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Pedagogical Aspects of Local and Community History:
Final Report
Alison Twells
October 2007
Description of project
Groups of 'local history' enthusiasts have proliferated in recent
years, many forming in areas not traditionally associated with Local
History Association-type activities. In particular, 'regeneration'
initiatives have placed considerable emphasis on local history as a
means of bringing together potential community participants,
inspiring pride in the locality, and developing skills and confidence.
A Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s consultation document,
‘Culture at the Heart of Regeneration’ (2004) emphasised the need
for evidence-based examples of culture’s impact on regeneration.
Two key areas were highlighted: A Sense of Place, which focused on
positive outcomes on the physical environment; and Delivering for
Communities, building individual capacity and community
engagement. At the same time, many universities are increasingly
attracting ‘local’ students, and as part of the widening participation
agenda, are keen to attract non-traditional entrants. The key focus
of this project was to explore the pedagogical aspects of 'local
history' and 'community history', especially in terms of facilitating
enthusiasm and motivation for the study of history in a variety of
Aims and objectives
The project explored the practice of ‘local history’ in two contexts:
in ‘regeneration’ projects in the Sheffield region; and by first-year
students taking an innovative local history module at the University
of Gävle in Sweden.
It had the following objectives:
1. To explore the extent to which the pursuit of ‘local history’ in
the context of regeneration projects inspires confidence and
enthusiasm; whether this translates into a desire to pursue
the study of history at higher education level; the possibilities
presented for university widening participation agendas.
2. To understand more about the motivational aspects of local
history through investigating a successful first-year local
history project run by historians at the Swedish University of
Gävle. This university has a strongly ‘first-generation’ and
regional student population. As so many universities in the UK
are moving towards a local intake, and many, like Sheffield
Hallam, are periodically struggling with the 'culture' of first
year students, I was keen to explore what history lecturers in
British universities might learn from the Gävle experience.
3. To evaluate student responses to a new third year module,
Community History, in terms of the enhancement of student
learning; and to design a new first-year module on local
public history, which combines both theory and practice and
places an emphasis on independent learning.
1. Local and Community History in Sheffield
For this part of the project, I met with local historians associated
with three very different community history initiatives in the
Sheffield region. I interviewed both key workers and, where
appropriate, community participants at the following projects:
Burngreave Voices; the Burton Street Community History Project;
and the Beighton Project. There are such vast differences in terms
of the range and scope of their activities and the extent and terms
of involvement of the community, that it is best to consider each
one in turn.
Burngreave Voices
This is a three-year project, coming to an end in April 2007, jointly
funded by Burngreave New Deal for Communities and Sheffield
Galleries and Museums Trust. Burngreave is one of Sheffield’s most
deprived areas. Once a salubrious suburb, it has been since the
postwar period the home of generations of immigrant and, more
recently, refugees and asylum seekers. There is a higher than
average unemployment rate and relatively low educational
achievement. The area is a designated ‘New Deal’ area, and in
receipt of £50million regeneration funds. The Project Worker, Nikky
Wilson, sees community history in terms of stories about lives, and
is interested in 'living history', rather than archival sources
(although some archival work, especially in relation to oral history,
is being done). She views community history as a ‘tool for
community engagement’, especially among groups who don’t
usually get to tell their stories or to participate in local development
initiatives. For example, she undertook interviews with Yemeni
women which were then printed in the local independent
Burngreave Messenger. The emphasis is on the positive aspects of
the locality, pride and identity.
Burngreave Voices has undertaken a range of activities, some of
which have proved more popular and successful than others. These
have included:
 an impressive local history pack, investigating social change
over the past two centuries, was written by the project
workers and a local primary school teacher;
 a play about the visit to Sheffield in 1790 of the black antislavery activist Olaudah Equiano was written by Dead Earnest
Theatre Company and performed at all four primary schools
during Black History Month in 2005 and 2006;
 Community events held in local parks. For example, a
Victorian Tea Party was held at Abbeyfield Park in September
 Vocational placements with Sheffield’s Millennium Galleries
through the Apprenticeships for All scheme;
 oral history interviews have been undertaken and form a
community archive;
 The project is to round off with a book, website and an
Some initiatives have not taken off. Individual family-based history
activities, called ‘Who do you think you are?’ after the popular TV
programme, saw little take-up, and Local History courses (run by
the WEA) did not recruit. Nikky speculated as to why this might be
and especially why there appeared to be so much less interest
among ethnic minority communities (the dynamic with a white
interviewer, the difficulty of sharing some memories, the feeling
that their stories were not ‘real’ history, the issue of some
communities being very much less settled than others etc). This
requires further investigation, however, especially in the light of
successful oral history projects conducted by public history workers,
especially museums staff, among ethnic minority communities in
other parts of the country (e.g. East Midlands) and indeed within
the African-Caribbean community in Burngreave itself.
