Local history can focus on a village, town or geographic area. Telling its story doesn't have to be in the form of a year account, you can also look at themes that have shaped its development and the lives of the inhabitants. Is there anything that your town or village is particularly renowned for? A particular event that interests you?
A good starting point for the local historian is to look at works that have already been published. The more you read about the background of your subject, the better. To begin with, this information will be easier to find and read than original archive materials; it will also give you a good idea of how much, or how little, has been written, and where the gaps are. Check as many sources as you can, including the Local Studies collection, books in your local library, bookshops and the internet.
When looking into the history of a place, it is important to look at the surrounding area and greater county as well. No community lives in complete isolation from another, and you may find interesting or useful anecdotes from unlikely places.
Focusing on a period in time will help you narrow down the sources of information most useful to you. But just like location, be open to looking at archives material outside of your chosen dates, as it may show trends that led to an event or cultural shift.
Some good starting points for local research include:
Dedicated curators and volunteers research the social history of the East Riding, with new exhibits on show throughout the year. You can view past exhibitions on the East Riding Museums website for free. Take a look at the Museums Online page.
Local history is a popular topic, and there are many books for most towns and villages. There are many reference books for most towns and villages in the Archives, and Bridlington and Goole Local Studies Libraries hold a good selection. You can also borrow books for free with East Riding Libraries, or there are some for sale in the Treasure House gift shop.
Image: Discovering Local History by John Barrett. Reserve your copy on the East Riding Libraries catalogue.
This encyclopaedic record of England's places and people is an invaluable tool for the local historian. The information provided by the VCH covers the earliest known history of the village, its economic development; manors and estates, local government, the church, nonconformity, education and charities for the poor. There are currently seven volumes covering the East Riding of Yorkshire and work is still being undertaken today on areas that are not yet covered.
This full list of the Victoria County History can be found under Media and Published on our What's in the Archives page.
There are a number of independent museums in the East Riding, providing a rich resource for students of local history. Find an independent museum near you on the East Riding of Yorkshire Council website.