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18 September 2014
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City Local History: Top Tips

By Dr Charles Insley
First steps

Image of photographs of Upper Street in Islington, London
A photographic trail of urban history 
By now you may be well into your research, having established what it is you hope to do and started looking at sources. The message here is to be patient - discovering the history of your town or city can take time - so be careful and methodical.

Keep your notes and materials properly organised and make sure you always write the reference of a source down, whether it is a page from a book or an article, or a document in your local record office. If you do not, you can be sure that at some point you will need to go back to that source.

'The past is out there, if you know where to look.'

Always keep in mind what it is you are looking to achieve: there are so many interesting aspects of urban history that it can be very easy to lose track of what you set out to do and go off at a tangent.

The past is out there, if you know where to look. With just a little bit of thought and a trip or two to the library, it is very easy to start looking at the history around you. The history of our towns and cities is rich and varied and there is something to whet everyone's appetite.

As you delve into the sources, whether at your local record office, the Public Records Office or even by just looking at the buildings around you, the experiences of our towns and cities come alive. Try it and see if you can look at your town with the eyes of an urban historian.

Published: 2005-03-07

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