Mary Clare Martin

Dr Mary Clare Martin DipTESLMC, BA Hons, PGCE, PhD

Mary Clare Martin

Dr Mary Clare Martin

Principal Lecturer and Research Lead

Department of Education and Community Studies

Faculty of Education and Health

Dr Mary Clare Martin is Principal Lecturer and Research Lead in the Department of Education and Community Studies at the University of Greenwich.

Mary Clare is a social historian, with history degrees from the universities of York and London and makes a major contribution to the infrastructure for studying the history of children. Her major role and innovative approach developing a subject area with new multi-disciplinary directions has been commended by external examiners Dr Heather Montgomery (Open University) and Dr Michael Wyness (University of Warwick). 

Since 2011 she has been Head of the Centre for the Study of Play & Recreation (CSPR), which has a strong interdisciplinary focus. The CSPR has a wide range of associate fellows from around the world, and holds regular events that attract practitioners, as well as academics and postgraduate students from the UK and overseas. Recent CSPR publications include special issues of the journal Childhood in the Past, (2014) entitled 'Play Toys and Memory in International Perspective', and 'Youth Recreation and Play: History, Sociology and Evolutionary Biology' in the journal Youth and Policy (2013). 

Mary Clare co-leads and organises many conferences, such as founding the Life-Cycles seminar (since 2003) at the Institute of Historical Research London, and is also co-founding director of the Horrible Histories conference, launching the new Children's History Society at King's College London.

Her current teaching includes courses on the history of childhood, adolescence & education; children's literature, the image of childhood in literature, art and film and; global childhoods. She supervises research students working on topics which include women in the Metropolitan Police, 1919-1945; a cultural history of children's pain, 1870-1950; respectable femininity and girls' education, 1870-1914; and the reputation of General Charles Gordon in Gravesend.

Mary Clare has experience and qualifications in teaching English as a Foreign Language and English as an Additional Language. She is committed to the development of multi-cultural education and child-centred approaches to learning, including innovative approaches to teaching history in schools. She has four children and has had extensive experience in the voluntary sector, including Chair of the Governors of Church Hill Nursery School in Walthamstow and vice-president of the Waltham Forest Toy Library.

Posts held previously:

  • 2006-2014, Programme leader of BA Hons Childhood Studies, University of Greenwich
  • Principal Lecturer and Research Lead in the Department of Education and Community Studies
  • Head of CSPR
  • Co-supervising doctorates on social mobility and higher education, and the impact of the National Curriculum
  • Supervising PhDs on any aspect of the history of childhood and youth
  • Leads a wide range of interdisciplinary courses relating to BA Hons Education Studies degree
  • Departmental seminar organizer of the History Research Activity Group
  • University Archives steering committee
  • 1994, Lindley studentship, Institute of Historical Research
  • 1989-92, Grant for thesis fees and expenses, All Saints' Educational Trust, Tottenham
  • Conference grant from Royal Historical Society

Learned societies:

  • 2015-present, Co-Founding Director of the Children's History Society
  • 2015-present, Committee member, British Society for the History of Paediatrics and Child Health
  • 2012-15, Secretary of the Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past

Conference and seminar organization:

  • Co-convenor (and founder) of the Life-Cycles seminar. Institute of Historical Research, London
  • Co-convenor of the 'Education in the Long Eighteenth century' seminar. Institute of Historical Research, London
  • September 2016, Histories of Child Health and Illness. Annual Conference of the BSHPCH. Greenwich
  • June 2016, Horrible Histories: Children's Lives in Historical Contexts. King's College London
  • June 2015, Re-Imagining Childhood: Images, Objects and the Voice of the Child. With Leticia Fernandez-Fontecha Rumeu. Greenwich
  • September 2014: Launch seminar for the new Journal of Playwork Practice. Greenwich 
  • July 2014, National Advisory Board of the 56th International Standing Conference of the History of Education, London
  • June 2013, UK representative of the programme committee for the US-based Society for the History of Childhood and Youth Biennial Conference, Nottingham

External examining:

  • 2014-17, External examiner in History at Kingston University
  • 2011-15, External examiner for the BA Hons, Childhood and Youth Studies at Manchester Metropolitan University


  • Waltham Forest History Network
  • Waltham Forest Liaison Group
  • Leyton and Leytonstone Historical Society
  • Pollock's Toy Museum Trust


  • Editorial Board of Childhood in the Past: an International Journal
  • Reviewer for Childhood in the Past, History of Education, Gender and History. Liverpool University Press

Professional associations:

  • Children's History Society
  • Society for the Study of Childhood in the Past
  • Society for the History of Childhood and Youth
  • British Society for the History of Paediatrics and Child Health
  • Social History Society
  • Church of England Record Society
  • Ecclesiastical History Society
  • Royal Historical Society

Mary Clare's research interests is the history of children and young people in the modern period, with particular focus on religion, children's illness, play and youth movements as well as a history of female philanthropy and social welfare.

She is completing a monograph entitled Free Spirits: Children and Religion, 1740-1870 and has two book projects on the history of children's illness: State, Hospital and Community: Children's Experiences of Illness in Europe and America 1700-2000; and the other on Children and Illness in Britain, 1800-2000. She is currently editing a book, Play from Past to Present: Global Perspectives, for Oxbow books and an essay: 'Play, missionaries and the cross-cultural encounter in global perspective, 1800-1870' will be published in the volume, Creating Religious Childhoods in Anglo-World and British Colonial Contexts, 1800-1950, co-edited with Dr Hugh Morrison, University of Otago, New Zealand.

She is also completing articles on children's clothing in the twentieth century: Sarah-Louise Donaldson, Christian Socialist and feminist, 1860-1950; the Poor Law and the family in the London hinterland, 1740-1830; the High Church Cotton family and their London networks; the Women's club of Coconut Grove, Miami; and the health and welfare of missionaries' children 1800-1870.

Funded research projects

  • 2013-14, Multi-Cultural Toys, Greenwich Research and Enterprise
  • 2010-12, Centre for the Study of Play and Recreation, Greenwich Research and Enterprise
  • 2008-11, A social history of children's illness, Greenwich Research and Enterprise
  • 2010, A Mass-Observation Directive: Children's Experiences of Illness. Commissioned by University of Greenwich

() . International Journal of Play. Taylor and Francis. pp. 329-339. ISSN 2159-4937 ISSN 2159-4937

() . Childhood in the Past: An International Journal. Maney Publishing (now Taylor and Francis). pp. 38-45. ISSN 1758-5716 ISSN 1758-5716

() . Childhood in the Past: An International Journal. Maney Publishing. pp. 77-81. ISSN 1758-5716 ISSN 1758-5716

() . Youth & Policy. Youth & Policy. pp. 5-24. ISSN 0262-9798 ISSN 0262-9798

() . Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education. Routledge. pp. 70-81. ISSN 0030-9230 ISSN 0030-9230

Browse our research at GALA

() . In: Creating Religious Childhoods in Anglo-World and British Colonial Contexts, 1800-1950. Routledge, New York. pp. 61-84. ISBN 978-1472489487 (hbk.); 978-1315408781 (ebk.)

() . In: Children, Childhood and Youth in the British World. Palgrave Macmillan UK, Houndmills, Basingstoke, UK. pp. 161-182. ISBN 9781137489401

() . In: Children, Spaces and Identity. Oxbow books, Oxford, UK. pp. 136-154. ISBN 978-1782979357

() . In: Residential Institutions in Britain, 1725-1970: Inmates and Environments. Pickering & Chatto Publishers, London, UK. pp. 65-77. ISBN 9781848933668

Browse our research at GALA