Local history today
in Writing local history
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This chapter focuses on the status of current local history. Today local history needs to be issue driven, and should not just be source driven. A local historian might become interested in studying the past because they find a collection of documents, whether these are house deeds or newspapers or something similar, but studying only the one source is never going to produce good quality local history. As the range of sources has widened, the need to link the material together has also grown. All historians recognise that the wealthier the evidence, the stronger the case being made. Training is partly designed to raise awareness. Not knowing or understanding the nature of evidence given to the 1842 Royal Commission on the Employment of Children would significantly disadvantage the local historian interested in the social structure of the Durham coalfield in the nineteenth century. This is because of the light it sheds on the communities of the Durham coalfield, which can usefully be combined with evidence from local newspapers and literary sources.

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