Historical Research for Heritage

These guidelines are a general introduction to the use of history in heritage work. They will be of interest to heritage professionals working in the field, as well as owners of heritage places, community historians or anyone simply interested in finding out about the history of a place.

1 January 2000
NSW Heritage Office
Heritage publications, Information series, Publication
  • ISBN 1-87641-5398
  • File PDF 114KB
  • Pages 29
  • Name historical-research-for-heritage.pdf

Heritage history is a general term for historical research and writing that is useful in heritage work. It is usually presented in the form of a thematic history, but other forms such as sequential occupation or architectural classification are frequently used. Heritage history is distinguished from many other forms of history writing by the fact that both documentary evidence and physical evidence are gathered and analysed.

Traditionally historians have worked from paper-based evidence, especially written documents, but many historians now subscribe to one of the late Professor Manning Clark's dictums: a historian should be equipped with a good notebook and a stout pair of boots. This is particularly appropriate for historical work for heritage as the research ‘documents’ are not only found in the archives but also in "bricks and mortar". In other words, we can find evidence of our past by learning to ‘read’ the physical and cultural environments in which we live.