The levels of individual community engagement in culturally mixed
Burngreave is in contrast with that in the white working-class
communities and ex-community of Beighton and Owlerton.
The Burton Street Project, Owlerton, Sheffield
The Burton Street History Project is part of the Burton Street
Project, based in a school in an area of Sheffield 6 that no longer
exists as a residential district. Once a large working-class
community of terraced housing, the area was cleared in the 1960s
and 1970s and its population dispersed, mostly locally.
The History Project began in 2000 with a school reunion mailing list
of a few hundred names. The project workers, Penny Hardcastle
and Molly Powell, began to contact the people on the list, and were
contacted in return by many more ex-pupils. They began an oral
history of the school (2000) and of people who lived/worked in the
area (from 2003). On each occasion, they had no difficulty
persuading people to be involved. People enjoyed coming back,
meeting old acquaintances, reminiscing about an area in which two
or three generations of the same family had lived in the same
house, but which had gone by 1975.
The project held reunions, gathered photographic evidence and
artefacts and encouraged people to write about their memories. The
Schools Project took older people into schools in north-west
Sheffield to talk about aspects of history. Particular emphasis was
placed on life in Sheffield during the war and the experience of
evacuation. The speakers received prepared questions from
students, took in artefacts and displays, and talked to students.
Although aspects of the schools’ work have been very successful, its
dependence upon the teacher's engagement with and commitment
to the project can make it an unpredictable venture. Penny and
Molly plan to develop the reminiscence work, using memory maps
as a tool for generating written memories.
I also interviewed participants in the reminiscence and schools
projects. Seven people came to the meeting in May 2006. All had
been pupils, at different times, at Burton Street school (built in
1879). They had been brought together by school reunions, and had
had a number of enjoyable get-togethers, at which there was a
really good atmosphere. One person speculated as to whether the
events were so successful because the area no longer existed as a
residential district. The group talked about the point in life when the
interest arises, and agreed that it was often at a certain age, as
your own parents die, emerging with the realisation of your own
mortality. Their own children were not yet interested. It was often
women, although not exclusively, who were the keepers of
memories and photos.
Much of the conversation consisted of reminiscence: discussion
included the date the houses around Capel Street and Burton Street
were built; the design of houses, their condition (crickets and bugs
and tarring the walls); the size of families; the local shops, brewery
and Cunios ice cream; the rent man, the pikelet man; chapel,
Upperthorpe slipper baths, Hillsborough Park, and childhood games.
In these discussions, the enthusiasm for local history and
enjoyment of reminiscing was very much in evidence.
A number of people present had been involved in the schools’
projects. The general feeling was these sessions had been very
successful; the children had been really interested; the visitors
talked of being ‘stumped’ by the ‘quality’ of the questions that they
were asked. People felt that they remembered more as a result, and
were further enthused to record their memories. One member of
the group, for example, had started writing his memories down as a
result of one such visit. The themes had included evacuation,
growing up in the 1950s and clothes, toys and childhood games.
When probed about what it is they believed is important for children
to know about the past, people emphasised the difference from life
today and how it felt to live such a life: feelings about the war and
being away from home and family; about having to make your own
entertainment; and about poverty. The children ‘can’t comprehend
how poor we were’, one man said, and reminisced about wearing
Wellington boots all year round, the tops turned down in the
summer, and rolled up in winter. It felt important that children
knew how hard things were, but also that, despite the poverty, it
was a good childhood.
I have reflected on some of these points, especially about the issue
of nostalgia in relation to childhood, and about poverty and material
change. For example, it can be assumed from the discussion that
the members of the group at Burton street had, in their own
families and communities, experienced considerable material
improvement since the Second World War. The same might not be
true of all children in the city today, however, but there seemed no
where of introducing these issues at this point without appearing to
undermine feelings and experiences. The work of an inexperienced
oral historian, maybe!
