Professor Richard Rodger (MA, PhD, FRHS, AcSS)

Professor Emeritus of Economic and Social History; Urban History, Economic and Social History


Richard Rodger is Emeritus Professor of Economic and Social History at Edinburgh University. He has published widely on the economic, business and urban history of Britain since 1800. His book The Transformation of Edinburgh: Land, Property and Trust in the Nineteenth Century was awarded the Frank Watson Prize for works on Scottish history. Ongoing research involves projects on the development of public health in Victorian Scotland, and a study of Edinburgh trusts as part of a comparative analysis of legal and institutional factors affecting the trajectory of urban development. This research strand began while undertaking MA and PhD degrees in Economics and Economic History at Edinburgh, and continued during appointments at Liverpool, Kansas and Leicester Universities, where Rodger was until recently Professor of Urban History and Director of the East Midlands Oral History Archive. As author and editor, Rodger has published 16 books, and over 100 articles and chapters; he was General Editor for a series of 37 books under the title of Historical Urban Studies, and was Editor of Urban History, published by Cambridge University Press, between 1987 and 2007. Since 2000 he has raised over £1.5 million in research grants. In recognition of his numerous publications, and contributions to the study of economic and social history, Rodger was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences in 2004.

Responsibilities & affiliations

  • Editor, 1987-2007 - Urban History (published by Cambridge University Press) See -
  • General Series Editor 1990-2010;  Historical Urban Studies, Ashgate Publishing. 40 books – see
  • Council member, Economic History Society 2017-
  • Software Made Simple 1990-2011: partner in  a small business producing documentation for students and universities.
  • Consultancy 2007 : Leicestershire County Council, Environment and Heritage Department, Oral History: the Way Forward  (2007)  
  • Exhibition: 1999-2000; Edinburgh’s “Colonies”: Housing the People 1860-2000 in the City Arts Centre, Edinburgh  (For Edinburgh City Council in association with the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments in Scotland)
  • Conference Organiser 1992-2007 (Urban History Group annual conference)
  • AHRC and ESRC panel member
  • BBC Radio 4, "Mapping the City" (July 2000) and various other radio, TV and newspapers contributions.
  • Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Good Practice Guide on Improving Housing Design (DETR 2001); historical contribution to Report.

Research summary


  • Britain & Ireland
  • Europe
  • Scotland


  • Culture
  • Economic History
  • Landscapes & Monuments
  • Society


  • Eighteenth Century
  • Nineteenth Century
  • Twentieth Century & After

Research interests

Urban history of Britain since 1750

I have always been interested in the ways cities develop. For the post 1750 period this means I find myself considering housing and property ownership; building and businesses; the local economy and national policies; social relations and organisations; health and wealth; and the use of spaces in the context of the changing relations of power in the city.

The townscape changed fundamentally in the nineteenth century, and again in the twentieth century.  The informality of pre-modern towns was overwhelmed by rapid urbanisation and industrialisation and this raises fundamental questions about human behaviour – about family, beliefs, support systems, relationships between classes and genders, and household structures.

Project activity

My current project concerns historical mapping. This involves developing the means by which historians can uses addresses to develop a spatial awareness of the city. Much of our daily life is conditioned by our address – council or property tax; driving licences; credit cards and ost financial transactions; voting; business locations, birthplaces; school enrolments and so on. So if we could identify addresses in the past then we could develop a better awareness of the spatial relationships that applied in the past. We can obtain historical addresses from various archives and published material so it is possible to run these through a piece of software and obtain maps to represents the historical data. This project has helped many students and academic staff already and is available to the general public.


Richard Rodger, Space and Spatial Relationships, Special Issue: Urban History 47:3 2020, 372-534 (co-edited with Susanne Rau) CUP, Special Issue ISSN: 0963-9268, EISSN: 1469-87

Richard Rodger, Happy Homes: Cooperation, Community and the Edinburgh ‘Colonies’ (Edinburgh 2022) pbk., 190pp.   

Richard Rodger, Leicester: A Modern History (Carnegie Publishing, Lancaster 2016) (co-edited with R. Madgin) pbk and hbk                       

Richard Rodger, Insanitary City: H. D. Littlejohn and the Report on the Sanitary Condition of Edinburgh (1865) (Carnegie Publications, 2013) with Paul Laxton.

