Family history

Concerned with individuals related to each other with a kinship connection & interested in the life stories of those individuals, via a narrative approach. Increasingly likely to seek to place these individuals in a wider context. Might not have formal training and will be doing this for personal interest (c.f. genealogists). Might be less rigorous with referencing than professional researchers - though may also have an excellent grasp of a wide variety of sources that might contain personal information they seek. Will have an expertise in thinking about the individual and personal. 


Society of Genealogists 

Family History Federation 

Guild of One Name Studies 

Local history

Driven by a focus on the place, though integrating personal stories into this. Possibly also undertaking research for personal interest or as part of a civic group. Potentially a more analytical approach/ mindset, as there is a need to explain (or at least consider) why places grow and decay over time. Might adopt a long duree approach. Will have an expertise in finding out about place.


British Association for Local History 

Institute of Historical Research, Centre for the History of People, Place and Community 

Centre for English Local History 

Social history

Notoriously difficult to define, being concerned with 'society', social history often overlaps with other historical fields.  The discipline focuses on the everyday lives of individuals in relation to larger social and economic influences.  Whilst it has been accused of being overly focused on using class systems as a form of analysis, social history has also been considered the 'history of the people'.  Social history is widely engaged with by academic, local and genealogical historians.


Oral History Society 

Social History Society

Raphael Samuel History Centre 


Predominantly based in a university setting and paid to undertake teaching and research (and admin...), will go beyond the narrative to analyse and interpret the sources closely, often (though not exclusively) using particular theoretical and/or interpretive approaches to produce arguments about the chosen research topic. Typically under pressure to publish in academic journals which are often paywalled. Often seen as (or sees themselves as!) an expert in a particular field, quite tightly chronologically defined.


National Coordinating Centre for Public Engagement 

International Federation for Public History 

University of Strathclyde, Centre for Lifelong Learning, Genealogy 

Useful institutions and networks

British Library 

The National Archives 

Community Archives and Heritage Group 

Archives and Records Association 

The Historical Association 

University of the Third Age 

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