How not to write Local History

In a recent BALH (British Association of Local History) talk about Self-Publishing the speakers, John Chandler and Dr Heather Falvey, also provided some advice about writing local history.   The advice is summed up well in the transcript of a talk given by Professor Finberg who was the first person to hold the title of Professor of Local History when he was Head of Department at Leicester University in the 1960s.  A link is given below:

Archiving Digital Records

This BALH talk was given by Ellie Pridgeon on May 2nd 2021 about archiving both society and individual digital records.  Now that almost all communication is electronic and very little is handwritten it is important that digital documents, photographs and important e-mails are archived.   Most digital documents are now “born digital” records rather than copies of paper records.

Ellie explained about “bit rot” which means that digital records in time will degrade and eventually some will not be readable.  This is especially true if the records are being regularly accessed and amended.  So important documents should be archived (and kept secure and not accessed) and a copy made which can be used.  Images should be retained in TIFF file format.

Ellie said that three copies of digital records should be kept: one on the hard disk of the computer, one in cloud storage (such as BT Cloud) and one on an external drive or data pen.  Depending on usage, data pens and hard drives have a life of around 5 years (and speaking from experience, it is important not to rely on a data pen).  Important e-mails should be archived outside of the e-mail system where possible; using the archive facility in (say) Outlook just stores them in a different folder on Outlook.  Important files should be stored as pdfs for example, and not as software-specific files.  Ellie gave the example of Photoshop files which can only be opened by Photoshop software.

Ellie then reminded us that web sites are transitory and may be removed and changed over time.  In order to keep an archive of web pages there are three possibilities:

Use Screen Capture software – this is built into Windows computers (using CTRL and prt sc will capture the screen so it can be pasted into Word for example.  Alternatively, there is the Snip and Sketch utility in Windows 10.  Apple computers have a similar facility.

Using the UK Web Archive ( – once  a year a large number of web sites are archived and can then be accessed when they are no longer available.

Using Web recording – this is a new facility whereby all the interactions with a website (including videos) can be recorded.  For example, the web pages relating to the 1418now website ( , the record of WWI centenary arts commissions (including the poppies artwork and the film “They Shall Not Grow Old”) has been archived in this way for posterity.

St Mary’s Stained-Glass Windows


Before the nineteenth century most memorials in Anglican Churches took the form of sculptures and wall tablets and this can be seen in St Mary’s along the walls of the north and south aisles.  Any stained-glass windows usually dated back to medieval times and many of these were destroyed following the Reformation.  However, with the advent of the Gothic revival in church architecture following the large investment in church building in the early 1800s, stained-glass windows came back into fashion and by the end of the century British stained glass held a leading position in the world.   In the Victorian period at least 80,000 windows were supplied to churches in England and Wales.

WW2 Window

The new windows copied the medieval principles and designs and this can be seen in the windows in St Mary’s which all date from the middle of the nineteenth century when the church was restored and extended by George Gilbert Scott and his team of architects, masons and glass makers.   The revival was to a large extent due to the Anglo-Catholic Oxford Movement which, as well as a return to pre-Reformation Christian traditions also  emphasised visual demonstrations of faith such as candles, vestments and stained-glass windows.  Whilst St Mary’s Church under the leadership of the Rev John Armistead was not in the vanguard of these developments, nevertheless the use of stained-glass to illustrate Biblical stories and themes is used extensively in the church.

John Henry Latham Memorial Window