People extended their historical interests in different ways. One
chap had a particular interest in the census and in other aspects of
Sheffield history, such as the men who died in WW1. He enjoyed
local history items on the radio and had compiled his own file – of
newspaper cuttings etc. - relating to Burton Street. One woman was
a member of Sheffield and Owlerton Local History. For another,
doing family history, especially tracing the Irish side of his family
tree, had given him more reasons to travel: to Tipperary and to the
USA in search of ancestors. He found family history really exciting,
and had attended family history sessions at Sheffield University. A
number of people were interested in becoming involved in new
phases of the Burton Street project, especially in a book about
experiences of the war. It appears that the interest is very ‘local’,
albeit bound up in national themes, and no-one expressed an
interest in pursuing the study of history in a more formal setting
(i.e. a history degree).
The Beighton Project
The final project investigated is Discover Beighton, the community
heritage strand of the wider ‘Full Circle’ Project, which was
established in the ex-mining community of Beighton in 2002. This
operated on a far grander scale than either of the previous two,
largely on the basis of a £300,000 programme, funded by Objective
1 South Yorkshire, a funding stream for ex-mining and steel
communities in the region. 'Full Circle' was coordinated by Eventus,
a ‘cultural planning and development agency that uses creativity as
a catalyst for change’ based in Sheffield. Eventus saw its role as
'community capacity building’. There have been three main strands
to the work: Time Works (public art); Growing Space (focused on
the environment); and Discover Beighton (the community heritage
'Discover Beighton' was managed by a steering group, which
included people involved in Time Works project, others active in the
community and members of the Local History group. It focused on
oral history initiatives, getting together a team of eight community
interviewers/transcribers by a process of open recruitment (via
nomination and selection according to theme). The group organised
visits to museums to gain ideas and inspiration. They held archive
days, encouraging community members to share their memories at,
for example, a heritage fete, or an event at the local allotments.
The group produced ‘time walks’, a resource pack for schools, a
website and a book. Oral History interviews are now housed in the
National Coal Mining Museum and Sheffield Archives. School pupils
(10-15 year olds) created animations from the oral history and were
recent winners of the Roots and Wings Award.
The ‘Full Circle’ project has been ‘an outstanding success’, meeting
every one of its targets, which focused on themes such as: building
community cohesion; raising aspirations; enhancing the reputation
of the village; improving the quality of life; giving a sense of shared
place and history; building human and social capital; increasing
social, educational and employment opportunities; and instilling
pride in the area. Discover Beighton has also been successful in its
primary objective of ‘community capacity building’. Individuals
developed confidence and skills (in computing or interviewing, for
example). Oral history worked as ‘a tool’ for community cohesion
although, one year on, interviews suggest the impact is more in
personal terms: young people use the project for their media
studies coursework; friendships and connections have been formed
between interviewers. One interviewer, who is partially sighted and
had done voluntary but not paid work, participated in interviewing,
wrote a song, used her recording studio at home to digitise
transcripts, and generally found her confidence boosted by
involvement in the project. People who used libraries and Sheffield
Local Studies Library have been inspired to do family history
research. The Vicar of Beighton, Mike Cameron, is trying to get
funding to produce a local history of mining in the village, to display
in the church. It is hoped that experience of Discover Beighton will
ensure that more people are willing to join in. Beighton is now
regularly in the press, due to people trained to do press releases.
No group has emerged to continue with the project, however, and
one year on, the website is not being regularly updated.
Project worker Catherine Maihac reported that, despite the
successes of the project, a number of problematic issues were
encountered along the way. For example, the process of
transcribing the oral history interviews was much more difficult and
time-consuming than had been anticipated. The interviewees were
unsettled by the transcripts, and especially by the use of
vernacular, where individuals felt patronised, felt like they were
made to look stupid, or just disputed the form used ('mi dad' was
widely unacceptable, whereas 'me dad' was not). Another family
was upset by some things that were said about a local man who
was a family member. Lots of diplomacy and individual sessions
were required to ensure this aspect of the work ran smoothly.
Another difficulty concerned village identity. There was some anger
over the sculpture, for example, as some community members
wanted it to be a pit wheel. The steering group were keen to
capture a broad history that focused not just on mining, but on the
agricultural past and domestic life. At the same time, the group
wanted to explore the miner’s strike but, twenty years on, the
tensions between families and objections to interviewing police
made this impossible.
