Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

IRSH - Instructions for Book Reviewers

Editorial Policy

The International Review of Social History (IRSH) is one of the leading journals in the field of social history, in particular in the history of work, workers, and labour relations defined in the broadest possible sense. This includes workers’ struggles, organizations, and associated social, cultural, and political movements, both in the modern and the early modern periods, and across periods. IRSH aims to be truly global in scope and emphasizes the need for a comparative perspective that acknowledges the interrelationship of historical change and the phenomena and factors underlying that change. The journal is issued by the International Institute of Social History (IISH), and published four times a year by Cambridge University Press. Three issues are published in April, August, and December, with an annual special issue of commissioned essays on a current topic, also published in December. IRSH aims to cover a major part of the books published in the field of social and labour history in its book reviews and annotated bibliography sections.

The current executive editor and book reviews editor is Angelie Sens. The editorial assistant is Ester Zoomer. Astrid Verburg is responsible for the bookreviews and the annotated bibliography. All three are based at IISH.

The current members of the editorial committee are: Ravi Ahuja, Rossana Barragán, Stefano Bellucci, Ulbe Bosma, Leyla Dakhli, Ad Knotter, Marcel van der Linden (chair), Christine Moll-Murata, and Elise van Nederveen Meerkerk.

Book Reviews Policy

Within the book reviews section, IRSH aims to focus on publications that fall into one or more of the following categories: cover a new subject or field within the broader range of social and labour history; cover a subject outside the traditional geographical or chronological focus of social and labour history (Europe and North America, nineteenth and twentieth century); use new research methods or methodologies; use a comparative perspective; give a good overview of subject fields that are insufficiently covered in the English language literature; offer new results or perspectives on the more traditional subject fields of social and labour history, in particular by using newly available source materials or research methods.

Book reviews are normally published within six months of receipt. On acceptance, the book reviews editor will give an approximate date of publication. He reserves the right to change that date at short notice, owing to space constraints and the need to achieve an appropriate balance of content in each issue.


Submission of a review is taken to imply that it has not previously been published and is not being considered for publication elsewhere.

Book reviewers are asked to send soft copy of their reviews to the book reviews editor, preferably by means of an e-mail attachment. The files should be saved either in a recent version of MSWord for Windows, or in an MSWord compatible format, or as PDF files. In case of doubt, please contact the editorial staff at:

Books for review and completed reviews should be sent to:
Astrid Verburg
Book Reviews Editor
International Review of Social History
International Institute of Social History
PO Box 2169
1000 CD Amsterdam
The Netherlands
tel: +31 20 66 858 66
fax: +31 20 66 541 81

Reviews of single books in IRSH have a standard word length of c.1500 words. If reviewers wish to diverge from this, they should consult the book reviews editor first.

Reviewers are required to submit their reviews within three months of receiving the review copy of the book. They should notify the book reviews editor with sufficient notice if they are unable to comply with this time frame.

Manuscript Preparation

Book reviews should be in British English (or American English for American authors). In cases where no English text can be provided, authors should always contact the executive editor before submitting a review.

Paragraph breaks should be indicated by indents and not line breaks.

Text Conventions

Spelling should be consistent throughout. When using British English, please note the following preferences:

-izationdispatchpractice (noun)
acknowledgementelite (no accent)practise (verb)
colourjudgementrole (no accent)

Note especially the use of -ize rather than -ise.

Masculine form: Turns of phrase using masculine forms as universals are not acceptable (e.g., "The historian and his problems").

Abbreviations and acronyms should be easily identifiable and consistent throughout. The following standard abbreviations are used:
f. ff. (= the following page(s)), fo. (= folio), ed., vol.
But: 2nd edn, eds, fos (= folios), Dr, Mr, St, vols (i.e. without points – these are contractions where the abbreviation ends with the last letter of the word).
An explanation for any acronym or unusual abbreviation should be provided at the first mention, e.g., Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), Sozialistische Partei Deutschlands (SPD).
Initials in personal names retain points, e.g., G.A. Smith. Note that in IRSH style there is no space between initials in personal names.

Dates should be typed without commas as follows: 5 July 1985. In referring to a century use the form: "twentieth century". Note that when used as an adjective a hyphen appears between the ordinal and the word "century", e.g. "nineteenth-century labour".

Figures and numerals: Units of measurement and all numbers over 100 should be given in figures; others should be in words (e.g. ten schools, twenty-five countries) – except in passages where many statistics are discussed and it is obviously desirable to use figures.

Titles cited in the text: Titles of books and journals should be italicized; quotation marks should not be used. Double quotation marks should be used if naming a part of a book, an individual contribution to a volume, or an article in a journal.

Quotations: In quotations, the punctuation, capitalization, and spelling of the original should be followed. Punctuation follows closing quotation marks except where whole sentences are quoted. Double quotation marks are used, except for quotations within quotations which take single quotation marks.

Foreign words and phrases: These should be italicized, except when they are naturalized, e.g., fabricant, Festschrift, but, bona fide, status quo, vis-à-vis. Note especially the naturalized forms for emigré and ancien régime. Exceptions to this rule are foreign addresses or institutions, which are not italicized. When using foreign words and phrases, authors should check and double check the spelling, especially when not using their first language.

Punctuation: The serial comma is preferred (Marx, Engels, and Kautsky rather than Marx, Engels and Kautsky). The possessive "s" following an "s" is preferred (Phillips’s rather than Phillips’). Round brackets are used for brackets within brackets; square brackets are used for interpolation within quoted matter.

Italicization and emphasis should be used sparingly. Bold type should be avoided altogether and underlining is never used.


Notes should be used sparsely in book reviews, if at all. It should be noted that the Harvard system of citing author and year in the text amplified by a list of references is never used in IRSH. If references are given (in notes or in the text), they should be presented as follows: E.P. Thompson, The Making of the English Working Class (London, 1963), pp. 320–322; Walter Galenson, "The Unionization of the American Steel Industry", International Review of Social History, 1 (1956), pp. 8–40, 35.

[December 2014]