Community History Toolkit

Are you looking to start your own community history project? We’ve put together some resources here to provide you with inspiration and support to get going with your ideas.

You can take a look at the Local History in Oxford and Current Collaborations pages, to find out more about projects that are already ongoing in community history. You may find useful contacts there to reach out to; but you are also very welcome to contact the Community History Fellow, Dr Priya Atwal, to seek support for developing your ideas and finding potential partners with whom to grow your project plans.

1) How to do community history fairly

The History Faculty is committed to supporting ethical, egalitarian projects in community history, which should fully respect the time, energy and knowledge contributed by all participants to research and public engagement activity. Making your project an inclusive, fair and egalitarian one can take some time and careful planning. Here you can find some helpful resources and published research on ‘community history in action’, which you can read through to help you design and frame your project.

The literature listed below is available to read via the Bodleian Libraries. If you need help accessing any of it, feel free to get in touch with Dr Atwal at Similarly, please write in if you have relevant material or publications to add to our reading list.

Books and articles

  • Christoper Dyer (ed.), New directions in local history since Hopkins (Hatfield, 2011)

  • Paula Hamilton & James B. Gardner (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Public History (2017)

See especially:

  • Barbara Franco’s chapter, ‘Decentralizing Culture: Public History and Communities’;

  • T. Allan Comp, ‘From Environmental Liability to Community Asset: Public History, Communities and Environmental Reclamation’;

  • Hilda Keane, ‘Public History as a Social Form of Knowledge’.

  • Laura King & Gary Rivett, ‘Engaging People in Making History: Impact, Public Engagement and the World Beyond the Campus’, History Workshop Journal, vol.80, issue 1 (Autumn 2015), pp. 218-233

  • Sarah Lloyd & Julie Moore, ‘Sedimented Histories: Connections, Collaborations and Co-production in Regional History’, History Workshop Journal, Volume 80, Issue 1, Autumn 2015, Pages 234–248

  • Insa Muller, The Local Museum in the Global Village: Rethinking Ideas, Functions, and Practices of Local History Museums in Rapidly Changing Diverse Communities (2020)

  • John Jameson & Sergiu Musteață (eds.), Transforming heritage practice in the 21st century: contributions from community archaeology (Cham, 2019)

  • Steve Watson & Emma Waterton, ‘Heritage and Community engagement’ - for a special issue of International Journal of Heritage Studies, vol. 16, issues 1-2 (2010)

From the same issue, see also:

  • Emma Waterton and Laurajane Smith, ‘The recognition and misrecognition of community heritage’;

  • Elizabeth Crooke, ‘The politics of community heritage: motivations, authority and control’;

  • Corinne Perkin, ‘Beyond the rhetoric: negotiating the politics and realising the potential of community-driven heritage engagement’

2) Find local history archives and partners

There is a wealth of groups, organisations and individuals doing incredible work to document, preserve and promote the local and community history of Oxford and Oxfordshire. You can contact such bodies to gain access to a rich variety of sources and archives for pursuing your research, as well as to find potential partners to team up with. We’ve provided a list of contact details here, but the field of community history activity is growing rapidly, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for new groups that may be starting out in the local area.

You can also explore the research expertise and specialisms of History Faculty staff on our website. Email details for researchers are usually available on staff profile pages, or you can contact Dr Atwal for additional help.

3) Fund your project

The list below provides details of funding available locally and nationally for community and local history/heritage projects. Please note that while many of these funders offer financial support for projects throughout the UK, the History Faculty is only able to assist with initiatives and collaborations that are focused on Oxford and Oxfordshire.

You are welcome to contact Dr Atwal with queries about funding and pursuing partnerships with members of the History Faculty.  

Staff and students in the History Faculty are also advised to contact the Research Facilitators, Hollie Press and Charlie Rudman, about seeking internal Faculty funding for projects and activities, or for help with applying for grants from any of the  listed sources.