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Local History for Continuing Education: Local History on the Web

A guide to finding information on Local History resources in the Rewley House Continuing Education Library

Archaeology Data Service

Archaeology Data Service is a key database of resources on UK Archaeology and the Historic Environment from the Palaeolithic to the present day.

Use ARCHSEARCH to search and browse the Historic England National Record of the Historic Environment and other  UK historic environment inventories.

Use LIBRARY to access unpublished fieldwork reports; to search references to archaeological literature (especially older publications); to access a number of journal titles, including older issues of local history and archaeological society journals.

National Archives

The National Archives

The National Archives is a good place for finding records relating to sites and their owners. Searching is free, but you may need to pay to download documents or to have prints sent to you.

The Records section of the site gives guidance on searching for different types of information. You will also find a link to In-depth research guides on researching people, places and subjects.

Local and other national archive resources

This section offers links to local and national archive resources.

Key resources

This box lists some key web resources on Local History that are freely available to all.  Many towns, cities and counties have their own societies which may also have websites.  If you are interested in a particular location, try a Google search, e.g. for Chepstow, Gwent, try typing 'local history Chepstow' in the Google search box and click on the results!

What local archives hold and how to access them

Local archives are sometimes called local history or local studies centres or something similar.  They will hold primary and secondary course material on many aspects of the local and community life of a particular area and will include parish records (vestry minutes), maps (tithe maps, parish maps, ordnance survey maps etc), records of local societies and charities (secular and religious), local newspapers, census returns, visual material (photographs and drawings), oral testimony, diaries and journals of local individuals, local government papers, records of local businesses, legal records etc. 

Not all local archives will hold every type of material so check the website and search the online catalogue if there is one.  If planning to visit a particular archive in person this is essential and it is always a good idea to contact the staff to let them know what you wish to consult to make sure that it is available before you go. Be aware that not everything held by local archives will necessarily have been catalogued and staff may be able to produce uncatalogued material.

Maps for Local and Family History

The National Archives website gives links to several sources, eg tithe maps, enclosure maps and the Ordnance Survey. See

For Oxfordshire resources, see  County record offices and local history societies 

Old-Maps describes itself as Britain's most comprehensive historical map archive. There's plenty on offer on a free-to-browse basis as well as subscription services.

Other Bodleian libguides

As the study of Local History involves various other disciplines, you may find the following Bodleian libguides useful: