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

IRSH - Instructions for Contributors

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 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 publish some twenty-five articles each year in its four issues and 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.

Approximately one submitted article in four is accepted for publication. The editorial committee endeavours to reach a decision on submitted articles within six months, and to publish accepted contributions within a year. All articles are refereed before acceptance. On acceptance, the executive editor gives an approximate date of publication but 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. The online version of IRSH now has the FirstView feature, publishing articles online before they have been allotted to an issue. This has the advantage for authors that their articles are available for a longer period than hitherto.

The current executive editor is Angelie Sens. The editorial assistant is Ester Zoomer. Astrid Verburg is responsible for bookreviews and the annotated bibliography. All three are based at IISH. See the staff page for the editors and the editorial board.

Data Availability Policy

1. Data are important products of the scientific enterprise, and they should be preserved and be usable for decades in the future. Therefore, the International Review of Social History promotes, as integral part of its publication policy, that data supporting the results in published papers are archived in an appropriate data archive preferably having a Data Seal of Approval. Recommended data repositories are, for example, those listed by the International Federation of Data Organizations (IFDO) for Social Science

2. Data to be archived can be quantitative and/or qualitative. Included can be data created in all current database, spreadsheet, word processing and statistical formats (a list of preferred file formats is available on the website of the Dutch data archive DANS: preferred formats UK DEF.pdf.

3. When archiving in an appropriate data archive, data together with programs and scripts for computation are to be documented clearly and precisely to allow replication. We encourage authors to submit data prior to publication of the article, to enable including a reference to the data archiving in the published article.

4. By default, archiving in an appropriate data archive will imply open access and availability. Exceptions may be granted, especially for proprietary data. Authors will have to supply written information on the conditions and procedures by which these data may be obtained.


Submission of an article is taken to imply that it has not previously been published and is not being considered for publication elsewhere. Authors are also asked to provide brief details of any book they are publishing which includes all or part of a submitted article. 

Contributors will be asked to complete a form assigning copyright (on certain conditions) to Cambridge University Press. This helps ensure maximum protection against unauthorized use, and helps ensure that requests to reproduce contributions are handled effectively. As contributor you retain the right - among others - to reproduce the paper or an adapted version of it in any volume of which you are editor or author. Permission will automatically be given to the publisher of such a volume, subject to normal acknowledgements. For further information see the instructions on the copyright form. 

Contributors are responsible for obtaining permission to reproduce any material in which they do not hold the copyright and for ensuring that the appropriate acknowledgements are included in the typescript, including the illustration materials. In quoting from copyright material, contributors should keep in mind that the rule of thumb for "fair use" confines direct quotation to a maximum of 200 words. An article should be submitted in two versions (preferably by email). One version containing the author's details, the other anonymized as far as possible, in order to facilitate "blind" refereeing. They should include an abstract not exceeding 150 words, specifying the principal conclusion and methods in the context of currently accepted views on the subject. Should email facilities not be available, the article can be sent on disk to: 

International Review of Social History
International Institute of Social History
PO Box 2169
1000 CD Amsterdam
the Netherlands
phone: +31 20 66 858 66
fax: +31 20 66 541 81

Digital file: The file should be saved either as a recent version of MSWord for Windows, or in an MSWord compatible format, or as a PDF file. In case of doubt, please contact the editorial staff at:
Length of Contributions: Articles must preferably not exceed 10,000 words, including footnotes.

Manuscript Preparation

  • Manuscripts should be in 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 an article.
  • Keep the title of the article short and plainly descriptive. 
  • Be sure to paginate your paper. 
  • Use commands of your word processor to create copy for footnotes. Notes should be confined, as far as possible, to necessary references: an excessive number of notes is distracting to the reader and can arouse the suspicion that the aim is to display erudition, not impart information. 
  • Do not use automatic hyphenation. 
  • Paragraph breaks should be indicated by indents and not line breaks. The first paragraph of an article, and of sections, should not be indented. 
  • Major articles should be divided into sections; sections should emphasize the structure of the argument. They should be marked by short titles of no more than fifty key strokes. Sub-sections should likewise be marked by short titles. Avoid numbering and avoid further levels of division. 

When submitting the definitive version of an accepted article, ensure that you have provided the following:

  • A heading that includes, on separate lines, the title, the author's name, affiliation, and e-mail address.
  • An abstract of no more than 150 words, in a single paragraph.
  • The correspondence address (including an e-mail address) you would like to be printed in the Notes on Contributors.

Figures and Tables

If you are including figures and/or tables note the following.
Figures (i.e. graphs and illustrations) must be provided as a separate document, in TIFF or high quality JPEG format. Illustrations should preferably make a substantial addition to the argumentation in the text. All figures should be numbered in sequence throughout the article; the references to sources and descriptive captions must be listed at the end of the article. Indicate clearly where the material is to appear in the text as follows: <FIG.1>; ensure that there is a reference to the figure in the text; permission to duplicate copyright material must be obtained.
Tables must be placed at the end of the article, together with a descriptive caption. They must be numbered in sequence throughout the article, and cited in the text as follows: <TABLE 1>.

