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Getting started

Getting Started in Local and Community History

Discovering the history of your locality and its community can be a fascinating and exciting experience. Have you ever wondered who used to live in your house, or what an area would have been like over a hundred years ago? Perhaps you would like to find out more about your community and how it has developed and changed over the years.

This online guide uses a series of themes to explore the sources available to further your research at the Archive Service and the William Salt Library. Each theme heading links to a series of related sub-themes and, where relevant, online guides to sources and catalogues.

Defining your project

Local history can be fascinating and it’s easy to get side-tracked, so setting out your aims and objectives from the outset can help to keep you focussed on your priorities. It also helps to give your project a structure. Even if you need to make changes to the scope of the project later on, it’s still a worthwhile process to go through.

If you would like some advice at the planning stage please email staffordshire.record.office@staffordshire.gov.uk 

Collaborative effort, or ‘one-man band’?

Projects can seem quite daunting when facing them on your own. Consider involving other people, either for defined parts of the project (such as digital graphics or photography) or to make the whole project a team effort. You will find that everyone learns new skills and develops their knowledge, and hopefully a better end product results. Last, but not least, the social aspects of a team project can be very rewarding.

Not quite ready to start your own project?

If you would like to get involved in something that’s already going on, rather than set up your own project, why not take a look at volunteering opportunities within the Archive Service?

Planning a visit to an archive or library

Here is a quick checklist:

  • Check up on current opening hours, as they may have changed since your last visit
  • Reserve a table in advance of your visit
  • Find out if you need to register, and if so, what proof of identity or address you might need to take with you
  • Ask for advice on the available sources for the next stage of your research. Outline your project and then move on to a specific question.
  • Remember to take notepaper and pencils (or a laptop!).

For further guidance please see the planning a visit section of our website.

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