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18 September 2014
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First Steps in Local History

By Dr Alan Crosby
Learn as you go along

Image of Cliff Howe studying an old newspaper
Studying yesterday's papers 
Local history, like family history, is accessible to people who do not have previous historical training or experience. You can learn the necessary skills as you go along.

Courses are held all over the country which will help you do this more systematically, and there are plenty of places to seek advice, information and encouragement (see Go further). But one of the most exciting aspects of local history is that anybody can find new information, discover new evidence, and reach new conclusions about what was happening in the past. Many local historians are 'ordinary' people who enjoy the fascination of history and have set about finding more about their area.

You do not need a qualification, you do not need rarefied expertise, you do not need difficult skills, and you do not need to have an academic background. But there are some things that you definitely do need:

  • Patience - the answers don't always come straight away
  • Perseverance - the conclusions won't be given to you 'on a plate'
  • An enquiring mind - you are striking off into the unknown
  • To be methodical and tidy - you must keep your notes in good order
  • To enjoy a challenge - you set yourself a task to be accomplished
  • To have a sense of purpose - you want to achieve a goal

Published: 2005-03-02

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