Shropshire Routes to Roots
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3. Social history sources
What sorts of commentary and interpretive sources are available?
Political and economic sources gives us basic evidence such as where a road was built or who lived in a place. However, it is sometimes harder to get a 'feel' for how ordinary people felt and how they were affected by events at a particular time. For this, we can read letters, descriptions, newspapers and old pictures, which help us to imagine what life must have been like. These sorts of commentary sources require more interpretation, and may more subjective than fact-based sources.
Diaries, letters and personal sources
For advice on how to interpret and put personal sources into a broader historical context, explore:
The Shrewsbury Chronicle was the first paper to be published in Shropshire, in 1772. Shropshire Archives holds copies of the Chronicle from then to the present day, in addition to many other local newspapers in both original and microfilm format. The Oswestry and Border Counties Advertiser has been extensively catalogued and is available on microfilm at Oswestry Library.
Newspapers are secondary evidence. When reading newspapers, be aware that they may not be completely objective in the way they report events. Writers sometimes 'spin' the truth in order to make a more interesting story. Editors may also choose (or be forced through censorship) to leave out reporting of events which were actually very important. This is especially true at times of war.
For an example of spin and bias at work during World War One, see:
Photographs, Postcards and Portraits
Shropshire Archives has collections of images catalogued by place or subject, including sorted photographs (references beginning with PH), postcards (references beginning with PC), catalogued portraits and miscellaneous albums. Oswestry Library also has an extensive photograph collection, as well as invaluable etchings of Sweeney Estate over the years.
Two themes which use photographs to show the changes which occurred in an area are:
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Page created April 2004 and last updated 13 July 2007