Learning More About: Local History

Photo: Members of Sandra’s Tweedale u3a local history group in a workshop with Historic Scotland

Subject advisers are u3a members who volunteer to share their expertise on their specialist subject and the movement can contact them for advice on their subject. In the National Newsletter each month, we focus on a particular Subject Adviser. This month, we’re talking to new Subject Adviser for Local History, Sandra.

What got you started on local history?

It came out of an interest in my own family history and developed when we moved to the Scottish Borders and joined u3a. The local history group helped me to get under the skin of our new town. Local history groups are in a great position to contribute and understand local heritage.

Favourite personal activities?

The three Rs: Reading, writing and research. I really enjoy mooching in online archives and at my local heritage hub in the Scottish Borders. I’m especially fond of old newspaper articles and news items: they provide such interesting insights into past lives. I enjoy sharing my research with others, usually through presentations, but I’ve also written short stories, non-fiction articles, and books.

Favourite local history group activity?

Hard to choose just one, so I’ll chicken out and say it’s the variety that I enjoy! We’ve visited archives, and organised training sessions. We’ve shared learning events with groups like the museum service and the local Civic Society. We’ve recorded oral history for the national archives. I like it when members give us a talk on a particular topic but I especially like it when members contribute five or ten minutes each on a particular theme, e.g., transport. Too many ‘favourites’ to mention them all here!

What’s happening at your next meeting?

It’s a Progress meeting. With the enthusiastic support of local organisations, we’re working on a temporary town trail. as the town’s contribution to Scottish Open Doors 2022. (Known as Heritage Open Days outside Scotland). We’ll be looking at the posters that members are creating about the town’s history, and working out our next steps.

What kind of subject advisor will you be?

Supportive: as well as encouraging groups generally, I’ll be especially keen to encourage groups to do more than visits and guided tours, and to try out different activities.

Facilitative: I’ll find ways to help put people in touch so that they can support one another, and share experience.

Listening: I’m looking forward to hearing from groups (or people wanting to set up a group) about what they do, what they can offer, and how I can help. I understand that there are around 250 u3as with local history groups, so it’s going to take time for me to get a full picture. I’m looking forward to hearing from people.

Contact Sandra on her Subject Advice page and on Subject Advisers more generally on the Subject Advice page.

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