Programme Managers did not always see the value of the History
project. It was one of lots of projects for Objective 1 and others
were more obviously concerned with regeneration in that they
provided childcare, jobs, website for local businesses etc.
Unfortunately, no members of the Discover Beighton group
responded to my request for interviews and so I have been unable
to include the views of community participants in this report. I
have, through a different route, arranged interviews with people in
Beighton who were not involved with the History project, but who
have strong views on ways of telling the history of the village, but
these are not available for this report. Even more fruitfully, I have
formed a good working relationship with the ongoing History project
in a nearby village. Six students from my third-year Community
History module were attached to the Kiveton Park and Wales
History project during 2006-07 (see below). Some produced
outstanding work, including KS2 lesson plans, resources for local
family historians and a fabulous set of oral history interviews of
miner’s wives, which have formed the basis for a new section of the
project website on Kiveton women. A vibrant group of volunteers
have agreed to be interviewed in early December about the
business of ‘Remembering for the Future’: the place of oral and
community history in ‘regeneration’ projects; its personal value and
its role in increasing pride and commitment to a wider project; and
its role in ‘capacity building’. These interviews will form the basis of
part of papers to be delivered at two international oral history
conferences in 2008. I have also been invited to speak on history
and regeneration to a group of Swedish historians and teachereducators.
2. Local History Project, University of Gävle, Sweden
In May 2006, I visited the history department at the University of
Gävle, where I interviewed 10 students and three members of staff
about an innovative first year module, the ‘Local History Case
Study’. In this section of the report, I will discuss: the origins of this
module; its current format; and the reflections of staff and
The university of Gävle is situated in a region of Sweden
(Gastrikland) which has the highest rate of first-generation and
regional university students. On arrival at university, they present a
range of potentially problematic issues, identified by tutors as
 Little disciplinary knowledge, due to History not being
compulsory at high school level;
 Low ability and willingness to read scholarly texts in English;
 Poor written Swedish;
 Struggling with a cultural gap between high school and
university, in particular the expectation that students will be
A lack of commitment among non-programme (teachertraining) students, which results in a higher drop-put rate
among this group;
The ‘Local History Case Study’ was the ‘baby’ of Bengt Shüllerqvist
(now at Karlstad University), devised when he was a postgraduate
student at Uppsala University and very much influenced by his
experiences teaching in adult education. In designing the module,
his aims were various, and focused on:
 motivating and building the confidence of students, especially
those who were returning to education after a long break,
and whose backgrounds did not predispose them to
traditional academic work;
 personalising the study of history, bringing it alive through a
focus on public or family history;
 exploring the relationship between ‘small’ and ‘big’ histories
(described as the strongest didactic principle of the module);
 bridging the gap between school and university through an
emphasis on life experiences;
 bridging the gap between popular history and ‘scientific’ or
professional history, encouraging students to do practical
work in investigating and experimenting with sources and
Bengt was influenced by the principles of ‘grounded theory’: of
developing theory from the story itself, building upwards from
observations. He was concerned to question the canonical idea that
we start teaching history by focusing on earlier periods and
continue up to the present day. Learning about history, he believes,
doesn’t necessarily happen this way in the minds of teachers or
The work for this module was to be the first piece of history a
student undertook, an introduction which both presented their own
lives/communities as part of history and which de-mystified the
Archives etc. through enabling students to undertake a piece of
historical research.
Over the years, the module has been re-shaped as it has been
taught by other colleagues. The module is no longer the first thing
students encounter on arrival at university, but now follows two
World History modules (to 1600 and from 1600 to the present). The
local focus seems to be a welcome relief after this! It is then
followed by a module on Swedish history, which students seem to
feel better prepared for as a result of undertaking their local study.
Among the students, the general feeling about the order of the
modules was that it was best to start with the World History as this
provided an outline and prior knowledge which students felt gave
them the confidence to then study a topic in depth. Some students
felt the project provided a good basis for the Swedish history
module, whereas others would have preferred to study Swedish
history first. One said she would have been terrified to have to do
the case study first of all and another commented that he believed
the drop out rate would be higher if students were required to do
the archival work first. This of course may merely reflect the
hypothetical fears and insecurities and may not be borne out in
The emphasis in the module now is less on the personal: one of the
tutors and the students were quite resistant to the idea of studying
themes with a personal value and were emphatic that they needed
a broader knowledge before embarking on an in-depth local study.
