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Researching Local History (Paperback)

Your Guide to the Sources

Local History Family History P&S History

By Stuart A. Raymond
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526779427
Published: 28th June 2022


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How has the place we live in changed, developed, and grown over the centuries? That is the basic question local historians seek to answer. The answer is to be found in the sources of information that previous generations have left us. The records of parish, county, and diocesan administration, of the courts, of the national government, and of private estates, all have something to tell us about the history of the locality we are interested in. So do old newspapers and other publications. All of these sources are readily available, but many have been little used.

Local historians come from a wide diversity of backgrounds. But whether you are a student researching a dissertation, a family historian interested in the wider background history of your family, a teacher, a librarian, an archivist, an academic, or are merely interested in the history of your own area, this book is for you. If you want to research local history, you need a detailed account of the myriad sources readily available. This book provides a comprehensive overview of those sources, and its guidance will enable you to explore and exploit their vast range. It poses the questions which local historians ask, and identifies the specific sources likely to answer those questions.

This book does exactly what you want when you want to learn about doing local history research, this book shows you how to research people, local government, agriculture, trade, business and leisure records and occupations.

Read the full review here

The History Fella

"This book is well laid out and its contents readily accessible. The guidance enables one to explore and exploit the myriad sources available and exploit their vast range of information. It is a valuable guide not just for students, librarians, archivists and academics but for anyone researching local history, whether it be about a place, an individual, a family or an historical event."

Norfolk Family History Society - 'The Ancestor' magazine

If you have ancestors from England or Wales this book is well worth reading for the different perspective it provides, as well as the links to key articles in back issues of The Local Historian – a valuable resource in itself.

Read the full review here

Lost Cousins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One of the difficulties of doing genealogical research is the access to items not readily available in ancestry.com. Those working on their family trees will then have to make trip overseas to see what is available and are often faced with systems structured differently than what they are used to at home. Stuart A. Raymond's "Researching Local History" is a comprehensive guide to what you should look for, where to find it, and what it all means. He details the the structure of local government, the Domesday Book, and other great areas where you might not think to look. This is a very helpful guide for finding information in the UK, with plenty of references to other books records, and websites. I wish other countries would create something similar for all those researching their roots.

NetGalley, Maria Doktor

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As someone who has already had two local; history books about Exeter published, I was curious to see what Stuart A Raymond's book had to offer. In short, I was very impressed. The book is packed with useful information and guidance as to the best sources to use for anyone contemplating any serious local history research for a book or anything else. Invaluable.

NetGalley, Chris Hallam

As featured in

Family Tree

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Stuart A. Raymond’s book, Researching Local History: Your Guide to the Sources, is going to cost me so much money! No, not the price of the book (which is very good value indeed, given current book prices), but many of the other books and journals that Raymond mentions. I was unaware of several of the journals and I also now have a long shopping list of books. To be fair, though, several of the journals he mentions make older issues freely available online.

If you are really interested in researching history yourself, rather than reading stuff written by others, this book is invaluable. Before finishing Chapter 2, I was weeping with joy because I’d bookmarked a website containing stuff I’d previously been told wasn’t available online. (Private Bills of Parliament authorising the construction of railways in the 1800s, since you ask!) By the end of the book, I had many more bookmarked sites. Stuart Raymond has been studying local history for over 50 years and REALLY knows his sources.

The book is structured well, with chapters covering
- What is English Local History?
- Preliminaries to Research.
- People and Population.
- National and Local Government.
- Landed Property, Wealth and Poverty.
- Agricultural history
- Trade, Industry and Occupations
- Living Conditions, Education, Religion and Leisure

“Preliminaries to Research” tells the reader where to find sources about sources. That is, it suggests bibliographies, websites, specialist libraries and societies that can provide lists of sources for your chosen topic. The Museum of English Rural Life was a new one for me. That one chapter contains references to
100+ Webpages
50+ Books
10 journal articles

“People and Population” doesn’t just mention the usual suspects such as the births, marriages and deaths registers, but also sites like www.histpop.org that give summary reports based upon census information. Several chapters refer the reader to articles in scholarly journals such as the Agricultural History Review, where the issues from 1953-2018 are freely available online.

The chapters inevitably overlap. The Domesday Book, for example, appears several times. That’s understandable: it tells us who lived somewhere and what they did; what the land was used for; how much it was worth; etc.. Initially, I was a little impatient with the numerous references to the National Archives guides but then I realised that Raymond’s one line reference to a well-written comprehensive 2-3 page guide prevents his book being much much longer and more expensive. Thank you, Mr Raymond!

I cannot believe how useful this book is and I’m about to recommend it to everyone on my MA degree course. Thank you, Pen and Sword, for sending me an early copy to review – and thank you, thank you, thank you, Mr Raymond for writing this book.

NetGalley, Colin Edwards

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I eagerly look forward to any new Pen and Sword publications as I know how beneficial they have been to my family history research. I’ve found previous books by Stuart A Raymond very useful and interesting
Even as someone who has been compiling their family tree for a while now I seem to find something of use in every new publication .
It’s really helpful to know where to look for information to attach to names on your family tree, such as the area they lived in , and how different their lives would have been to now.
A very interesting and informative read which I’m sure will continue to be of use when I’m looking into the lives of my ancestors.

NetGalley, Alison Bevington
 Stuart A. Raymond

About Stuart A. Raymond

Stuart Raymond has been studying local history for almost 50 years. He was formerly librarian of the Yorkshire Archaeological Society, and assistant librarian at Deakin University. He has made many contributions to local history journals, and has written numerous handbooks for both local and family historians, for example, The Wills of Our AncestorsTracing your Ancestors Parish RecordsTracing Your Ancestors in County RecordsTracing Your Nonconformist AncestorsTracing Your Church of England AncestorsTracing Your Roman Catholic Ancestors, and Tracing your Poor Ancestors. His recent work, Stourton before Stourhead: A History of the Parish 1550-1750, demonstrates the uses to which the sources described in this book can be put.

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