Getting started in local history

Local history

Where to begin?

  1. Clarify which area of local history you are interested in. Local history can cover a wider variety of topics including houses and buildings, streets, neighbourhoods, businesses, how people lived, photographs and memoirs. It can be a very large subject to tackle, so decide what and when you want your research to cover.
  2. The next step is see what has already been discovered about the local history of your local area. Your local library will have a range of books on the area and the wider locality, as well as information about other sources. These can be traced using our online catalogue.
  3. There are local and national history societies that will help you understand more about your local area and offer support in your research. They are an excellent way of meeting other people interested in researching local history and they usually run events, talks and displays.
  4. Talk to your friends and neighbours to see what they know or can remember about the area. If you have family members who have lived in the area for a long time, it could be useful to ask them what they remember. If you don't, try asking your neighbours to see if they know any history of the area.
  5. Depending on the leads that you have been given your next step will be to consult any of the following resources:
    • Census returns
    • Directories
    • Newspapers

    Many of these records can be accessed from the website Ancestry, which you can access free of charge from all Telford & Wrekin libraries.

  6. Photographs are an excellent source for researching local history. It is worth seeing if your local library has copies of published collections of photographs such as The Archive Photographs series. Photographic collections can also be found at Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust and Shropshire Archives.
  7. Keep careful notes and records of the sources you have used and the information you have found.

For information on researching the history of a house see our quick and easy guide. Our volunteers are available in the Community History Centre, Wellington to help you get started or further your local history search.

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