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18 September 2014
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City Local History: Top Tips

By Dr Charles Insley
You are not alone

Image of sources for local history students
Tools of the urban historian's trade 
The writing of history can be a very solitary exercise but it need not be that way. In fact, local history can be a very sociable activity. Most places have an active local history society, or local studies group so its worth trying to find out.

If you are unlucky enough to live in a place that does not have such a group then why not start one? Again, you should be able to find details of what is going on in your area in the local studies section of the library.

'... local history classes can also provide specific skills training, such as palaeography ...'

There are a number of other things you can do. Although, sadly, university extra-mural education seems to be on the wane, it is still possible to find extra-mural or adult education classes in local history. These are most certainly worth joining for a number of reasons, as are WEAs (Workers Education Associations).

Firstly, they allow you to meet other people working on similar topics and provide access to professional expertise and academic local historians. These kinds of local history classes can also provide specific skills training, such as palaeography - the reading of old documents.

However, it has to be said that it's possible there may be no such classes in your area on the sorts of topics which interest you. There are still some other possibilities: it's always worth contacting the history department of your local university. Whilst academic historians are busy people, there may be professional historians locally who can offer advice and suggestions.

Published: 2005-03-07

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