Richard Rodger, Edinburgh's Colonies: Housing the Workers (Argyll Press, 2012)

Richard Rodger, Environmental and Social Justice in the City: Historical Perspectives (White Horse Press, Cambridge 2011), 300pp (ed. with G. Massard-Guilbaud)

Richard Rodger, Testimonies of the City: Identity, Community and Change in a Contemporary Urban World (Ashgate 2007) (ed. with Joanna Herbert), 276pp   

Richard Rodger, Teaching Urban History in Europe/l'Enseignement de l'Histoire Urbaine en Europe (ed. with Denis Menjot) (Leicester 2006),150pp    

Richard Rodger, Cities of Ideas: Civil Society and Urban Governance in Britain 1800-2000(Ashgate 2004), (with R. Colls) 329pp

Richard Rodger, *The Transformation of Edinburgh: Land, Property and Trust in the Nineteenth Century (Cambridge University Press, 2001; pbk 2004)  *awarded Frank Watson Prize in Scottish History for books published in 2001 and 2002

Richard Rodger, Housing the People: the 'Colonies' of Edinburgh 1860-1950 (City of Edinburgh and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1999). 

Richard Rodger, Housing in Urban Britain 1780-1914 (Cambridge University Press 1995) Available as an eBook

Richard Rodger, Research in Urban History (Scolar Press, 1994)

Richard Rodger, Scottish Housing in the Twentieth Century, ed., (Leicester U.P., 1989, Pbk 1993)

Richard Rodger, Housing in Urban Britain 1780-1914: Class, Capitalism and Construction (Macmillans, 1989)

Richard Rodger, Leicester in the Twentieth Century (Alan Sutton, 1993), ed. with D. Reeder, D. N. Nash, and P. Jones)

Richard Rodger, The Victorian City: A Reader in British Urban History, 1820-1914 (Longmans 1993) (ed., with R. J. Morris)   

Richard Rodger, European Urban History: Prospect and Retrospect, ed., (Leicester U.P. 1993) 0 7185 1432 7


Series Editor: 37 books

Historical Urban Studies (Ashgate), with J.-L. Pinol


BibliographiesRichard Rodger, A Consolidated Bibliography of Urban History (Ashgate Publishing 1996), (2nd ed., 1999)                                                                

Richard Rodger, L'Histoire Urbaine en France: Guide Bibliographique (L'Harmattan, Paris 1998) (with Isabelle Backouche and Denis Menjot)                            

Richard Rodger, The Economic History Review Index Second Series, vols. XXIV-XLII, 1971-1989 (with Linda McKenna). (Economic History Society and Blackwell, Oxford, 1991)

Richard Rodger, A Bibliography of European Economic and Social History, (Manchester U.P., 1984) (with D. H. Aldcroft) 2nd ed. 1993


Book chapters and articles

Richard Rodger, The power of the façade or the façade of power: memory and meaning in Victorian cities 1850-1914, Urban History, 2022

Richard Rodger, Property and inequality: housing dynamics in a nineteenth-century city, Economic History Review, 75, 2022, 1151-81

Richard Rodger, Explorations in European urban history: perspectives from Leicester, Moderne Stadtgeschichte, 2: 2020, 64-85 Blog

Richard Rodger, Making the Census count: revealing Edinburgh 1760-1900, Journal of Scottish Historical Studies, 40:2, 2020, 134-48  Blog

Richard Rodger, Susanne Rau, Thinking spatially: new horizons for urban history, Urban History, 47:3, 2020, 372-83

Richard Rodger, Queen Victoria, Edinburgh, and a sense of place, Book of the Old Edinburgh Club [Journal of Edinburgh History], 15, 2019, 29-44

Richard Rodger, Rents, squalor, and the land question: progress and poverty, in J. Hoppit, A. B. Leonard and D. J. Needham (eds.), Money and Markets: Essays in Honour of Martin Daunton (Boydell and Brewer, Woodbridge 2019) 35-54

Richard Rodger, Mobile city: Edinburgh as a communications hub 1775-1825, in Clarisse Godard Desmarest, ed., The New Town of Edinburgh: An Architectural Celebration (John Donald: Edinburgh 2019) 128-46

Richard Rodger, Urban Public Health: a historical perspective, in S. Gales, C. K. Ettman and D. Vlahov, eds., Urban Health (Oxford UP: New York 2019) 169-78 DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190915858.003.0018

Richard Rodger, Historical approaches to urban property development: an interview with Professor Richard Rodger, Urban Cultural Studies, 18, 2018, 351-64

Richard Rodger, Understanding Leicester: independent, radical, tolerant, in R. Rodger and R. Madgin, eds., Leicester: A Modern History (Carnegie Publishing, 2016), 3-52

Richard Rodger, Reinventing the city after 1945, in R. Rodger and R. Madgin, eds., Leicester: A Modern History (Carnegie Publishing, 2016), 175-216

Richard Rodger, Foreword, in L. Rosenburg, Scotland’s Homes Fit for Heroes (Edinburgh 2016), 11-14

