AHRC: Learning from the past – exploring historical archives to inform future activities

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Learning from the past
Learning from the past

AHRC: Learning from the past – exploring historical archives to inform future activities (2016-2020) AH/N005147/1 Neil Macdonald and James Bowen (Geography and Planning) and Alex Buchanan (History) 

Historically the Midlands have been severely affected by drought (e.g. 1976) and flooding, affecting industry, settlements and agricultural activity. Detailed historical records have been retained within archives detailing the impacts that these events have had on communities and how they have dealt with and responded to severe events.

The Staffordshire Record Office (SRO) has identified collections that would support research in this area, but which were catalogued at a time when archive services were more narrowly focused and cataloging did not consider research outside traditional historical disciplines. As such identification of material sources, which may be rich in information for environmental research are challenging to identify, with individual site analysis time-consuming. 

This project will explore this further using two themes: the first explores the changing nature of drainage, water-meadows and flood risk management, exploring how landscape drainage has changed within the region, its impact on local communities and on the nature of two key landscape uses: water meadows and flood risk management. The second theme explores the lessons learned from past droughts, focusing on societal responses to past events and explores how societies have challenged their risk to and from drought by modification of the activities undertaken, and through modification of landscape practice. These themes will be explored through two PhD studentships which will examine the materials held at Staffordshire Record Office in relation to the abundance and absence of 'water', exploring how responses and management have changed through time.