(Oral history is also not a possibility; the aim is to ‘face the
documents’.) Again, this represents the shaping of the module by
different staff, and the students’ opinions may well have been
shaped by experience of the module as it stands. The focus on the
small/big histories, the local/global remains (discussed below).
The organisation of the module is as follows:
In the early weeks the students:
 identify the theme of their project and find a published PhD
thesis (all are published in Sweden) in Gävle University
library; they than undertake some archival research on a
related theme;
 undertake small assignments following introductory sessions
at archives (City archives, Popular Movements Archive;
Sandviken archives);
 attend a lecture on source criticism and complete small tasks;
 read three books and discuss them in seminars. These vary
between ‘regular’ (straight history) students and ‘didactic’
(teacher training) students. All read a book by ethnologists
about Victorian bourgeois and peasant cultures (Jonas
Frykman, Orvar Löfgren, Den kultiverade människan [The
cultivated man]. ‘Regulars’ read a history of a Saw Mill Town
(Ronny Ambjörnsson, Den skötsamme arbetaren: idéer och
ideal i ett norrländskt sågverkssamhälle 1880-1930. [The
respectable worker: ideas and ideals in a North Swedish
sawmill community 1880-1930]) and a piece by Henrik Ågren
about student culture in Uppsala in Henrik Ågren (ed.), När
studenten blev modern: Uppsalas studenter 1600-1850
[When the student became modern: The students of Uppsala
The ‘didactics’ students also read Ambjörnsson. In addition,
they read two books about education: U. Johansson,
Normalitet, kön och klass. Liv och lärande i Svensza lärovek
1927-1960 (Normality, gender and class: life and learning in
Swedish high schools, 1927-1960 (2000)); and B. Erik
Shüllerqvist, En lärares bildungsgång (A teacher's way to
learning, 2002).
Students pass or fail on the basis of their seminar performance. Few
students fail, although the proportion varies between semesters. A
common reason for failure is non-attendance at mandatory
seminars. Students can re-write their papers, so those who do not
pass at the first attempt can resubmit.
Tutors believe the module encourages a questioning approach,
especially after a rather ‘passive’ experience in World History; they
start to ask questions about single perspectives and to think about
how history is put together. In this sense the module is designed to
provide a remedy for the gap between high school and university
level teaching. Tutors’ belief that the module inspires confidence in
those students who go on to study history in the second semester is
borne out by the comments by students (see below). Students
demonstrate a greater ability to be able to work on a related social
history theme which they would otherwise have found difficult.
Student feed back:
Students were given a list of questions/discussion points prior to
our meeting (see attached) and met with the interviewer for about
two hours. They began by outlining their individual case studies,
which were as follows:
 a study of Gävle harbour, which developed from the student’s
own maritime interests. Used records held in the community
archives to investigate imports, exports etc; the impact of the
oil crisis; the new goods that are shipped in and out.
 the charity Mother Aid in Gävle in 1937-38. Used community
records, which detailed the support given to individual
mothers; compared attitudes with today.
 the 1918-1919 Spanish flu in Gävle and its impact on families,
hospitals and public spaces in the town. Used the records of
the Epidemic Hospital and the minutes of local politicians
 two studies of the ‘Big Strike’ of 1909. One student used
minutes of meetings to explore how a local union acted when
the strike broke out. The second student used union
protocols, financial statements, members' listings etc to
examine why the workers (at the saw mill) went back when
they did.
a temperance society in a small village between 1838-1844,
looking at its membership and influence, its regulations, the
involvement of women, and its activities.
the building of Gävle theatre in 1788. This student had
problems with the lack of primary sources, and had to base
many of her questions on secondary accounts.
the origins of a park and zoo on the outskirts of Gävle. Used
information in the Archives.
female crime at the turn of the twentieth century. Used court
records and secondary sources to ask general questions about
the crimes women committed and to undertake a case study
of one female criminal.
The students reported finding the trips to Archives particularly
valuable. Many were surprised at the accessibility of sources.