Text Conventions

The following paragraphs indicate the text and typographical conventions of theInternational Review of Social HistoryIt is essential that contributors observe the journal's stylistic conventions closely. If not, their article may be returned for amendment. It is essential, therefore, that authors should ensure that their manuscripts, once accepted for publication, are in all respects ready to go to press. All corrections and alterations to contributions at proof stage (apart from the correction of misprints due to an error of the typesetters) are extremely expensive, and may be charged to authors. 

Effective Prose: Authors should make their prose as effective as possible. The following problems often turn up: mixed metaphors; wandering tenses; excessive use of jargon or neologisms unfamiliar to the average reader; unnecessary use of "it is", "there is", and "the fact that"; excessive use of nouns as adjectives; use of empty words such as "factor", "aspect", "element", and "manifestation", instead of exact words required by the context.

Quotations: Follow the punctuation, capitalization and spelling of the original. For short quotations use double quotation marks (except that quotations within quotations take single quotation marks). Long quotations of fifty words or more should be typed as a displayed extract, i.e. a separate block with a space above and below, double spaced, without quotation marks. Punctuation follows closing quotation marks except where whole sentences are quoted. Note that superscript numbers follow punctuation.

Ellipsis in Quotations: use three full points in square brackets. For instance: "Abbreviationsshould be [...] consistent throughout." Note that there are no spaces between the full points or between the points and the brackets. 

Spelling should be consistent throughout. British English and American English are both allowed but one of these two forms should be applied throughout the article. When using British English please note the following preferences:

-izeelite (no accent)   practice (verb)
acknowledgement   focusedreflection
analyseindexesrole (no accent)
cooperatepractice (noun) 

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).

Provide an explanation for any acronym or unusual abbreviations 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; do not use quotation marks. Use double quotation marks if naming a part of a book, an individual contribution to a volume or an article in a journal.

Foreign Words and Phrases: should be italicized, except when they are naturalized. E.g.fabricantFestschrift, but: bona fide, status quo, vis-à-vis. Exception to this rule are foreign addresses, which are not italicized. Note especially the naturalized forms for: emigré, and ancien régime. When using foreign words and phrases, please check and double check the spelling, especially when it is not your 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 placed at the end of the article and not at the bottom of the page. Do not use endnote or footnote commands to create copy for notes. Copy so created is very hard to edit at a later stage.
Note that the Harvard system of citing author and year in the text amplified by a list of references is never used in the IRSH

Unnumbered Initial Note. A note containing acknowledgements should be an unnumbered initial note. A superscript asterisk should be placed at the end of the title accordingly. The unnumbered note should contain any reference to previous forms of the article (an address delivered, for example) and any acknowledgements (of the assistance of colleagues and of grants from foundations). 

Explanatory Notes: notes are primarily for the citation of sources. Use explanatory notes only for those items of detail that would otherwise interrupt the flow of your argument or for those highly technical qualifications that would be of interest or use only to a very few scholars. 

First References: First references to books and articles are to be punctuated and capitalized as in the following examples:

  • Article
    Neville Kirk, "In Defence of Class: A Critique of Recent Revisionist Writing upon the Nineteenth-Century English Working Class", International Review of Social History, 32 (1987), pp. 2-47.
    Markus Wehner, "Archivreform bei leeren Kassen. Einige Anmerkungen zur politischen und ökonomischen Situation der russischen Archiven", Osteuropa, 44 (1994), pp. 105-124.
    Jean-Paul Couthéoux, "Les pouvoirs économiques et sociaux dans un secteur industriel: La sidérurgie", Revue d'histoire économique et sociale, 38 (1960), pp. 339-376.
  • Book
    Michael Poole, Theories of Trade Unionism: A Sociology of Industrial Relations (London etc., 1981), pp. 18-30.
  • Multi-Volume Work
    Franco Venturi, Settecento riformatore: La caduta dell' Antico Regime (1776-1789), 2 vols (Turin, 1984), I, p. 203.
  • Essay in Collection
    Yves Lequin, "Apprenticeship in Nineteenth-Century France. A Continuing Tradition or a Break with the Past?", in Steven Laurence Kaplan and Cynthia J. Koepp (eds), Work in France: Representations, Meaning, Organization, and Practice (Ithaca, NY etc., 1986), pp. 457-474.
  • Multi-Authored or Edited Work
    Peter Armstrong et al., White Collar Workers, Trade Unions and Class (London etc., 1986), pp. 87-93.
  • Thesis or Dissertation
    H.F. Gospel, "Employers' Organisations: Their Growth and Function in the British System of Industrial Relations in the Period 1918-39" (Ph.D., London School of Economics, 1974), pp. 15-20 [hereafter, "Employers' Organisations 1918-39"].
Please note the following: always include inclusive page numbers in references to articles, and essays in collections, also if you are referring to one specific page. When referring to a specific page within an article or an essay in a collection, this page number directly follows after the inclusive page number, separated by a comma, as in the following example:
Neville Kirk, "In Defence of Class: A Critique of Recent Revisionist Writing upon the Nineteenth-Century English Working Class", International Review of Social History, 32 (1987), pp. 2-47, 15.

