How to write a local history book

So far, I have published three books with Arcadia Publishing, and my husband has published one with The History Press. In this article, I will walk you through the steps of realizing your own dream of writing a local history book. First, decide what kind of book you want to write.

How to write a local history book

Finberg [Extracted from Finberg, H. For present purposes, however, let us assume that somebody, somewhere, wants an occupation of a quasi-intellectual nature, and feeling no call to engage in some generally respected and lucrative pursuit, is determined at all costs to write the history of a local community.

It is for his sake that I write; I shall try to show him how to reach the standard of performance that is expected of him: It may be objected: The shelves of every big library creak under a dead weight of books, almost every one of which is a model of the way not to write local history.

With so many exemplars to guide him, how can the beginner possibly go wrong?

How to Write a Local Church History - A Writer's Guide

On the other hand, it is possible that our student might waste a certain amount of time hesitating over the choice of models. Moreover, while native genius may have saved the authors of those books from the need of taking thought, mere ordinary talent must be improved by study and practice.

For these reasons it may be useful to set forth one or two general precepts, making explicit the principles which have guided the hands of the masters in this dim field of study.

I ought perhaps to add, in the spirit of the novelist who declares that every character in this story is fictitious, that when I speak with less than entire respect of our predecessors, I am referring mainly to local historians who are already dead, though I may inadvertently include one or two who still move and breathe and are unaware how dead they are.

The first rule to be laid down is one that admits of no exception. Since fortunes are not made by writing local history, the writer's impulse can only proceed from a genuine enthusiasm for the subject, and the rule is: In his single-minded devotion to the genius loci, the historian finds an endless fascination in every aspect of his chosen theme, and he takes it for granted that his readers will approach it in the same spirit; or rather, in his modesty, he assumes that nobody will read his narrative unless he cares about the place at least as much as the writer does.

This assumption is usually correct; and it has the further merit of being immensely labour-saving. A historian who feels himself under an obligation to woo the interest of as many readers as possible, including people who have never set foot in the parish, will have to take thought about his narrative; and, as we all know, there is no pain like the pain of thought.

He will have to introduce some order, art, and method into the work, to exercise a modicum of selection and compression, to polish up his literary style. But the golden rule I have enunciated will save him all this trouble.

No need to shape his narrative, to give it a beginning, a middle, and an end; no need to enliven it with graphic touches, to season it from time-to time with the salt of irony, to work on the imagination and sympathies of the audience.

He can go straight ahead, spilling the contents of his notebooks pell-mell over the page, never pausing to ask himself whether he is becoming a bore. Addressing himself only to an imaginary company of like-minded enthusiasts, he goes on adding yet another to the long list of local histories which only the most pressing curiosity will impel anyone to read.

Now since our historian is by definition an enthusiast, and since he obviously depends on some other source for his livelihood, he will have scant leisure for comparative study.

how to write a local history book

Even if he has any curiosity to spare for other parishes and other counties, it never occurs to him that some places are more significant historically than others, and that his own village may not need to be portrayed at the same length as an ancient market town or a big manufacturing city.

Thus the element of comparison is lacking; he never knows what is peculiar to his own parish and what is common form.

He finds that the churchwardens from time to time spent money on the destruction of vermin; that vagrants were driven out of the parish with all convenient speed; and that under the later Stuarts the parson was obliged to certify that deceased parishioners were buried in woollen shrouds.

Happily unaware that the same things were being done in parishes all over the country, he naturally communicates these exciting discoveries to the reader, who, let us hope, will be equally uninformed. Odd creature as he is, the local historian is sufficiently human to have his likes and dislikes; in fact, he is often a crotchety character.

And since he cannot hope to erupt into print very often, he treats the history of his town or village as a heaven-sent opportunity for airing his crotchets.

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This certainly gives the book a semblance of animation, but unfortunately it is not of a kind that really exhilarates the reader.

He also has his antiquarian preferences: An even more fruitful source of tedium is the landed gentry.Writing a local history book is a wonderful way to contribute to your community!

Read on for some advice from an experienced author. - How to Write a Local History Book - Museums at BellaOnline. I learned a lot about what is involved in putting together a local history book and here are some observations on the process of research and writing.

Passion/Interest Your interest in a topic might arise from a passion for a particular subject inspired by a story you heard or a book you read. DuBOIS — A local man with a love for athletics is reaching out to the public in search of historical names and resources. Local coach, former teacher plans to .

For present purposes, however, let us assume that somebody, somewhere, wants an occupation of a quasi-intellectual nature, and feeling no call to engage in some generally respected and lucrative pursuit, is determined at all costs to write the history of a local community.

Capturing Faith: How to Research & Write a Local Church History is ideal for new Christian writers because they can write their first book for love or for money.

The author provides details about how Christian writers can get a contract from a local church to write a history, and the steps needed to publish it/5(3). My book provides the details writers need to create an engaging local church history. It takes time and money to write a local church history.

However, congregation members and the community will want to own a copy of the completed book, so .

how to write a local history book
BBC - History - Village Local History: Top Tips