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Author: John Beckett

This book looks at how local history developed from the antiquarian county studies of the sixteenth century through the growth of ‘professional’ history in the nineteenth century, to the recent past. Concentrating on the past sixty years, it looks at the opening of archive offices, the invigorating influence of family history, the impact of adult education and other forms of lifelong learning. The book considers the debates generated by academics, including the divergence of views over local and regional issues, and the importance of standards set by the Victoria County History (VCH). Also discussed is the fragmentation of the subject. The antiquarian tradition included various subject areas that are now separate disciplines, among them industrial archaeology, name studies, family, landscape and urban history. This is an account of how local history has come to be one of the most popular and productive intellectual pastimes in our modern society.

Art, literature and antiquarianism in Europe, c. 1400–1700

This book brings together essays on the burgeoning array of local antiquarian practices that developed across Europe in the early modern era (c. 1400–1700). Adopting an interdisciplinary and comparative method it investigates how individuals, communities and regions invented their own ancient pasts according to the concerns they faced in the present. A wide range of ‘antiquities’ – real or fictive, Roman or pre-Roman, unintentionally confused or deliberately forged – emerged through archaeological investigations, new works of art and architecture, collections, history-writing and literature. This book is the first to explore the concept of local concepts of antiquity across Europe in a period that has been defined as a uniform ‘Renaissance’. Contributions take a new novel approach to the revival of the antique in different parts of Italy and also extend to other, less widely studied antiquarian traditions in France, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Britain and Poland. They examine how ruins, inscriptions and literary works were used to provide evidence of a particular idea of local origins, rewrite history or vaunt civic pride. They consider municipal antiquities collections in southern Italy and southern France, the antiquarian response to the pagan, Christian and Islamic past on the Iberian peninsula, and Netherlandish interest in megalithic ruins thought to be traces of a prehistoric race of giants. This interdisciplinary book is of interest for students and scholars of early modern art history, architectural history, literary studies and history, as well as classics and the reception of antiquity.

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John Beckett

XI Local history today In 1977 the Standing Conference for Local History established an independent committee to assess the pattern of interest, activity and study of local history in England and Wales. The committee, headed by the Oxford historian Lord Blake, met fourteen times between 1977 and 1979, received 701 items of written evidence, solicited comments from twenty-eight organisations and three individuals, and still found it could not really decide what local history actually was: There is no one accepted definition of local history. It has been suggested

in Writing local history
Tony Kushner

, murders, family jars, weddings, and banquets to esteemed fellow citizens, and a languid drooping interest in the rest of the spacious land. Was this inward-looking journalistic vision of the world not very provincial, asked Dewey, to which he responded, ‘No, not at all. Just local, just human, just at home, just where they live.’ 1 Dewey was convinced after the First World War and the growing movement in the United States for ‘Americanization’ that ‘We are discovering that the locality is the only universal. Even the suns and stars have their

in Anglo-Jewry since 1066
Jan Broadway

Chapter 4 . Sources for local history I t is a characteristic of early local historians that they were not willing to sacrifice substance in favour of style. They preferred to overburden their readers with evidence rather than to omit sources from their works. Habington justified transcribing four deeds into his account of one Worcestershire manor on the grounds that they were short and ‘cannot bee tedyous to any but suche whose tast cannot relyshe nor stomacke digest antiquityes’. Similarly, Lambarde included the Saxon will of Byrhtric of Mepham, ‘though

in ‘No historie so meete’
Lower office holders
Bernhard Zeller, Charles West, Francesca Tinti, Marco Stoffella, Nicolas Schroeder, Carine van Rhijn, Steffen Patzold, Thomas Kohl, Wendy Davies, and Miriam Czock

Local societies were not independent of their surroundings in most parts of western Europe in the early Middle Ages, perhaps with the exception of some very localised regions in northern Iberia. Most ‘small worlds’ belonged to regional or supra-regional networks and structures. Office holders and agents – ranging from mayors and priests to bishops, counts, viscounts and centenarii (hundredmen) – intervened in local affairs for landowners, kings and other lords they represented. Since kings, powerful lay aristocrats and religious institutions had large

in Neighbours and strangers
From Tarragona to Córdoba
Fernando Marías

7 Local antiquities in Spain: from Tarragona to Córdoba Fernando Marías Local history, rather than chorography (the textual or visual description of a local place), was a basic instrument in the construction of the collective consciousness, or ‘urban imagination’ in the words of Adeline Rucquoi, that stood at the heart of early modern communities in Spain. It was more an expression of local sentiment than a historical narrative, centralised and controlled by the court’s royal chronicler, an office (as is well known) instituted by King John II of Castile around

in Local antiquities, local identities
English county historical societies since the nineteenth century
Alan Kidd

2 Local history enthusiasts: English county historical societies since the nineteenth century Alan Kidd Today almost anyone who is seriously interested in the history of his or her local community would soon become aware of the numerous and varied societies, clubs and groups devoted to the study of our communal pasts. These historical societies with their programmes of lectures and activities, their newsletters and journals, constitute a rarely acknowledged dimension of civil society and an understudied element in the national cultures of history.1 This chapter

in People, places and identities
John Beckett

V Local history marginalised Until the nineteenth century no real distinctions existed within historical studies, hence the convenient term ‘antiquary’ to describe the various practitioners. There were no particular skills or methodologies, and the study of the past was in the hands of men with at most a classical training and a deep interest. The Society of Antiquaries may have been a meeting place, but it was not the keeper of standards; indeed, one of the more difficult accusations to counter, both for the Antiquaries and the Royal Society, was that they gave

in Writing local history
Abstract only
Florentine Quattrocento palaces and all’antica styles
Richard Schofield

A local Renaissance: Florentine Quattrocento palaces and all’antica styles1 1 Richard Schofield In some cities in the fifteenth century, satisfying medieval architectural continuums had been established for certain categories of buildings which made the introduction of all’antica styles unnecessary or even undesirable. Fifteenth-century Florentine private palaces demonstrate perfectly the inertia of local traditions, and the architects who built their facades, as opposed to their courtyards, largely ignored the siren voices proclaiming that Florence was a

in Local antiquities, local identities