Local history is the study of history in a local context, often concentrating on events that affected a local community: people or places of a particular village of town. These events could be anything from movements, wars, births, or deaths.
Think of a Veterans Memorial on the Orchard City Green in downtown Campbell that remembers those lives from the local community that died during war. These people gave up their lives so what our ancestors could enjoy their lives and the lives we have today.
No matter how different you are, you have a shared history in the city that you live in. Below are three reasons why local history is important for our community.
Local History Depicts Shared Experiences As we learn about people or places that were important years ago in our city, we realize that those residents reared children, worked hard to make a living, immigrated to an unfamiliar place, or had an entrepreneurial spirit that they used to build a business. As we learn about these shared experiences, one can often visit preserved historic landmarks within a city. These preserved landmarks serve as sources for first-hand accounts of the people who experienced life in the community - decades or centuries earlier.
For example, John Colpitts Ainsley Campbell’s canning pioneer, active in the early twentieth century, immigrated from England to live permanently in the United States. This experience is one we can learn from but also relate to as a diverse community here in Campbell, made up of people from other states and countries.
Local History Teaches Us about The Human Condition Local history museums hold records of families and people who settled in the city centuries ago. These records also depict personal letters, papers, and photographs of families, business, and events that shaped the city’s history. These records show us, personally and accurately, about how people lived live decades or centuries earlier. Museum exhibits show us these records and help visitors cultivate empathy – a deeper understanding of the circumstances and concepts surrounding and event or live in a certain time period.
Local History Museums Are Centers of Learning Local history comes alive in museums and historical societies. When a guest is able to read, visit a historic place, look at an artifact, appreciate images or study real documents, we create learned connections. The information and objects found in museums offers supplemental information not found in classrooms and may also include object-based learning that includes touchable glimpses into the past beyond that a textbook offers.
Do you have any other reasons why local history matters in your community? Let us know!