After graduating from Altrincham Grammar School for Boys and Trinity College, Oxford, Dr Archer started his academic career in 1986 as a Research Fellow at Girton College, the University of Cambridge. In 1989 he moved to Downing College, Cambridge where he was Director of Studies in History until 1991. After leaving Cambridge he transferred to Keble College, Oxford where he is Sub-Warden.
Currently, Dr Archer's primary research interests lie in the history of early modern London and ranges over a variety of issues in London history: charity, popular politics, taxation, and governance. Outside of his university work he was the Academic Editor of the Bibliography of British and Irish History, previously the Royal Historical Society Bibliography, where he was General Editor from 1999 until 2010. He is also a Literary Director of the Royal Historical Society with responsibility for the Camden Series and the Transactions of the Royal Historical Society. Additionally, he acts as an Academic Adviser to the Records of Early English Drama project.
He is the Chair of the Education Committee at the London Academy of Excellence Stratford, an Ofsted outstanding Free School.
- The Pursuit of Stability: Social Relations in Elizabethan London. (Cambridge, 1991)
- The History of the Haberdashers' Company. (Chichester, 1991)
- 'The Nostalgia of John Stow' in The Theatrical City: Culture, Theatre and Politics in London, 1576-1649. (Cambridge, 1995)
- 'The Burden of Taxation on Sixteenth-Century London', Historical Journal. Vol 44(3) (2001) pp. 599–627
- 'The Arts and Acts of Memorialization in Early Modern London 1598-1720' in Imagining Early Modern London: Perceptions and Portrayals of the City from Stow to Strype. (Cambridge, 2001) pp. 89–113
- 'Royal Historical Society Bibliography on British and Irish History ' in . (2002)
- 'Religion, Politics, and Society in Sixteenth-Century England' in Camden Society. Vol Fifth Series, 22 (Cambridge, 2003) pp. xi +282
- 'John Stow, Citizen and Historian' in John Stow (1525-1605) and the Making of the English Past: Studies in Early Modern Culture and the History of the Book. (London, 2004) pp. 13–26
- The Haberdashers' Company in the Later Twentieth Century. (Chichester, 2004) xiii + 178pp.
- 'Discourses of History in Elizabethan and Early Stuart London', Huntington Library Quarterly. Vol 68 Numbers 1 & 2 (2005) pp. 205–26