Did you know that May is Local and Community History Month?
The aim is to raise awareness of local history – often forgotten besides the histories of people such as Henry VIII or events such as the Second World War. But it’s also a chance to promote history to local communities and get people involved.
Getting involved in a local history group is also a great way to meet other people who are also interested in history, so like-minded people, and you can learn a lot from each other.
The Local and Community History Month is organised by the Historical Association. It’s a chance to get out and about in your area, and really delve into how your local area has changed, what’s happened and why, the local characters involved, how it connected with the outside world and so forth. The Association have 10 Top Tips for Researching the History of Where You Live so this would be a great place to start and there will be events going on all over the country.
One great source of local history is of course newspapers. Thanks to a great project between the British Library and the British Newspaper Archive, there are now over 52 million pages of newspapers you can access online through a subscription. They’re adding more and more pages each week and you can see the new titles being added here. So you can find out all about local history in your area even if you are still restricted, or do your research online and then head off to spot history, stand where it happened, and imagine what life would have been like.
The British Newspaper Archive gives us a chance to see what readers wanted to read about and hear about, what was popular to sell and buy at the time – the advertisements are a great source of information – and what sort of social events were held. You can give a gift subscription for one month or choose to run it for longer.
Local and Community History Month is also an opportunity to raise awareness of the Historical Association itself.
The Historical Association has a number of memberships, including a Gift Membership – and the Historian Membership which is for anyone who just loves history. There are also different memberships for those involved in the subject at primary or secondary level and you can see what the different membership levels include here. The website on its own is a massive mine of information for people involved at a professional level e.g. history teachers or wannabe history teachers but there’s also lots of articles and topics of interest for people who just love the subject.
Historian Membership of the Historical Association includes The Historian, the quarterly magazine of the Historical Association
image ©Historical Association
Historian Members receive The Historian quarterly magazine (not every membership includes this) and you can download a free copy by registering online to see what it’s like. It’s a great gift for anyone who teaches or studies history – or who just loves it. I did History for my degree and still love immersing myself in the past to escape from the craziness of this modern world we live in and daily routine!
Memberships help support the Association’s mission to develop the teaching, learning and enjoyment of history at all levels, for generations to come.
Members also have free access to over 350 high-quality podcast talks by history experts; these cover historical periods, regions and themes, so there’s plenty to discover!
The Historical Association was originally established in part to bring people together who were interested history, and there are over 45 local branches around the UK meeting regularly. Branches organise a programme of speakers every year so that members and the public can hear from historians and researchers. You can find your closest branch here. They may also be history visits and CPD events, it depends on the branch.
There's also the British Association for Local History, which is the national association devoted to local history. It publishes books and pamphlets on local history, and it also publishes both The Local Historian, a quarterly journal, and Local History News, a topical magazine. It has lots of resources online, plus events and there are even classroom exercises to bring local history into the classroom! There are several different types of membership. Visit the British Association for Local History here
You could also think about giving a magazine subscription which covers a particular area of the UK - a county, for instance - or a particular theme such as walking. isubscribe.co.uk has lots of choice - view their range here.