Entering town archives, working with newspapers, manuscripts etc.,
was for them a very positive experience which built confidence in
their ability to be historians. The student of the harbour project, for
example, enjoyed gathering facts and making his 'precise' statistical
curve. He commented: It is 'one thing to read a book and have ...
all the graphs done, but here ... have to make your own history and
use the facts to make your own conclusion.' Others enjoyed having
'to work like a detective' and a number wanted to dig deeper and
develop more knowledge. Many were simultaneously surprised at
how easy it was to use archives and how hard it can be to get it
right; they were very engaged by the business of translating history
into their own words. It ‘felt more real’. 'You realise what history is
when you do a local study'
Students repeatedly emphasised that they now had a different view
of local history. They enjoyed seeing how a small piece of Swedish
history can highlight broader, sometimes global, concerns. The
student who undertook the harbour study, for example, enjoyed
seeing 'what is going on behind the structures' of the harbour and
exploring the global connections. One student (the flu project)
enjoyed seeing how 'something big came to small Sweden'; stating
that for him, ‘Swedish history became larger’. Others realised that
there is ‘so much history here in Gävle’.
While some students were uncomfortable about their work
becoming too personal, others enjoyed feeling a sense of emotional
engagement. The student who studied Mother Aid, for example,
herself a single mother of three children, found herself very
involved in the work. Her interest was in the 'big picture' concerning
help and support given to single mothers, the involvement and
commitment of the government, the place of this within the welfare
state in the early-mid twentieth century. The project has influenced
her decision to become a teacher. A student who undertook a
project on the 1909 strike came from a family who owned shipping
companies in Stockholm in the last century and discovered they
were ‘very hard on the workers’. He says his project has inspired
interest in working-class history. The student who looked at female
crime was inspired by family stories about a relative, Pila Britta,
who was a prostitute who ran an illegal bar; she became a case
study for the project.
A number of student reported feeling inspired to develop future
research projects and, for teacher training students, ideas for
becoming teachers. Their main criticisms of the module focused on
a desire for more guidance in writing the report. Some would have
liked to work in groups (although the split was fairly even on this
To conclude, the study highlights the potential for local historical
studies in building confidence and enabling students to see the links
between different kinds of history. It also points to the importance
of the tutor in contextualising the module however; in particular,
how a module may lose its ‘edge’ over time as its purpose and its
relationship to other parts of the curriculum is viewed differently by
subsequent tutors.
The Gävle case study was one inspiration for the shape of the new
Public History module at Sheffield Hallam (see below, Making
History 2). It has also provided the context for further collaboration
in terms of research into cultural heritage and local identity in
Sheffield and Gävle, and to preliminary conversations about the
formation of a joint module taught between the two universities.
3 (a). My module Community History (see appendix 2) has gone
swimmingly well. Last year, I had a very small group, and students
were attached to a community history group (Burngreave Voices)
and worked on two projects: an education pack for KS 2 on
Burngreave Cemetery; and an oral history project at Grimesthorpe
Allotments. Both have been really successful. Partners in the
community were pleased with the work; and students were
extremely happy with their work. The following are some of their
‘Our project is complete and I’ve enjoyed it very much. By far, my
favourite module this year.’
‘This course was very challenging; it required the learning of many
new skills and demanding much more commitment than any other
one that I had partaken in before. Despite this however, I found it
thoroughly enjoyable. It has provided me with the opportunity to
try many new skills and with the forum to meet lots of very
pleasant people, whom I would otherwise not have had the
opportunity to meet. For this reason alone I would recommend it to
future students.’
‘... The transcription was long and arduous and extremely time
consuming, but once done there was a sense of achievement which
has been unique amongst my modules this semester. I think this
project has definitely been the highlight of my module choices and I
would advise any student thinking of taking it next year of two
things. Firstly, I would warn them that it is a big commitment, and
you have to be prepared to organise, arrange and meet with
complete strangers sometimes in places you’ve never been before,
so it is best to be as confident and positive as possible. Secondly I
would say, go do it! Despite the work load being high, and without
sounding melodramatic, I think (we) will have gained more than
just points and grades from this module. Although it has been hard,
it has also been a lot of fun and I would definitely consider helping
on another community research project in the future.’
‘It is hard to say what overall value the project will have to the
school children who carry it out but for me it has proved invaluable.
As an aspiring teacher, it has given me experience in planning
projects and will help me next year in my teacher training. Local
history has proven to be important to many communities and I feel
proud to have been part of something that encourages this... If
there was anything I would change it would have been the time we
had for the project... Overall it has been a pleasure to do the
project and I feel that I worked well and am pleased with the work
that I have done.’
