The sources revolution

John Beckett

in Writing Local History

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780719029509
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700679 | DOI:
The sources revolution

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This chapter focuses on the growth of access to records, and then at the way research has developed as a result of the consequent growth in the quantity and quality of records available to the local historian. One of the key problems for local historians in the past was access to sources. Various classes of public records were available for consultation, but these were widely scattered, and would-be researchers required plentiful resources of both time and money. The desire to improve access to research materials was one of the reasons that record publishing became popular in the nineteenth century. Every published edition of a source extended the range of possibilities for both national and local historians, but it was the principle of public responsibility for records, which really stimulated change. The founding of the Public Record Office in the mid-nineteenth century improved access to the national archives, and from 1889 the principle of local responsibility for archives was enshrined in the legislation creating county councils.

Keywords: sources revolution; Public Record Office; local historians; public records; county councils; national archives

Chapter.  8972 words. 

Subjects: Theory, Methods, and Historiography

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