Much of the recent past is still accessible in the form of the buildings around us. The vast majority of these buildings, especially in large towns and industrial centres, will date from the past 150 years.
'The further back we go, the scarcer and more problematic the evidence.'
People's recollections are not necessarily the most accurate form of evidence, but they are sometimes the most interesting and lend a personal dimension to the history of the places in which we live.
Once the historian looks back beyond the 19th century, sources become scarcer, less well collected, quite often not printed and sometimes more difficult to use. The further back we go, the scarcer and more problematic the evidence.
Medieval urban records are invariably in Latin, whilst early modern records (those from the 16th and 17th centuries) are often in difficult-to-read handwriting. This is not meant to deter you from looking at the distant past but to advise you that it brings its own problems, none of which are insuperable.