This year, a larger group of students a larger groups of students
were attached to three projects: Green City Action, to produce small
historical studies of the history of Abbeyfield House and Park;
Kiveton and Wales History Project, a wide-ranging and ambitious
project housed in the former pit offices; and Dore Oral History
Society. Although fortunes were mixed this year, some of the work
undertaken at Kiveton and at Abbeyfield house was outstanding in
quality (see above).
Students have again commented favourably on a number of
the independence, responsibility and flexibility given them by
the structure of the module;
the choice provided and the impact of this in terms of interest
in and commitment to the project;
the creativity allowed by the above;
the pleasure gained from an increased understanding of the
the opportunity to develop skills of use in their future planned
careers (teaching) – although it was felt that this aspect of
the module needed to be better publicised.
Students also encountered problems, some to do with the
availability of sources; but mostly relating to the differential input
by the ‘host’ project workers: while one was very enthusing and
positive, for example, another was rather too distant and a third
experienced as over-controlling.
I have arranged for an internal and external evaluation of this
module. The internal evaluation is currently taking place, and
involves giving consideration to the assessment in relation to elearning possibilities. Thus, the report will begin life as a wiki, as
group members collaborate on-line; while the weekly diary, until
now submitted by email, will take the form of a blog in which two
separate groups comment on their own and each others projects as
they develop. The external evaluation will take place during the
Spring of 2008, and will focus in particular on assessment,
independent learning and employability.
3 (b) Public History module (see Appendix 3, Making History 2).
This new module focuses on group studies of public history sites in
Sheffield. These include the Queen Victoria memorial, General
Cemetery, Weston Park Museum etc. Students are required to read
secondary texts, visit the Local Studies Library and formulate
questions about ‘their’ site. The assessment is in three parts: a
group project report; a presentation of the project findings; and a
reflective individual report.
Appendix 1: Local History Case Study: questions/discussion points for meetings
with students, May 2006
Provide a brief summary of your local history project (in no more than 50-100 words)
What were your findings/conclusions?
How different was your study from the history you have done before (e.g. in school,
world history etc?)
Reflect upon the way you did the study:
What precisely did you enjoy?
In what ways did it engage your interest?
What are the distinctive historical skills required to undertake your particular local
history project?
In what ways could you ‘bridge’ or make connections between what you were
studying and your own life/family/neighbourhood?
How has the project changed your perspective on the locality?
How has the project changed your perspective on history?
How has the project changed your perspective on the relationship of local history to
Swedish/European and World History?
What ideas has your project generated for future work (e.g. your dissertation)?
Some people see Local History as inferior to history on a larger scale. How would you
refute this argument?
Community History
Module Code
Credit Points
Indicative Assessment
Components &
Percentage Weightings
Pre-Requisite Modules
(if applicable)
Delivered according to
Standard Academic
Portfolio of coursework 100%
One level 5 History module
2 semesters
1 semester
Other delivery pattern:
Please specify
To introduce students to the developments in British social history
which have seen the growing popularity of family, community and oral
history in the postwar years;
To enable students to become familiar with some of the main sources
used by community historians;
To provide the research skills necessary to undertake project work in
the fields of community/local history;
To examine debates about oral history theory and practice; and about
history and heritage;
To examine the relationship between life histories, community history
and academic history;
To examine the relationship between community history and urban
To develop skills in collaborative working.
explain developments which have seen the growing popularity of
family, local and community history;
critically assess a key primary source/sources used by community
demonstrate skills in the identification and analysis of key issues in oral
history theory and practice;
discuss awareness of some aspects of the ‘heritage debate’;
situate your own project in relation to local /community history and
academic history;
use historians’ skills in the practise of community history.
The module will be taught by a 2.5 hours weekly session, which will
include, variously: a lecture and seminar; a workshop; and communitybased work. The first three weeks will take place in university, with
lectures and seminars on the subjects of: community and local history;
oral history; and heritage. The lectures will introduce students to the
theoretical aspects of the subject, while the appended seminars will
enable students to undertake preparatory work for their community
Weeks 5-11 will be spent developing the community history project,
both in local Libraries and in the community. An individual learning
contract will be drawn up which will specify the nature of the project
work and the assessment requirements. Students will undertake
project work for 2.5 hours per week, under my supervision.
Week 12 will be a feedback and debriefing session.