Richard Rodger, Foreword, in S. Griffiths and A. von Lunen, Spatial Cultures: Towards a New Social Morphology of Cities Past and Present (2016), xix-xx

Richard Rodger, Reflections: putting the ‘trans’ into transnational history, in N. Kenny and R. Madgin, eds., Cities Beyond Borders Comparative and Transnational Approaches to Urban History (Brighton 2015), 207-16

Richard Rodger, Foreword, in A. Lewis, The Builders of Edinburgh New Town, 1767-1795 (Reading 2014), 7-10

Richard Rodger, (N)evergreen? Auld Reekie absolved, in S. Bradley and E. Elliott, eds., The Evergreen: A New Season in the North (Edinburgh 2014), 34-38

Richard Rodger, When history meets geography: the Visualising Urban Geographies project, in S. Rau and E. Schönherr, eds. Mapping Spatial Relations: their Perceptions and Dynamics, online version of the chapter with supplementary material (doi:, (Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014), 3-15

Richard Rodger, The man who cleansed Edinburgh, Surgeons News. Sept 2013, 60-62 (with Paul Laxton)

Richard Rodger, Echoes of industrialization: cities and the trajectories of development, in C. Zimmermann, ed., Industrial Cities (Frankfurt 2013), 66-88

Richard Rodger, R. Madgin, 2013, 'Inspiring Capital? Deconstructing myths and reconstructing urban environments, Edinburgh, 1860–2010' Urban History, vol 40, no. 3, pp. 507-529.

Richard Rodger, 'Reconsidering justice in past cities: when environmental and social dimensions meet' in Environmental and Social Justice in the City: Historical Perspectives, (White Horse Press, 2011), 1-40

Richard Rodger, 'Visualising urban geographies' - e Perimetron,' Journal on Sciences, and Technologies 5(3) (2010), 118-131

Richard Rodger, 'The changing nature of urban history,' History in Focus 13 (2008)

Richard Rodger, 'Narratives of South Asian women in Leicester 1964 - 2004,' Oral History 36(2) (2008): 554-63

Richard Rodger, 'House Construction' in Encyclopaedia of Scottish Ethnology, ed. M Mulhern, (Scottish Life and Society, 2008) 132-62

Richard Rodger, 'There is no nobler sphere than to take part in municipal work' in Die europaische Stadt und ihre Umwelt, ed. D Schott, M Toyka-Seid, (Darmstadt, 2008) 169-92

Richard Rodger, ‘Who really ran the cities? Municipal knowledge and policy networks in British local government, 1832-1914’, (with James Moore), in R. Roth and R. Beachy, eds., Who Ran the Cities? City Elites and Urban Power in Europe and North America (Aldershot 2007), 37-69.

Richard Rodger, 'Pouvoir de la façade, façade du pouvoir: Edimbourg 1860-1914', in J.-M. Mehl and N. Bourguinat, eds., Les Mises en Scène(s) de l'Espace: Faux-semblant, Ajustements et Expériences dans la Ville (Strasbourg 2006), 141-67.

Richard Rodger, ‘Industrial city: Edinburgh 1800-1914’ in B. Edwards and P. Jenkins, eds., Edinburgh: the Making of a Capital City (Edinburgh 2005), 85-102.

Richard Rodger, 'Swedes, Scots and settlements: micro-urban histories from 1881', in M. Deland, ed., City Strolls (Sakta vi gå genom stan. Stadshistoriska studier tillägnade Lars Nilsson', (Stockholmia Förlag/Kommittén 2005), 212-31.

Richard Rodger, ‘The ‘Common Good’ and civic promotion: Edinburgh 1860-1914’ in R. Colls and R. Rodger, eds., Cities of Ideas: Civil Society and Urban Governance in Britain 1800-2000 (Aldershot 2004), 144-177.

Richard Rodger, (with James Moore) 'Municipal knowledge and policy networks in British local government, 1832 - 1914' in Jahrbuch fur europaische Verwaltungsgeschiechte (15) (Rechtswissenschaften: Lehrstuhl für Öffentliches Recht, 2003), 29-58.

Richard Rodger, ‘Countering counter-urbanisation: trends in 20th Century Scottish towns and cities’, in M. Niemi and V. Vuolanto, eds., Reclaiming the City: Innovation, Culture, Experience (Studia Fennica Helsinki 2003), 21-46.

Richard Rodger, ‘Slums and suburbs: the persistence of residential apartheid’ in P. J. Waller, ed., The Oxford History of the British Landscape (Oxford 2000), 233-68.

Richard Rodger, ‘Industrialisation and the city economy’ (with D. A. Reeder), in M. J. Daunton, ed., Cambridge Urban History of Britain, vol. 3. (Cambridge 2000), 553-92.