Lecturer Blog: Local History Month

World Heritage Site, Pontcysyllte aqueduct

The Importance of Local and Community History

The popularity of TV programmes such as Who Do you Think you Are? and the more recent A House Through Time demonstrate the fascination we all have with uncovering our roots and finding out more about the way in which our ancestors lived. Local and community history has become a major leisure pursuit – whether it’s visiting National Trust houses, researching family history through websites like Ancestry, or even taking a DNA test to discover your origins!

May is Local and Community History Month, which reflects the growing academic importance of these areas. The study of history at university these days no longer focuses solely on kings, queens and the ‘important’ people of the past, but also considers the lives, interests and concerns of ‘ordinary’ people across the centuries.

In the Wrexham area, we are fortunate to have excellent museums and archives which provide us with a treasure trove of sources and evidence. Wrexham Museum’s current exhibition: Penley Hospital: The Story of a Polish Community in Wales, is a brilliant example of the way in which international themes such as war, migration and identity can be explored through the prism of local history. Wrexham’s newest cultural community hub, Tŷ Pawb, is another example of the way in which the town’s important market heritage is being developed for a new audience. 

Local and community history has always been a significant part of our history degree here at Wrexham Glyndŵr University. Fieldwork and placements at key regional sites like Bersham IronworksErddig and the UNESCO world heritage site of Pontcysyllte allow us to peel away the layers of the past and consider the way in which this region has developed over the years.

This is the essence of academic history today – a subject where local and community study takes its place alongside the broader patterns of national and international events.

Please click for more information on the BA(Hons) Social & Cultural History degree at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.


Written by Dr Kathryn Ellis and Peter Bolton, lecturers who teach modules in social, cultural and political history at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.