The module assessment comprises a portfolio, to include:
a project (50% weighting, equivalent to 2500 words). This
assessment task will be negotiated between the student(s), tutor and
the community history project worker. Examples of projects might
typically include: a report, an education pack, a video, a piece of
primary research for a community-based organisation, a set of oral
history interviews and transcriptions.
a critical appraisal of a primary source used by community
historians (eg Census, wills etc) (1000 words, 10%);
a weekly learning diary, in which students record and reflect upon the
development of their community history projects and placements
an individual project analysis which will critically reflect upon the
project (equivalent to 1500 words, 30%). Students will be expected to
discuss their own project in relation to community and academic
history; reflect critically upon sources, methodology and working
practices; assess the successes and weaknesses of the project.
Family and community histories: growth and popularity; Community
history and 'history from below'; Community history and academic
Sources used by the family and community historian; using Archives,
Local Studies etc.
Theory and practice of oral history; memory as a historical source;
conducting life history interviews
History and the heritage debates; History projects and urban
Course Handbook for the BA in History, English and History,
Criminology and History and Film and History
Module Handbook
Making History 2
Module Code
Level 4
Credit Points
Indicative Assessment
Components &
Percentage Weightings
Pre-Requisite Modules
(if applicable)
Delivered according to
Standard Academic
CW 100%.
2 semesters
1 semester
Other delivery pattern:
Please specify
to provide a 'bridge' between A-Level/Access courses and study at
university undergraduate level, and to prepare students for the
demands of studying history at Levels 5 and 6;
to consolidate and develop skills in research, presentation, group work
and report writing for more effective learning at Levels 5 and 6;
to develop understanding of key debates in public history and apply
these to a group project based on the Sheffield region
to promote the principles of independent learning and reinforce the
importance of personal development portfolios in the learning process
demonstrate a range of skills (information retrieval, research,
presentation, group work, writing) essential to successful study at
undergraduate level;
develop an understanding of public history and be able to relate this to
an aspect of history in the Sheffield region;
be more independent and autonomous in your approach to learning;
reflect on your progress and produce written work to place in your
personal development portfolios
The focus of this module is programme of eight seminars, where group
work activities and formative feedback on project work will be central.
Early seminars will focus on getting group projects up and running, and
ensuring that students are aware of the demands of group work.
Subsequent meetings will take the form of progress meetings with the
tutor, monitoring the development of the projects and finally, presenting
before the seminar group/tutor the findings of the project.
The seminars are accompanied by a short spine (4 in total) of 1 hour
lectures at the beginning of the semester. These will provide a
framework for student understanding of public history, history and
heritage and the themes of the group projects.
The module will be supported by a Blackboard site.
Assessment is by 100% coursework. The coursework component
consists of three elements which assess research, presentation
and writing skills
Element 1: Group project report (20%)
Short outline of the chosen project, stating main aims, research
questions and how the work has been distributed within the group,
and a short bibliography (Proforma provided on the Blackboard
Element 2: Group presentation (40%)
15-20 minutes presentation; assesses your skills in researching,
condensing and presenting your findings on a public history project
with a group of 3-4 students. You will be marked on the
presentation AS A GROUP.
Element 3: Individual report on project/presentation (40%)
A self-reflective report evaluating your individual contribution to the
group work and the presentation assessing both strengths and
weaknesses of the project (Proforma provided on the Blackboard
Written feedback will be provided on all elements of the
assessment. Formative feedback on the group project reports will
be handed back and discussed in seminars. Students will also be
provided with informal oral feedback on their seminar work during
the semester.
Project work in History
Project work; working in a team; understanding your role in a group;
compiling a plan; compiling a bibliography; successful presentations.
Project themes
Weston Park Museum: the birth and rebirth of a museum
Kelham Island Industrial Museum: the urban past
Abbeydale Industrial hamlet: schools history
Victoria Monument, Endcliffe Park: national and local history
Cholera Monument: commemoration and remembrance
Sheffield General cemetery: conservation and reconstruction
Sheffield Flood website: history online
Chatsworth House: the National Trust and the commercialisation of
Sheffield Manor and Restoration: preservation and display
Pride and Prejudice: the past as costume drama
This information can be found in Making History 2 module
handbook and Blackboard site, the BA (Hons) History Course
Guide, and the History Subject Group Assessment Handbook for
History Students