[okfn-discuss] Local History Portal
ian.elsom at btinternet.com
Fri Jun 26 13:37:55 BST 2009
I’m new to the list. Jonathan asked me to write a short post about Local History portal sites and what I require from them. I have looked at just four. There may be more.
The first two make me angry because they don’t have a local history heart. The third is terrific. Its aim is “to help meet the needs of anyone with an interest in local history” and it does this admirably. The fourth is a curiosity. It gives the impression of knowing where everything is. It will, amongst other services, supply information to specific enquiries or direct you to sources relevant to your enquiry. But I don’t want to “do” my local history this way.
I range widely in time and space (in my home office) and whenever I fetch up somewhere new I would like to be able to find out quickly if it has already been studied, written about, mapped and/or photographed. And has anyone compiled data from primary sources already and made it freely available so that I don’t have to spend hours doing it myself! If the ground has already been covered I want to be able to assess how well it has been done. If I feel capable of adding something new I will do; otherwise I’ll learn something while engaging with the existing work and then move on.
Local history seems to be as good a subject area as any upon which to trial ways of creating lists, catalogues, indexes and repositories for books, articles, theses, images etc. I expect it would take a long time to grow such resources so in the meanwhile I would like to put out messages – I am researching This Place or Person for This Reason, can anyone help? In return I would look out to help others and, of course, make the final elements of my researches – texts, maps, photographs and datasets – open to anyone to use. The other day I downloaded a PDF of a PhD Thesis. No fuss, no bother. Great. But I happened upon it by chance. An appropriately designed and built Local History Portal (complementary to Local History Online and not duplicating their effort) may allow me to do this time and again by design.
Local History can be woven in much the same way as National but the resulting fabric is very different! That is something the first two portals above simply don’t understand.
I look forward to your comments.
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