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Local studies today are very different from those of the early 20th century. They deal in questions and themes, use a range of sources transformed by public archive provision and changes in attitude to what is relevant, employ more systematic methods, have access to transforming tools when it comes to dealing with the mass of detailed information that characterises local research, and involve many more people with different interests and experience. There are strong links between local research and many aspects of general and national history. Landscape history, demography, economic history, social history, political history, cultural studies and anthropology, religious history, and personal and family history are all examples of this. Interdisciplinary work is a welcome consequence. Such developments link with the shared agenda already mentioned (see Local History: Why and How?)
These changes have developed since the late 1940s as a series of new approaches have influenced both academic and grass roots local studies, and the two have come together, particularly in the fields of archaeology, local history and architectural history, conservation and environment. Oxford University now has courses in these subjects at every level from day and summer schools and weekly classes to online Advanced Diplomas, to Master’s degrees and opportunities for full- and part-time doctoral research. At the same time, and sometimes supported by such opportunities, individuals and local groups have become involved in increasing numbers, with over 60 local history and archaeology groups in Oxfordshire today. Family historians have also made links, including shared interests in publishing original research sources like the 19th-century census enumerators’ returns, and individual involvement in exploring the wider context of their families’ lives. A number of excellent academic studies have been based on Oxfordshire evidence (see a selected list of Oxfordshire studies here).
The results have included an increasing pace of publication and writing, in dissertation, book, journal, and pamphlet forms. (See, for example Oxford University MSc Dissertations in English Local History). The existing journals like Oxoniensia continue to play an important part. Others have now been added.
Oxfordshire Local History is the journal of the Oxfordshire Local History Association (OLHA). The Association was formed in 1980 as an umbrella organisation for local history societies and a link between lay and professional local historians. Its journal originally appeared twice a year, and now occasionally. A full list of published volumes is at Oxfordshire Local History Index (2009). Berkshire Local History Association was formed in 1976 and since 1983 has published a journal, Berkshire Then and There, published annually.
A number of more local publications have added to the rich vein of work undertaken by local history groups.Cake and Cockhorse is published by the Banbury Historical Society. The society
was founded in 1957 with the stated aim of encouraging interest in the history of the town and its neighbouring districts. Cake and Cockhorse was first published in 1959 and has continued with three publications per year. Many but the most recent are available on-line via the Cherwell Valley District Council website (select ‘advanced search at the top right of the page and then check ‘Banbury Historical Society - Cake and Cockhorse’).
The Wychwoods Local History Society was formed in 1881 and researches and publishes both local and family history. The annual journal, Wychwoods History was first published in 1995 and a full list of articles can be viewed at the Wychwoods History website Copies of all publications can be purchased from the society or can be viewed at the Bodleian library and Oxford University Department for Continuing Education library.
Coral Rag is the journal of the Marcham Society , founded in 1994 to fostercommunity interest in the history, natural history and environment of the village and local area. It commenced in Spring 2001 and an index of the articles is available at the Coral Rag Index.
A further local society is the annual publication of The Eynsham History Group, established in 1959. It has published 24 journals and also has its own webpages on the parish site.
Publication on Oxfordshire history is now more diverse and extensive than ever. Both past and present contributions vary in quality and aspirations, demonstrating both the strengths and the weaknesses of local studies. The starting point for any new local study will be to review as many of them relevant to a chosen place and period and theme of research as possible, and to build on them on the way to making new contributions.
Local Studies in Academic Journals
Valuable research on Oxfordshire and
Anglo-Saxon Studies in Archaeology and History
Journal of Roman Studies
Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
Oxfordshire is covered by two regional history journals:
National journals devoted to local studies are:
Family and Community History
Local Population Studies
The Local Historian
International Journal of Local and Regional Studies
National journals on subjects allied to, and sometimes featuring, local history are:
Agricultural History Review
Continuity and Change
Economic History Review
History Workshop Journal
Industrial Archaeology Review
Journal of Transport History
Labour History Review
Past and Present
Social History of Medicine