North Yorkshire’s Library Service and the County Record Office are encouraging everyone to delve into their history and heritage during May.

Local and Community History Month is a national promotion by the Historical Association to encourage people to discover and enjoy local history. The aim is to increase awareness of local history, promote history in general locally and encourage everyone in the community to participate.

North Yorkshire County Councillor Greg White, Executive Member for Library and Information Services, said: “It is a great opportunity for libraries to highlight local history and for local people to get involved. People develop a strong bond through a shared locality and shared history, which helps to create social cohesion, and all North Yorkshire’s communities have a story to tell.

“While I hope many people will join in the fascinating events throughout May, both the Library Service and the County Record Office offer a wealth of historical material that is available online at any time. Library members can access both and Find My Past to assist family history investigations, as well as other reference and research material. The Record Office’s online catalogue and shop also provide excellent resources.”

Libraries across the county are staging events, including some in conjunction with experts from the County Record Office. The range of resources and expertise available from the county’s libraries is reflected in the wide variety of experiences on offer.

Events during the month include:

Heritage Fairs


Filey: Saturday, 26 May

  • Local history fair with the County Record Office.

Harrogate: Saturday, 12 May

  • Throughout April, Harrogate library has been running a competition for children aged eight to 11 to draw or photograph their favourite old North Yorkshire building and write why they love it. The winner will be announced at the event. Local studies volunteers will run an “up your street” drop-in session. Pop in to see what is in the archives about your house/street. There will be a launch of the digitised photo collection, available on USB stick for use in the library. County Record Office staff will attend and will give a presentation on Researching the Harrogate Area at the County Record Office.

Northallerton: Wednesday, 23 May

  • Local and family history fair with stalls from local and family history organisations, including the County Record Office.


Scarborough: Saturday, 12 May

  • Local history fair

Skipton: Tuesday, 15 May

  • Local history fair with the County Record Office. Volunteers will display and demonstrate the project work they have been doing, including digitising Rowley notebooks, identifying aerial maps and transcribing diaries. Local groups will exhibit at the event, including Craven and the First World War Raikeswood Camp project. The event will include a launch of the new Rowley Ellwood website.



Derwent Valley Bridge: 8-20 May

  • Get to Know Your Local History, featuring unpublished local history items collected by the WI from 1924 to 1966, hand drawn local map and a presentation on the history of the buildings in East Ayton. Includes a pop-up archive by the County Record Office on 20 May.


  • Ethel Dewhirst Exhibition. Sketches by Harrogate artist Ethel Dewhirst will be on display alongside the history of her family.
  • Harrogate in Times Past. Harrogate Library Local Studies volunteers have picked their favourite old Harrogate photos that they have just completed digitising.


  • Display by Kirkwall Heritage Forum.
  • Display of arrowheads from Ebberston.


  • Tom Twisleton Exhibition, 2 to 23 May. Last year marked the 100th anniversary of the death of Craven dialect poet Tom Twisleton. This exhibition, curated by young Settle Stories volunteers, showcases the life and times of the Settle poet and Temperance advocate and what life was like in Craven 100 years ago.


  • Exhibition from Boroughbridge Historical Society




  • 2 May, 7pm, Grounds for Appeal talk by Ruth Rising on World War I “grounds for appeal’. She will bring examples of local people who appealed against conscription. The Record Office’s Grounds for Appeal project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Northallerton: 12 May

  • Gruelling Experiences, three centuries of the workhouse, the remarkable story of the workhouse from 1601-1948 by Peter Higginbotham.
  • Wills and Inventories of Northallerton residents from the 1660s to the early 19th century by Dorothy Edwards, vice-chair of Northallerton and District Local History Society.


Pickering: 12 May

  • Talk by the Ryedale Family History Group on starting family history research and announcement of photograph competition winners.

Ripon: 25 May

  • Policing & Punishment in the 19th Century, talk and object handling session led by Ripon Police and Law Museum volunteer John Holmes, 10.30am to noon

Skipton: 31 May

  • Tom Twisleton talk by Hazel Richardson from Settle Stories to tie-in with the exhibition.

Other events


Filey: 9 May

  • IT session, Discover the terrible deeds of Hunmanby resident Dr Pritchard, the Victorian poisoner, using online resources

Great Smeaton: 12 May

  • Pop-up archive by the County Record Office at Great Smeaton village hall, 2pm to 5pm

Kirkbymoorside: 5 May

  • Family history session


  • Knaresborough Town trail – find out about the history of Knaresborough by following the trail around town and answering the questions on the sheet. Forms from the library, to be handed in at the TIC. Family activity in partnership with TIC & Harrogate Museums. Harrogate Borough Council providing prizes.

Malton: all month

  • Research your family history sessions.
  • Display by Ryedale Historical Society
  • Display of special interest local history items
  • Display of old local pictures
  • Sessions promoting online resources
  • Working with Malton museum on Malton Memories

Northallerton, County Record Office: 17 May

  • Archives at Dusk event in evening

Ripon Library: 21 May

  • Ripon Memories coffee morning, 10.30am to noon, bring your photo albums and share memories of people, shops and businesses of Ripon.

Norton: 2 May

  • County Records Office pop-up archive of local history items


  • Display of photographic entries for competition celebrating the local area

Starbeck Community Library

  • Local history quiz

Whitby Library

  • Whitby’s Beautiful Buildings photo competition