'I don't even trust now what I read in history books': family history and the future of co-production and collaboration

Tanya Evans, Jerome de Groot*, Matthew Stallard

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Family historians are a large and often neglected group of historical researchers. They have a strongly articulated sense of their practice, and a well-developed set of methodologies and research apparatuses. They mostly work on their own, or in partnership with other family members, and are associated with public libraries, archives and local historical societies. They are a community who are situated outside the academy, often marginalised by the mainstream. They have been dismissed for their naiveté and amateurism and are ridiculed for seeking emotional connections with the past lives of their forebears. The research practice and interests of family historians are often defined as unscientific, uncritical, emotional and of little value to the academy or anyone else bar their own family group. We interrogate these assumptions here and show how family history is enabling a huge number of people to think historically and to produce distinctive forms of historical understanding that challenge academic monopoly of historical knowledge. The essay considers the working practices of family historians and elaborates some of the key ways that family history work provides models for socially engaged research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)564-601
Number of pages38
JournalRethinking History
Volume27
Issue number4
Early online date23 Jul 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords

  • Co-production
  • Collaborative research
  • Community
  • Family History
  • Knowledge exchange
  • Public engagement

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