Dr Polly Russell

Polly Russell, Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies
Head, Eccles Centre for American Studies
Feminism, Food History, Oral History & American Studies
Related Offices
Oxford Symposium of Food & Cookery Trustee; British Library Food Season Curator

Polly Russell is Head of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. She holds a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Sheffield and her research focusses on twentieth century women’s movements and feminism and the history of food.


Polly read American & Commonwealth Arts at Exeter University and subsequently lived in Louisiana, USA where she was awarded a Masters in Journalism at Louisiana State University. Her Master’s thesis focussed on the adoption of mass marketing techniques by the New York Times under the ownership of Adolph Ochs towards the end of the nineteenth century. For her PhD Polly turned back to the UK with a thesis titled, ‘Narrative Constructions of British Culinary Culture.’ This explores food's relation to identity by examining the oral history life stories of 40 individuals involved in commercial food production in the UK. 


Polly joined the Library as a Curator in 2009 and was the Lead for the library’s 2021 major exhibition Unfinished Business: the Fight for Women's Rights and the accompanying podcast series of the same name. She was also the British Library project lead for Sisterhood & After: An Oral History of the Women's Liberation Movement. Since 2012 Polly has had a column in the Financial Times Saturday magazine, The History Cook and she is the historical presenter on the BBC2 history series Back in Time.