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18 September 2014
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History - A Very Short Introduction by John H Arnold (Oxford University Press, 2000) - A short and accessible book on doing history, what history is and why history matters. George Burdett is discussed, along with a number of other people and examples from the medieval period to the 19th century.

History in Practice Ludmilla Jordanova (Arnold, 2000) - An introductory guide that provides a keen insight into how academic historians do history, different varieties of historical study, and the public presentation of history.

Studying History by Jeremy Black and Donald M MacRaild (Macmillan, 2000) - Aimed particularly at university students, but also interesting for the general reader. It shows how history developed as a discipline, and includes some very useful chapters on using historical sources, along with advice on writing essays and taking exams.

The Pursuit of History by John Tosh (Longman, 1999) - This covers a wide variety of ways of doing history, explaining how historians work and write. It also has some very useful things to say about using historical sources.

A Guide to the Great Yarmouth Borough Records by Paul Rutledge (Norfolk Record Office, 1972) - This is just one example of the thousands of specialist texts that are produced (frequently by local record offices) as introductions to the use and understanding of particular kinds of historical sources.

English Society 1580-1680 by Keith Wrightson (Hutchinson, 1982) - This is the best textbook guide to early modern England and explains the context of George Burdett's society.

The Weaker Vessel by Antonia Fraser (Arrow, 1993) - Written for a popular audience, this looks specifically at the lives and roles of women in the early-modern period but also the society they inhabited.

The Birthpangs of Protestant England by Patrick Collinson (Macmillan, 1988) - An accessible overview to the religious conflicts and arguments from Burdett's time and place.

Cavaliers and Roundheads: The English at War, 1642-1649 by Christopher Hibbert (HarperCollins, 1994) - A readable account of the conflicts in the English Civil War aimed at a popular audience.

The Causes of the English Civil War by Ann Hughes (Macmillan, 1998) - This textbook on the Civil War explains clearly and intelligently what happened, and how different historians have argued about what happened. Aimed at students, it is nonetheless accessible and interesting.

Puritans and Yankees: the Winthrop Dynasty of New England by Richard Dunn (Princeton University Press, 1992) - This is a scholarly book that provides further details about John Winthrop and his family.

Domestic Dangers: Women, Words, and Sex in Early Modern London by Laura Gowing (Clarendon Press, 1996)

Sex in Middlesex: Popular Mores in a Massachusetts County - 1649-1699 by Roger Thompson (University of Massachusetts, 1986) - These two works might provide further context for George Burdett's licentious behaviour. Both are aimed primarily at academic readers, but are well-written and the material they study (sexual attitudes and insults) make them extremely readable!


The English, Welsh and Scottish County Record Offices provide family details, plus links to many other useful archive sites.

Historical Manuscripts Commission: This site allows you to search for a huge variety of historical documents in local and national archives in the United Kingdom.

British Library: The British Library can be accessed online, with useful explanations about types of sources, how to use the library and how to contact them. You can also search their catalogues through the web.

Public Records Office: A very useful website, allowing you to search their collections and explaining how to use them. The PRO catalogue provides details on central government, courts of law and other national bodies' archives.

Norfolk Record Office: This office houses the Great Yarmouth Assembly book. Most local archives have websites, and can usually be found via the local government pages for your local area.

Virtual Norfolk Site (University of East Anglia): This site is run in conjunction with the Norfolk Record Office. Although in its infancy, it is beginning to make accessible a variety of local historical sources, alongside explanations, comments and activities.

Jefferson Village, Virginia, USA: If you're interested in colonial America, this website is a very interesting place to explore the period around the American Civil War.

Places to visit

Aside from the national archives in London, historical records survive in local record offices throughout the country. These are open to the public (although you will need to register with them, as with a library) and should provide help to any amateur or local historian. Try visiting your local record office with some particular area of research in mind. The archivists will help you to locate particular sources that would be of use - though note that older sources will be in difficult handwriting, and documents from the medieval period (and indeed some later documents) will be written in Latin.

Some local archives, most local adult education centres, and most universities, will also offer extra-mural courses that might be of help and interest. Contact the relevant local body to find out what is on offer: with luck, you should be able to find courses on paleography, Latin, using particular kinds of sources, exploring local and family history, alongside more specialist courses on particular topics of historical study.

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Published: 28-01-2005

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