A new approach to Local Studies
In 2004 the late Gordon McCrae established a Local Studies course at what is now the University of the West of Scotland, Paisley Campus. Some of you may have known Gordon as a strikingly robust puppeteer or as the enthusiastic leader of a ceilidh band; but he was also a pioneer in local history in Renfrewshire. Just after his untimely death in 2005, the University set up a trust fund in his name. The Gordon McCrae Trust Committee allocated part of their funds towards the cost of reviving Gordon’s original idea – a multi-disciplinary course which would cover the history of Renfrewshire.
The outcome was Renfrewshire Histories, a series of presentations and workshops re-exploring familiar aspects of local history, providing a platform for local studies researchers – both amateur and professional – and introducing neglected or newly-discovered aspects of our past.
The sessions focus on the emergence of our local communities – how they were shaped by environmental and social forces, how they developed their own distinctive identities, and the role of old `Renfrewshire’ in shaping them.
Our programme covers Renfrewshire’s history from the Old Stone Age to the 20th century. There are a few old favourites, but plenty of surprises along the way: did you know that our basic DNA came from Spain; our Industrial Revolution was the earliest; our `conflict management’ was usually superior to that of other counties; and our prehistoric ancestors spoke like Chic Murray?
We do like to have a bit of fun as well, so you can expect [or contribute] a few stories and songs to the sessions. We also provide the fundamentals: an introduction to different kinds of source material, where they can be accessed, how to use them, and the wide range of methods, models, and tools which historians and archaeologists employ to winkle out their secrets.
Over the last two years, the ‘Renfrewshire Histories’ has proved a great success, with 22 sessions in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire. We hope you will be interested in attending and/or contributing to the Renfrewshire Histories programme. Anyone interested in local history is welcome to attend these free series. You don’t have to treat Renfrewshire Histories as a `course’. Each meeting is free-standing, so you can make your own selection.
We hope to continue the ‘Renfrewshire Histories’ series in 2013.