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Mrs Brenda Collins

B.S.Sc. (QUB), M.Phil. (Edin.)

Honorary Visiting Research Fellow in Irish History


Brenda Collins graduated with a B.S.Sc. in Economic History and Social Studies and has an M.Phil. from Edinburgh University where her dissertation was on  Irish migration and settlement into two Scottish towns (Dundee and Paisley) during the mid-nineteenth century. During the 1970s-1980s she worked on several ESRC funded projects using computerised nineteenth-century British and early twentieth-census Irish census records.  She was a Junior Research Fellow in the Institute of Irish Studies and, for many years, was an Associate Lecturer with the Open University and also a part-time tutor at Queen’s. From 1993 -2011 she was Research Officer at the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum where she undertook research for exhibition production and was responsible for the archival and library collections.

Research Interests

Brenda Collins has published extensively using census-based data analysis. Her interests comprise demography, migration and the history of the Irish linen industry. An interest in archives and in comparative research methods has led to her current preoccupation with the micro-history of two English families, the Rawdons and the Conways  in seventeenth century Ulster and the development of their landed estates in the Lagan Valley.

Selected Publications

 'The Conway estate in County Antrim: an example of seventeenth century 'English' building styles in Ireland' in Olivia Horsfall Turner The Mirror of Great Britain. National Identity in Seventeenth Century British Architecture, (Spire, Reading, 2012).

‘Sources for a seventeenth-century Ulster estate: the Hastings (Irish) papers in the Huntington Library, California’, Familia, Vol. 24, (2008).

 ‘Taste, Chemistry and Mechanics: early industrial Lisburn 1760-1825’ in B. Collins, P. Ollerenshaw and T. Parkhill, eds., Industry, Trade and People in Ireland 1650-1950. Essays in honour of W.H. Crawford (Ulster Historical Foundation, Belfast, 2005).

(ed. with P. Ollerenshaw), The European Linen Industry in Historical Perspective (Oxford University Press, 2003).

‘Been There, Done That: the Availability and Uses of Irish Twentieth Century Census Records’, Familia, Vol. 17 (2001).

 ‘Matters Material and Luxurious – eighteenth and early nineteenth century Irish linen consumption’ in J. Hill and C. Lennon eds. Luxury and Austerity (University College Dublin, 1999).

‘The loom, the land and the marketplace : women weavers and the family economy in late nineteenth-  and early twentieth-century Ireland’ in Marilyn Cohen ed. The Warp of Ulster’s Past  (St Martins Press, New York, 1997).

‘The Irish in Britain 1780-1921’ in B.J. Graham and L.J. Proudfoot eds. An Historical Geography of Ireland (Academic Press, London 1993).

 ‘The Edwardian City’ in J.C. Beckett et al Belfast, the making of a city (Appletree Press, Belfast, 1983)

‘Proto-Industrialisation and pre-Famine migration’, Social History, Vol.7 (1982).