Research Projects

The Walgreens Boots Alliance Archive has had several research collaboration projects running with a number of different institutions and on a range of topics. The following areas of study have either recently or are currently taking place:

Based at the University of Nottingham, Professor Anna Greenwood, Dr Richard Hornsey and Dr Hilary Ingram are researching the international history of Boots. Their project ‘Chemists to the Nation, Pharmacy to the World’: Exploring the Global Dimensions of British Healthcare and Beauty with Boots The Chemists, 1919-1980' is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and runs from October 2021 through to September 2025. The team is working to better understand how twentieth-century retail, manufacturing, and wholesale operations at Boots were shaped internationally, and are especially interested in how the company navigated postcolonial transition. Working extensively with the Walgreens Boots Alliance collections, the research team is uncovering the international stories embedded within everyday health and beauty products sold by Boots– from cod liver oil to saccharin, strepsils to perfumery. [hyperlink to, once its launched]

Dr Richard Hornsey in the University of Nottingham (UK) Department of History co-curated an exhibition on the history of the No7 brand with the Boots UK Archive team in 2016, and published this research in Women’s History Review in 2018.

Dr Michael Heller (Brunel University Business School) and Professor Michael Rowlinson (University of Exeter Business School) are currently working on an Economic and Social Research Council funded project on the institutional history of internal communications in the UK since 1880. It seeks to integrate historical research with organizational theory, including institutional theory and rhetorical history. Its archival research is unprecedented in terms of scale and scope.

Professor Victoria Tischler Professor of Behavioural Science at the University of Surrey(UK), received a Wellcome Research Bursary to extend initial research into the therapeutic benefits of a Boots UK multi-sensory memory box. Initial research was also conducted with Professor Tom Dening and Dr Charlotte Beer from the Institute of Mental Health at the University of Nottingham (UK) along with Sarah Griffiths. An article outlining this project was published in Dementia under the title Mementos from Boots multisensory boxes - Qualitative evaluation of an intervention for people with dementia. Federica d'Andrea has just completed doctoral research on a project titled 'Using olfactory stimulation: multi-sensory interventions in care homes for people with dementia' at the University of West London, supervised by Victoria and Tom Dening of the University of Nottingham..

Dr Jamie Stark, Associate Professor of Medical Humanities at the University of Leeds (UK), has been supported by a major British Arts and Humanities Research Council AHRC Leadership Fellowship to build on a Wellcome Seed Award, which investigated the concept and practices of regeneration in medicine. His project, Endless Possibilities of Rejuvenation:Defying Ageing, Defining Youth in Britain, 1919-1948 involves partnerships with the Walgreens Boots Alliance Archive, the Thackray Medical Museum and a National Trust property - Overbeck's, to examine how our attitudes towards ageing and rejuvenation changed in the first half of the twentieth century. The resulting monograph – The Cult of Youth – was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. Dr Stark has also received funding through the Science Museums and Archives Consortium for a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership which used material from the Boots UK collection alongside records from the Science Museum to explore Constructing and Consuming Imagined Futures: Advertising Healthcare to Publics and Professionals in Twentieth-century Britain. He was also Co-investigator on a UKRI-funded project focused on improving hand-washing practices amongst primary school children, drawing on historic images of germs.

Professor Gareth Shaw from the University of Exeter Business chool and Professor Mairi Maclean of the University of Bath Business School have completed an ESRC project on the Rowntree History of Management in Inter-War Britain. This covers leading companies and major employers such as Boot that used progressive management techniques and made strong contributions to the management movement promoted by Rowntree. The project has drawn on material from the Walgreens Boots Alliance Archive and developed an interactive database which is available to a wider research community as well as to the general public.

PhD Student Research

Dr Gary Kerridge, who received a British Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Doctoral Training Collaborative Award, was awarded his PhD at Warwick Business School (UK) in 2016. His thesis included a longitudinal exploration of the organizational identity of Boots UK through their corporate values, enactment of social responsibility and employee engagement. Reconceptualising Organizational Identity: A Critical Realist and Historical Case Study of Walgreens Boots Alliance (1892-2002).

Dr. Katey Logan through an ESRC Doctoral Training Collaborative Award, was awareded her PHD at Warwick Business School (UK). Her thesis investigates how the professional identities of community pharmacists exist, change and adapt over time, with focus on interplay between clinical and commercial practice. Katey presented initial research findings at the European Group for Organisational Studies Colloquium in Tallinn, and at the Society for Social History of Medicine Conference in Liverpool in 2018. She also presented at an event at Warwick University on “Cultural Histories of National Health”, and has contributed chapters in The Oxford Handbook of Identities in Organisations with Professor Graeme Currie (Pro-Dean Research, Warwick Business School) and Posters, protests, and prescriptions ed. Jennifer Crane and Jane Hand.

Jack Moss is currently in the third year of his PhD at the University of Nottingham. This M4C Collaborative Doctoral Award is in collaboration with the Boots Archive and Dr Richard Horney and Professor Anna Greenwood. Jack’s research looks at the history, culture and experience of high-street shopping in postwar Britain and makes use of the vast holdings of the Boots company archives. The thesis takes the introduction of “self-service” formats as its starting point, and explores how Boots adapted this model for its own ends. It subsequently investigates how the arrival of self-service ideas effected wider company practices such as store design, merchandising and staff training
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