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Heritage Toolkit: Explore Old Maps

Suitable for all ages.

The idea:

Looking at old photographs can give a wealth of historical information and is a good way to get people to enjoy practical history research.

How to do it
Firstly, research and collect old photographs of your agreed area: use your local record office, Local Studies Library, Museum, the Internet or private collections if you know of them.

Next, Identify the exact locations in the photos using old maps.

Photographs Go out in groups of two or three and take modern photos from the same spot.

Use a blown-up copy of the map of the area to compare the photos.

Think about physical changes: buildings, roads, shops, pubs, factories, mills, fields How have institutions changed - hospitals, workhouses, schools?

How have shops and town centres changed?

Think about sensory changes: how have the smells and sounds of the streetscape or village changed - think about horse manure, straw, factory pollution, street vendors, barrel organs?

You might want to make sound recordings of the scene as it is today.

Think about cultural changes - are people interested in the photographer? Do they stop to look? Are there children and women about? Are there people of colour visible in the scene? Do the shops and buildings reflect one culture or many?

Ways you can use the results:

You could use 'Then and Now' picture books and sound recordings. Find areas of further research, such as changes in retailing or transport. Think about creating a display or exhibition to attract and interest others.

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