Brenda Collins has been a Visiting Research Fellow in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics, Queen’s University, Belfast since 2011.
Prior to that, she was Research Officer, Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum 1993-2011 where she was responsible for the library and archive collections and carried out research for the production of exhibitions. During the 1970s-1990s she worked on several ESRC funded projects using computerised nineteenth century British and early twentieth century Irish census records. She was a Junior Fellow in the Institute of Irish Studies, Queen’s University, Belfast and for many years was an associate lecturer with the Open University and a part-time tutor at Queen’s.
Following a Masters thesis on Irish migration and settlement into two Scottish towns (Dundee and Paisley) during the mid-nineteeenth century, her research and publications covered the broad field of demography and 19th century Irish emigration to Britain. This developed into an interest in and publications on various aspects of the Irish linen industry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She has also published extensively using census-based data analysis and on archival and comparative research methods.
Moving from quantitative to more qualitative sources, and following the award of two fellowships from the Huntington Library, California in 2007-8 and 2011-12, to study the Hastings (Irish) Papers, her main current research and publications are on the Rawdon and Conway families and their 17th century Lagan Valley estates.
She is on the editorial board of the journal Family and Community History, a trustee of the Ulster Aviation Society, vice chairman of Lisburn Buildings Preservation Trust and a Council member of Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society.