Writing about local history brings out all sorts of people you just wouldn’t expect. Every time I write a history piece at least one person with local links i have never heard of before contacts me out of the blue, either adding in their own perspective because they were there or asking about relative. This amateur history of my street has yielded quite a few email contacts.
We tend to assume wrongly that the web is a youngish people’s medium – local history articles on the web disprove this and attract seniors with fascinating, often moving stories. This piece on some old slum buildings in the area turned up some hair raising conversations about slum living from people who lived there (follow the link in article and scroll down to ‘Beaconsfield Buildings’). Family history of course is one of the biggest things on the net and people are constantly scouring Google trying to glean scraps of information about where their relatives lived in the distant past. I had a long correspondence with someone trying to pinpoint a relatives house in a long demolished slum around the corner.
This piece on the blitz in Kings Cross brought to light some remarkable local history in the comments and by email.
I occasionally pop down to the Council’s local history centre or turn somethign new up in Google. Would be interesting to hear how others write about local history – your sources, approach and what feedback you get.