fresh and new while existing material is archived for easy reader access.

Contributions are welcome from anyone who feels they have something they would like to share about the history of sport and leisure, which is interpreted as widely as possible in this context, whether that be athletics or circuses, fell walking or rowing, unusual or traditional sports, or anything else you have a passion about.


Email Margaret Roberts on for more details or to discuss your ideas for an article

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Twitter – @Playing_Pasts