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Newsletter, January 2008 (Issue 170)

Enthusiasts for Local History?


The Executive Committee of our Society has recently been discussing the lack of an Ipswich historical society -- a grouping whose interest would lie in exploration, whether individually or by collective ventures, of the manifold aspects of Suffolk's county town.

There are, of course, well established bodies like the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and the Suffolk Records Society whose scholarly remit embraces Ipswich, and specialised interest groups have increasingly come to supplement and to augment their work on Ipswich -- the Archaeological Trust, The Maritime Trust, the Ipswich branch of the Family History Society, the Transport Museum and so on. Among this input, that of our own Ipswich Society should by no means be discounted. Our concern for civic amenity and environmental advantage continually engages us in historical enquiry.

Engaging in research at all levels in Suffolk's local history has never been more widely pursued than it currently is, and thriving local societies abound in our many communities, which accommodate all levels of aptitude and the whole range of interests and enthusiasms.

Ipswich has not always lacked such a body. As far back as 1947 a branch of the Historical Association (a national body) was formed in the town designated The Ipswich Historical Society, and flourished to a greater or lesser extent until 1982. Its demise was occasioned by the advancing years of the membership, a drop in attendances at its lectures and courses (which were open to all) and perhaps no less pertinently the limitations of school history syllabuses, with very little take up of what the IHS offered.

The thinking of the Executive Committee is that if there were sufficient interest within our membership there could be formed a history group as a sub-group of our Society. The principle on which the 1947 IHS was launched continues to be relevant -- that "while lectures and talks are necessary to raise awareness, reliance should be placed on more active participation in local research and study". If, on the evidence of our many community based local history societies, we were able to incorporate all ages, levels of aptitude, and almost an infinite range of interest and enthusiasms, it seems hard to believe that such an Ipswich venture could not similarly thrive.

Interested members should contact the editor initially, and not the writers of this note, who while still active and ready to participate as "joiners-in", consider themselves too long in the tooth to organise such a group. The Society needs those active, enthusiastic history buffs that it knows are out there. Roll up, roll up!

Bill & Ruth Serjeant

    Front cover of issue 170 Cover, issue 170

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