Also note the following:

  • authors' names as they appear in the original (in full or initials only);
  • if using authors' initials, no space between the initials, e.g. E.P. Thompson;
  • subtitles separated by colons;
  • (ed.) and (eds) not ed. and eds;
  • in English references, capitalize the first word of the title and the subtitle, and all significant words;
  • in German references, the first word of the title and the subtitle, and all nouns should be capitalized;
  • in references in any other language, only the first word of the title and the subtitle, and any proper nouns are capitalized;
  • lower case for "bk." and "bks" for book(s); "ch." and "chs" for chapter(s);
  • always give place and date of publication, or if really not available, "n.p., n.d.";
  • for US publications it is helpful to indicate the state as well as the town, e.g.: (Cambridge, MA, 1990);
  • if more than one place of publication is given in a book, only mention the first place, followed by "[etc.]";
  • use p. or pp. before page extents and references;
  • other abbreviations to use are "app." and "apps" for appendix(es); "l." and "ll." for line(s); "n." and "nn." for note(s); "no." and "nos" for number(s); "pt." and "pts" for part(s); and "vol." and "vols" for volume(s).
  • in general, volume but not issue number of journals are given, except in cases where every issue of a journal starts with new pagination;
  • volume numbers in arabic numerals for journals, even when the original gives roman numerals;
  • volume numbers in roman capitals for multi-volume books;
First Citations of Manuscripts. The footnote should include:
a. full name of the author, if any, or for a letter the author, addressee, and date (and the place of origin within parentheses, if important);
b. the title of the document, if any, and date within parentheses, when appropriate, if not included in a.;
c. the repository of the collection, if any;
d. the designation of the series; and
e. the folio number(s) (or box number[s] or other identifying specific location, where appropriate).
Sample Citations of Manuscript Material
Archives Nationales, Paris [hereafter, AN], Register E, MS JJ26, folio 302v.
Another Example
Gneist to Müller, July 26, 1848, Deutsches Zentralarchiv, Abteilung II Merseburg [hereafter, DZAM], Rep. 92 v. Gneist, No 22, folios 66r - 70v.

Second and Subsequent References. The last name of the author or editor (without "ed.") and a short title should be used in subsequent references to the same work. The short title should contain key words in sequence from the main title of the book or article. Do not use words from the subtitle (without including the main title), abbreviations, or words out of order unless you signal such an alteration in the first citation, using [hereafter, ...]. In shortening foreign language titles, be careful not to omit a word that changes the capitalization or that governs the case ending of a word retained in the shortened title. In other words, please keep the shortened title grammatically and stylistically correct. Titles of six words or less need not be shortened; and titles should not be so shortened that the sense of the reference is lost (that is, History of the British Empire should not be shortened merely to History). Note that the "ed." or "eds" is always deleted in second references to edited works. For a second essay from a collection previously cited, the shortened form for the volume should be used even though it is the first citation to the article in question.

Sample Citations of Second References to Manuscript Material
AN, Register E, MS JJ26, folio 306r.
Gneist to Müller, July 26, 1848.
Gneist to Müller, July 28, 1848, DZAM, Rep. 92 v. Gneist, No 22, folios 83r - 84r, 87.
N.B. Authors should of course follow the citation-instructions given by institutions.

Additional or Subordinate Citations. When a footnote contains both the source of a quotation in the text and other related references, the citation for the quotation comes first, ending with a period. The following, related citations should be separated from one another by semicolons; references to two or more works by the same author should be separated by commas, without repeating the author's name. In each of these forms, "and" precedes the last item in the series. Beware of the distinction between "also see" and "cf." (from confero, "to compare"), which is italicized only in legal style. Use "cf." sparingly, and only to mean "compare". Generally, clarity takes precedence over brevity; and the following forms, for example, are usually preferable to "cf.": "For a contrasting view of [...], see [...]" or "For the same argument from a different perspective, see [...]". 

Latinisms and Other Abbreviations. The Review, along with most scholarly journals and university presses, does not use op. cit. and loc. cit. Authors or editors and short title forms are always used instead. Ibid. (ibidem, "in the same place"), which is always italicized, refers to a single work cited in the immediately preceding note or in place of the name of a journal or book of essays in successive references to the same book or journal within a single note. Thus, the citation of more than one work in the previous note, the intervention of explanatory material that does not include a citation, or the intervention of another book or journal within a note precludes the use of ibid. Idem should be used when listing more than one book or article by the same author consecutively. Passim ("here and there") should be used very sparingly and only after inclusive page numbers, chapter numbers, or section number indicating a fairly sizeable, but not impossible, amount of text cited. Passim is a complete word and is followed by a period only when it falls at the end of a citation.


Proofs may be expected about three-and-a-half months before publication date. Only essential typographical or factual errors may be changed at proof stage. Do resist the temptation to revise or add to the text. The publisher reserves the right to charge authors for correction of non-typographical errors.