Local history is very popular, and learning more about places and communities in Leicestershire can become a fascinating hobby. Some people enjoy doing their own research in their own way, while others find it helpful to meet like-minded people, at least on an occasional basis, to learn more, to pick up tips and to share ideas. Some have no wish to do their own research, but want to be able to listen to knowledgeable speakers talking about those aspects of the county’s history that interest them the most. There are many opportunities in Leicestershire to do one or more of these things, and these web pages can provide you with the links that will help you to explore the rich heritage of Leicestershire in whichever way you choose.
Getting involved with Leicestershire Victoria County History Trust
The Victoria County History (VCH) project will provide an authoritative history of every town, village and hamlet in the county from the first settlers to the present day, and needs the support of more donors (to fund training sessions) and volunteers to help with the research.
Current volunteer projects include:
Collecting information from online historic trade directories about nonconformist chapels and churches. When amalgamated with other information, this will be published online in the form of chapel histories and will also be used in due course in full VCH parish histories. If you would like to help with this task please see our project pages, which include full instructions. No prior research experience is necessary. We would also like to collect current photographs of these chapels. Please see our project pages for more information.
Transcribing probate documents (wills and inventories) from the 16th and 17th centuries. If you have some experience at reading handwriting of this period and would be willing to help, please contact us at email@example.com. If you have good palaeography skills, experience at managing local history projects and would be willing to lead a group of people transcribing these documents, we would also like to hear from you. We now have a database of over 12,000 inventories, and are prioritising these by parish.
Researching and writing full parish entries for publication online and in future VCH red volumes for Leicestershire. We are currently working with 30 volunteers in around 20 parishes across the county. Full training is provided through free workshops and one-to-one support, for example in reading and interpreting difficult documents. We regret we have no vacancies for volunteers on this programme at present, but as more funds are raised we hope to be able to recruit further volunteers in specific parts of the county (we would be grateful for help with fundraising – see below).
Charnwood Roots. Leicestershire Victoria County History Trust has just begun an exciting 4-year project in the Charnwood area of north Leicestershire, with the assistance of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The first volunteers joined in August 2013 and have begun fieldwalking, looking for old pottery and other signs of human activity in some of Charnwood’s fields. Volunteers are also being recruited for two oral history projects, starting in December 2013. Further volunteer opportunities will become available in 2014 and 2015, and include documentary research, building and landscape surveys, and archaeological test-pits. Full training will be provided for all of these, so while we welcome experienced researchers, complete beginners are also welcome. You do not necessarily have to live in Charnwood to join this project. If you would like to be kept informed, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Leicestershire Victoria County History Trust would also like to hear from anyone with some spare time and the contacts, skills or experience to help with any of the following:
- Publicity and PR
- Social media/blogging/turning research findings into interesting press snippets
- Translating medieval Latin from printed records
- Transcribing and translating handwritten documents in abbreviated medieval (and later) Latin (experience required)
We appreciate no one’s time is open-ended, and we would be happy to agree with you the number of hours you feel you would be able to contribute. If you could help us with any of the items listed above, we would be happy to discuss what is involved. You can contact us by email at email@example.com giving your contact details and details of how you would like to help, and we will get in touch.
Learning more about Leicestershire’s history
If you want to do your own research, our research guides on these pages may point you towards records you had not previously considered. They also give a taste of the training that we provide to our VCH volunteers.
If you want to listen to talks about local history, you may want to consider joining the Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society, which has an annual lecture programme, or one of the many local history societies interested in the history of a specific town or village.
Those who would like a formal qualification in local history or the rigour of an academic course should consider the MA course offered by the Centre for English Local History at the University of Leicester. The Centre has an annual seminar programme and also has an active group of Friends comprising alumni, current students and others with an interest in the subject, who arrange their own programme of conferences, tours and study weekends.
We can also provide talks to local history societies, or single training sessions on a wide range of different topics or themes, and please use the contact form on this site if you would like to arrange one of these for your society.