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About Dr Olly Ayers

Dr Olly Ayers is a Associate Professor in History. He received a first-class honours degree in History from the University of Manchester before completing a PhD in history at the University of Kent in 2013, where he was a Lecturer in American History before joining NCH. He is a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, a member of the Historians of Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) and has a wide-ranging set of academic interests spanning the histories of racial protest, urban environments and global politics. He is the Director of Graduate Studies in the History Faculty, responsible for the delivery of the MA in Historical Research and Public History.



PhD in History, University of Kent, Canterbury (2013)

BA in History, University of Manchester (2008)



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Dr Olly Ayers's Research

Dr Ayers’ first project examined civil rights activism in the USA during the 1930s and 1940s, analysing how black workers and protest groups responded to the rise of New Deal-era governmental activism and  industrial trade unionism. Elements of this research have been published in the Journal of American Studies and the European Journal of American Culture. The culmination of the project was a monograph published by Routledge in 2018 entitled Laboured Protest: Black Civil Rights in New York City and Detroit during the New Deal and Second World War, a book which offers a new interpretation of the movement’s origins, geographical location and overall impact. Dr Ayers has also written an article for the Journal of Urban History delving into the circumstances of Fred Trump’s arrest during a parade involving the Ku Klux Klan in Queens in 1927.

Dr Ayers’ next project is entitled ‘Mapping Black London in World War II’. Funded by a $10,000 grant from a joint initiative with Northeastern University, the project will use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) techniques to chart black activities in the wartime city, offering new visual methods of examining the historical connections between the histories of anti-imperial protest, US civil rights and British racial politics.


Selected Publications

Academic Monograph
Laboured Protest: Black Civil Rights in New York City and Detroit during the New Deal and Second World War (New York and London: Routledge, 2018).

Scholarly Research Articles:

‘Fred Trump, the Ku Klux Klan and Grassroots Redlining in Interwar America’, The Journal of Urban History, (Online First, 2019).

‘The 1935 Labour Dispute at the Amsterdam News and the Challenges Posed by the Rise of Unionism in Depression-era Harlem’, Journal of American Studies, 48 (2014).

‘Black Nationalism and Opposition to Organized Labour during the 1930s’, European Journal of American Culture, 34 (2015).

Book Reviews
Reviews in Social History, Journal of American Studies, Reviews in History and Australasian Journal of American Studies.

Dr Olly Ayers's Teaching

Teaching Appointments

Lecturer in American History at University of Kent (2013-2014)

Assistant Lecturer in School of History (2010-2013)

Assistant Lecturer in Department of American Studies (2010-2013)


Course Development

Olly has developed two courses in the NCH History degree programme, the Level Five option ‘A Long Civil Rights Movement? Black Political Protest, 1918-1968’ and the Level Six option ‘The City in American Political Life’.


Languages Spoken