Local history is the study of the history of a relatively small geographic area; typically a specific settlement, parish or county. English local history came to the fore with the antiquarians of the 19th century and was particularly emphasised by the creation of the Victoria County History series in England. Its establishment as a formal academic discipline is usually credited to W. G. Hoskins who also popularised the subject with his book The Making of the English Landscape.
There is incidental material in the writings of Bede which can be used for local history although he wrote a national rather than local history. During the late medieval, travel writers such as John Leland frequently visited and described local antiquities, although once again, these writers did not set out to write local history. The Tudor period saw the publication of national gazetteers (for example Camden) that frequently contained brief local histories. The eighteenth century saw the emergence of county historians such as Nichols and Morant who were arguably the first local historians. These writers took an interest in subjects that are currently unfashionable (such as manorial descents), but often contain important details which can be used by a modern local historian. The nineteenth century saw the widespread publication of parish histories – often written by the local minister. In 1899, the Victoria County History project began to provide a sound academic basis for local history. The early twentieth century saw individuals in universities with job titles related to local history, but the first department of Local History was established at Leicester in 1947. Interest in local history expanded in the second half of the twentieth century both in numbers and scope. Contemporary researchers gather the conclusions from a wide range of academic disciplines.
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